Land crab crosses a stream

A Land Crab makes its way across a stream at the hills in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.

Though the rains seem to be making a late entrance this year, the hills and its residents have started preparing for the monsoon in full swing. These crabs who spend the previous seasons underground have now surfaced in large numbers, dotting the semi moist streams and muddy trails of the region.

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A flock for Lesser and Greater Flamingos gather during noon at the holding ponds at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.

It had been a while since I last visited the site. And given the immense heat and we witnessed this summer, I didn’t expect any birds in the region. But my joy had no bounds when I saw these magnificent beings come down from the skies in large numbers, electrifying the whole area with their sounds and vibrant colors during this time of the day when I would love to stay indoors.

Standing Tall

A black kite perches on the heights of a building before making it’s way back to its nest during a rather chilly evening in Mumbai.

As imposing as they can get, these birds of prey hold a special place in my heart. They may look intimidating for most but a few experiences with them and one will realize that they are just as fun, silly, mysterious and amazing like any other creature in the animal kingdom. They too have their sets of victories, failures, challenges and finally that one thing that really binds us all together – the ultimate cycle of life and death.
To witness such a majestic being in a fragile state would be a rather heartbreaking sight. But the final moments it flies through its last days, with wounds and holes over its once majestic body, with the same pride and honor that it always carried along is one sight to witness and remember.

On the Powl

Husband Kittu makes a move with a rather animated yawn after I busted his ‘yet again unsuccessful’ stalking attempt on me at the parking lot as I headed back home.

Cats are amazing creatures. They always have this wild predator instinct running through them no matter they are feral or pet. Thus they are very likely to survive and hunt for themselves even if they are off human supplies and intervention. To make the matter more interesting, regardless the type of feline, they all seem to share similar hunting and stalking techniques that they use to procure their prey (with varying degrees of success). Each move they make with robotic precision is just as thrilling as it gets.
To be honest, the small dudes pack more punch and walk around with much greater attitude than the big cats. And being able to cuddle one without the ‘immediate’ threat of being mauled by is just amazing!

Amidst all the Cluster

The silhouette of an Indian Cormorant, perching on the branch of a tree, during early hours of the day at Seawoods.

Cormorants are indeed amazing birds to watch. They are seen often around the different water sources around Navi Mumbai. Their favorite spot though seems to be the the lone poles that stick out of the water (at the holding ponds) where they perch on the top, spread their wings and often pretend to be ‘dancing around’, a behavior called ‘sunbathing’ or ‘wing drying’. There are many theories and explanations for this behavior ranging from ‘the dry of wings’ to ‘regulating body temperature (“thermoregulation”), though much of these are speculated.
But whatever be the reason for the behavior, these birds are indeed a charm to look at and just make your day.

Action under the Risin’ Sun

Two Gull Billed Terns take turns to scope out fish while hovering over the holding ponds at Seawoods during early hours of the day.

The holding ponds at Seawoods and much of the area, in and around the creek harbor a vast number of marine and aquatic species. The area also has a decent mangrove cover (which is slowly depleting due to many factors). Aquatic and Marine birds are often found flying in the region and the place is visited by migratory birds during the season.
But given the fact that these wetlands and similar natural hotspots (around Navi Mumbai) are considered as ‘wastelands’ by people, the place slows get ‘developed’ and much of the region turns into a concrete jungle. The quarrying activities at multiple points on the foothills of the Parsik Hills range, the MIDC area, the Palm Beach Road and Seawoods are some proofs of that ‘development’. While making way through the Palm Beach Road, one can often see signs like ‘Proposed Golf Course’ (near Seawoods or Akshar Building Signal) or ‘Proposed Public Maidan’ (before Nerul or BBQ Nation signal) which are put up by CIDCO. If these projects materialize, pictures like the one above would only be a memory and end up in archives of a long lost past. No, it wouldn’t be the final nail in the coffin but it sure would be step closer to that.
And after all it’s man who needs a coffin

Stretchin’ It Out

An Indian Palm Squirrel stretches itself out on the service shaft ladder during the early hours of the day at Mumbai.

Like most wildlife in the region, these small and cute rodents have witnessed a boom in population during the last few years. They are often seen doing daredevil stunts like scaling straight walls, from the bottom to the top and vice versa and often come inside homes, either due to curiosity or in search of food. Even though their climb to the very top possess a threat to them and they often end up battling for life with the Black Kites and Crows that try to pick them up, neither their population or their climbing seems to slow down.