Wonders from the Wetlands-5

A sequence of images showcasing the landing pattern of a flock of Lesser Flamingos at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.

Watching a flock of flamingos land is vivid display of coordination, discipline and skill. Being the large birds they are, Flamingos deploy a different strategy compared to their smaller feathered counterparts. As they approach their landing zone, the flock often takes multiple trips in the air in a circular fashion, slowly descending into the area cutting down their momentum with each drop in height. When they reach an ideal combination of lowered height and momentum, they land into the holding pond to join their counterparts. They even deploy their wings to glide and often flap them, possibly to cut down and counter even more momentum.

No wonder humans deployed this brilliant technique in the aviation world where aircrafts use a similar strategy while landing on an airstrip, a manoeuvre very much favourable in a crowded city like Mumbai.

Wonders from the Wetlands-4

A flock of lesser flamingos fly overhead, making their way to the holding ponds at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai. To witness these birds fly right over your head, maintaining such coordination and precision has been one of my favorite moments ever.

Right from their approach to the subsequent fly past, these birds generate a wild buzzing sound possibly due to the flapping of wings in such large numbers. A sound so wild and terrifying that it mimicked that of a Luftwaffe Squadron heading towards war. And coupled with the beautiful spectacle of the plane blue sky being painted by hundreds of figures in vibrant red and pink colors- one was surely in for a sensory overload. I was so overwhelmed by the first sighting that it left my mouth hanging and ears buzzing for a while and was able to make a few pictures only when the next batch came in.

This surely is nature at its finest and a memory of a lifetime!

Wonders from the Wetlands-2

A flock of flamingos make their way around the holding pond in unison like that of a marching parade, as seen at Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.

Sights like these are a regular during the birding season. Though there are hundreds of birds that are either resident species or migratory visitors, nothing beats the spectacular show put up by the flamingos. Be it their ‘larger than life’ figures, the vibrant coloured feathers or the precision they maintain while flying past or landing, watching them in this region has been a favourite of mine.

Having seen many birds during my time, being able to witness these magnificent beings descends from the skies often seems like a dream, too good to be true. But what is more captivating is the fact that these birds and sightings are so accessible to witness, this close to home- something that is one of the true boons of this land.

Wonders from the Wetlands-1

The Covid-19 saga and the lockdown has been one of the toughest times that people had to face lately. As the battle with the invisible enemy continues, one positive effect has been the increasing in the number of wildlife in areas they originally used to thrive in.
The wetlands of Navi Mumbai have been fortunate enough to be the bearer of such a positive phenomenon. There has been a steady increase in the number of migratory birds in the region, especially those of flamingos during the lockdown.
Flamingos (Lesser & Greater) have been one the numerous migratory visitors to the wetlands in Navi Mumbai for quite sometime. I myself have documented them for half a decade. Inspite of having a late arrival this season, they were found visiting the region in scores during the months of April and May, right after the lockdown was implemented. As the lockdown put the country into a standstill, the drop in pollution levels, lack of movement and disturbances in the land might have prompted these magnificent creatures to take advantage and flock in numbers that never have been witnessed in a long time. Though I couldn’t visit the site to document this wonderful phenomenon, my heart is content. All I wish for is that when the world is back on track, people learn to be more responsible towards nature, nurturing and caring for such beautiful gifts for all of time to come.

Note- This image was made during the 2015-2016 period, a duration when I was documenting the region.

Sparrow Spotting

A male sparrow perches on the branch of a tree with a blade of glass in its beak before heading back to its nest during sunset.

I love the fact that we are able to spot sparrows much more often like we would in the past. There was a brief period when these little ones had become sparse in sight, maybe be due to the change in radio waves and pollution levels in the air. Though they can be mischievous at times, stealing fruits and vegetables being grow in the garden, I am more than happy to see them grow in numbers along with other flora and fauna in the region.

Marble’s Siesta

This is Marble. He is one of the many new fauna who have made their presence known after the lock down. As the land turned calm and quiet, many flora and fauna have got a much need break from the hustles of life to recover and rejuvenate.

Marble like to have his siesta in our garden, right under the shade of the coconut tree with the damp and soft soil serving as his bed. Marble does mind the intrusion by irresponsible humans who decide to jaywalk during a lock down. But he still keeps to his spot till the sun sets behind the hills. And if someone decides to disturb his peace and say hello, he maintains the social distancing norms up till 7 feet after which he takes off to another of his lairs.

Marble is a good and responsible cat. Be like Marble!

Myna at Sundown

A Myna perches on top a tree, a mandatory pit-stop before it heads for its nest at sundown.

Shooting subjects from a confined location is a challenge. Given the rather less geographical canvas to scan through and move about, one must look hard to spot a subject. And with the thick foliage around, it is often after a good game of hide and seek before a little one like this spares a moment, to get snapped before taking off to another location.

One positive effect of the lockdown is the dramatic increase in the number of birds. Though often hard to spot, they let their presence and numbers be known through amplified chirping and calls they make, something rather rare during a normal day.

Land Crab with Eggs

A Land Crab carries its eggs in its undercarriage across a dry stream at the valley section of the hills at Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.

What would seem as easy situations for us would often be the hardest and a matter of life or death for the residents of the hills. But inspite of all the trouble they come across, natural or man made, their ability to work past it slowly but steadily is a sight to be reckoned and a life lesson to be learnt from.

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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.

A group of greater flamingos take flight during noon, making their way towards the next destination for the day after a brief halt at the backwaters in Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.