Why flamingoes will arrive late in Mumbai this year

Jan 02, 2018, 08:33 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Experts say changes in climatic conditions, and the good monsoon, which has made ample food available for flamingoes, may be the reasons behind this

Mumbaikars can see the flamingoes, after they arrive, at Thane creek, in Airoli, Mahul and Sewri. File pic
Mumbaikars can see the flamingoes, after they arrive, at Thane creek, in Airoli, Mahul and Sewri. File pic

Mumbaikars will have to wait for three to four weeks to see huge flocks of flamingoes gather at the Sewri and Airoli creeks. Bird experts said good rains in Saurashtra, where the birds arrive first, and environmental changes are the reasons behind the delay.

Ample food
Bird expert Adesh Shivkar said the number of these birds is less compared to previous years by this time, but they will arrive in large numbers soon. He said, “My personal understanding is that whenever there is good rainfall in Gujarat (Saurashtra), a lot of water is available from Porbandar to Jamnagar, and so the flamingoes have ample food available for them. When there is less rainfall in the same belt, they migrate to the city.”

For the past 10 years, Shivkar has been visiting Saurashtra and observing the flamingoes and other birds. He also said that they presumably breed in the Gulf of Kutch and post monsoon move towards the wintering grounds, which include Sewri and Thane creeks.

Bird enthusiast Akshay Shinde, who has been roaming extensively in Mumbai Metropolitan Region to spot and observe the birds, said, “Compared to last year, this year the number of flamingoes, which have arrived to the city, is less. This might be because of seasonal variations, like changes in climatic conditions and excessive rainfall in Mumbai and Gujarat. We expect more birds to come to the city by mid or end of this month.”

Mudflats and mangroves
An estimated 20,000-25,000 flamingoes come to Mumbai every year, mostly by November-December. The places where Mumbaikars can see them in abundance are Thane creek, Airoli, Mahul and Sewri.

Since 1994, the Thane creek has been attracting flamingoes in large numbers. Usually by November, these beautiful birds and their chicks descend here and occupy the mudflats, bordering mangroves. They stay here till May, after which most migrate to Bhuj in Gujarat for breeding, leaving behind a small resident population.

Nearly 90 per cent of the flamingo population that comes to the city consists of Lesser Flamingoes; the rest are Greater Flamingoes.

25k
Estimated number of flamingoes coming to Mumbai every year

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