Avian enthusiasts have a lot to look out for at two birding events that are taking place at Bhandup Pumping Station
What's so great about Bhandup Pumping Station (BPS), a sewage treatment plant off the Eastern Express Highway? From the perspective of wildlife biologists, ornithologists and birding enthusiasts, BPS is a hotspot for birdwatching in the city of Mumbai.
Speaking about the location, Vidushi Jaiswal, freelance nature walk guide who will lead a Mumbai Bird Safari by Hallu Hallu this week, shares that apart from being a route to the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, it is a wetland habitat where birds are active throughout the day, unlike the forest areas where different birds are active at different times of the day. She adds, “Thane Creek acts as an important bird area (IBA) that witnesses a large congregation of birds. You can spot around 40 to 50 species including over one lakh greater and lesser flamingos.”
Lesser Flamingos. Pics Courtesy/Vidushi Jaiswal and Hallu Hallu
Another birding event at this location will be held by GreenLine titled April Bird Count. Programme officer and wildlife biologist Zia Fatima Aejaz adds, “The location is a biodiversity hotspot that offers easy access to spot birds. You don’t need to go looking for them. The biodiversity of this hidden spot isn’t studied much, which is why we have chosen this location.” The platform hosts campaigns and initiatives that serve to educate people about the city’s environmental issues, too. Directed at students, their events, including this one, are free of cost. Further explaining the importance of the walk, Aejaz shares that the birding season for wetland birds extends from November to March. Towards April, the numbers decrease, but there are still summer migratory birds in the region, and it’s a good time to observe their activity at BPS which helps gain a record of the biodiversity of the location and an understanding of behavioural changes, eating habits, plumage, etc.
Highlighting that April is a good time for observing breeding plumage, Jaiswal adds, “Speaking about the main attraction — the breeding plumage of the greater and lesser flamingos, males and females of these species turn a flamboyant pink when they leave between April-May as compared to when they arrive.” She continues that the event, in keeping with Hallu Hallu’s aim of uncovering unique Mumbai locations and culture for city folk, educates people about the significance of the area in attracting migratory birds. These birding events include knowledge that goes along with the sights.
Congregation of waders
Jaiswal also mentions that the boat rides into the creek are organised based on tide heights at six-hour intervals with two high and two low tides in a day. “The rides take place when the mudflats are exposed and we can see the birds feeding. At this time it is possible to spot different waders.” You can also observe the common sandpiper, black-tailed godwit, black-headed ibis, and other bird species.
GreenLine’s two-day certificate course, led by naturalist and wildlife biologist Aniket Desai, comprises online and on-ground events that will introduce participants between the ages of 18 and 25 years to identification concepts, bird species and on-field birding techniques, before they head to BPS on April 2. Hallu Hallu’s event marks highlights such as understanding the wetland ecosystem, Thane creek and the importance of bird migration and climate.
Zia Fatima Aejaz and Vidushi Jaiswal
GreenLine’s April Bird Count
On April 1 and 2; 8 am
Meeting PoinT Shared after registration
Log on to linktr.ee/GreenLineMumbai
Hallu Hallu’s Mumbai
On March 30; 7 am
Meeting PoinT Bhandup Pumping Station Butterfly Garden, Mulund East.
Log on to linktr.ee/HalluHallu
Cost Rs 1,500 (inclusive of local snacks)
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