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Get up close and personal with migratory birds flocking creeks

By Padmja Sinha, Navi Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 16, 2020 01:25 AM IST

The state mangrove cell’s coastal and marine biodiversity centre (CMBC) at Airoli has become a hub of information for nature and bird lovers.

The centre, which started creek tours on November 15 last year, is flooded with enthusiasts to take a boat ride and see the migratory birds.

Officials said around 2,000 students have visited the centre since then.

NG Kokare, range forest officer, said, “Bird enthusiasts and photographers come every year. Since we started boat rides, students have been coming in large numbers to know more about flamingoes and other marine creatures. Around 2,000 students visited the sanctuary so far.”

Eco-tours on the creek from the centre started in 2018. Winter is the best time for the tour because of the huge number of migratory birds which flock to all creeks.

The extended monsoon delayed boat ride in 2019 but till now more than 3,000 visitors came to the centre, generating a revenue of 23 lakh.

“Saving the environment has been an important highlight this year. The youngsters are eager to see the biodiversity, study them and know more about preserving nature. They are curious to know about habitat of birds, dangers that they are facing and steps that could be taken to save them,” said Kokare.

The one-hour ride along the 10 km-thick mangrove cover starts from Airoli and goes up to Vashi. During the boat ride, people are briefed about the importance of mangroves and how they serve as feeding ground for the fish. Mangroves help maintain the ecological balance and control floods.

The centre and the areas around Navi Mumbai is a study field for Chetan Khedekar, 35, a Kharghar resident who is doing his research on ecosystem and the threats it faces.

“I am making a documentary on birds and flamingoes. The tour of the creek is a good learning experience,” said Khedekar, who is visiting other wetland areas in Navi Mumbai and studying the changing biodiversity.

Each eco-tour boat can carry 24 people. The timings of the ride depend on the low tide.

“The one-hour ride is a visual delight. One can see flamingoes, waders, egrets and many other birds,” said Subodh Palkar, 40, a bird enthusiast from Nerul.

The pink migratory birds arrive in the city in November and remain till June. There are around 135 species of birds that are spotted in the creek area.

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