If you haven't yet been flamingo spotting, take some time out this weekend to watch the city's pink-feathered guests.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has organised Flamingo Festival 2011 on April 16 at the Sewri jetty.
In its fifth year, the idea of the festival is to spread the message of conservation and sensitise the public about the importance that the Sewri-Mahul mudflats hold for the birds.
“Currently, flamingos and other water birds in Mumbai are facing various threats due to loss of wetlands, mudflats and mangrove forests due to encroachment, dumping of debris and developmental projects,” said Atul Sathe, spokesperson, BNHS. “Pollution along the coast from sewerage, industries and oil spills further endangers them.”
So, starting at 2pm on Sunday, the festival will take the shape of a mini-fair with flamingo festival banners ready to welcome birdwatchers from the Sewri railway station right up to the jetty. Last year, more than 5,000 people watched not just flamingos but also other water birds.
Flamingos migrate to Mumbai from Kutch at the onset of winter and stay on till the first rains. Apart from about 10,000 to 15,000 flamingos, the mudflats also support more than 24 water bird species such as the white-throated kingfisher, pariah kite, purple heron and sandpipers.
BNHS has also identified the Sewri mudflats as an important bird area that should be declared a protected area.
In fact, a few years ago, the society recommended that the proposed Mumbai trans-harbour link from Sewri to Nhava-Sheva should be shifted about 500 metres away from the proposed alignment so as to protect the flamingo habitat.
“It is important to protect this wetland because the chances of its conservation will increase only when more people know its importance,” said Sathe.