Every winter, the concrete jungle called Mumbai plays host to a variety of exotic birds. While some are escaping a harsh winter, others use the city for a quick pit-stop to rest and fly away. You don’t even need to go too far to spot some of them. Just look outside your window. “The common greenshank, marsh harrier and brown-headed gull are winter migrants to our region while the Eurasian hobby is a rare winter visitor. While the former can be seen near the coast, the hobby is a bird of prey. It is seen in forested areas and grasslands,” says Saurabh Sawant, a bird expert and a photographer. He, along with Asif Khan of the Bombay Natural History Society, pick the best spots to go bird watching in the city.
Get off at Sewri station.
The jetty is a 10-minute walk from there.
What to look out for: Lesser flamingo, western reef heron, black-headed ibis, little green heron, lesser sand plover, Eurasian curlew, black-tailed godwit, black-capped kingfisher, common kingfisher and white-throated kingfisher.
Situated in the south of the city, approachable from Girgaum or Pedder Road.
What to look out for: Eurasian wryneck, rose-ringed parakeet, white-spotted fantail, oriental white-eye, black kite and oriental
Byculla Zoo (Victoria Gardens)
Situated in the south of the city. Approachable from Byculla, the garden around the zoo is a good place to spot city birds.
What to look out for: Tailorbird, purple-rumped sunbird, Asian paradise flycatcher, common kingfisher, Asian koel, red-whiskered
bulbul, red-vented bulbul, white-breasted waterhen, cattle egret, Indian golden oriole and the peregrine falcon (seen near a high-rise).
Approachable from Palm Beach Road, Vashi
What to look out for: Eurasian marsh harrier, painted stork, black-winged stilt, Caspian tern, garganey and white-eared bulbul.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Approachable from Borivali. Permissions are needed.
What to look out for: Grey jungle fowl, yellow-throated sparrow, Loten’s sunbird, verditer flycatcher, Tickell’s blue flycatcher, Indian black ibis, Indian black robin, spotted owlet, shikra, crested serpent eagle and oriental honey buzzard. The rare orange-breasted green pigeon was also seen here recently.
Maharashtra Nature Park
Approachable from Western Express Highway by turning at Kalanagar or from Sion.
What to look out for: Black kite, shikara, Eurasian wryneck, little green bee eater, barn swallow, bluethroat, purple sunbird, great egret, greater coucal and the laughing dove.
Kalyan Gandhari creek
Approachable from Kalyan main road
What to look out for: Over 130-plus species have been
spotted here, including waders like egrets, herons and waterbirds. Openbill storks are frequently seen here, as are purple herons. Oriental honey buzzard, white-eyed buzzard, short-toed snake eagle, marsh harrier and the black-shouldered kite are some other birds seen here.
Easily approachable from Vasai (E).
What to look out for: Woodpeckers, flycatchers, babblers, hornbill, owl and owlets, warblers and thrushes.
Bhandup pumping station
The spot is home to birds attracted to water.
What to look out for: Waders, spoonbills, kingfishers, munias, gulls, terns, reed warblers. The Indian Skimmer was seen in this area recently.
Approachable from Vasai
What to look out for: Shorebirds, waders, gulls, terns and osprey.
Mumbai University, Kalina
The large numbers of trees make it a good spot for bird watching. Approachable from Western Express Highway.
What to look out for: Most common birds in the Mumbai region can be seen here.
Approachable from the Eastern Express Highway. Permissions needed.
What to look out for: Waders, warblers, marsh and mangrove birds
Mahalaxmi Race Course
Easily accessible from Mahalaxmi station. Permissions required.
What to look out for: Grassland birds, larks, pipits, rollers, wagtails and shrikes.
Also check out
CEC BNHS, Goregaon: Forest birds
Manori-Gorai area: Forest and scrub birds as well as waders
Marve-Madh Islands: Forest and scrub as well as waders
Mumbra Hills: Forest birds
Dombivali-Kopar Mangroves, Sathpool: Mangrove and marsh birds
Aarey Milk Colony: Forest birds
Mumbai Port Trust Botanical Garden: Common birds and waders