In Search of Pink Feathers
Having discovered the liking for photography and being a long time fan of our feathered friends, I set out with a friend to Sewri Bay in Mumbai. It is about 30 kilometers away so I woke up, packed some sandwiches and drove away even before the sunrise, to beat the vicious Mumbai traffic. Not being properly ear marked on the maps, I felt it was going to be a struggle finding the spot where thousands of Flamingos are spotted every year from October to March. The mud flats at Sewri serve as a breeding ground for these birds, but in recent years their numbers seem to be declining from a well over thousands to just a few hundreds.
Despite leaving in the wee hours of the morning we still got caught in the traffic and when we finally emerged, it was a completely new side of Mumbai that I have never seen before. We passed through unguarded railway tracks and horrifyingly huge storage godowns that reminded me of those horror movies where people are chased and killed. Even during the morning times it looked completely deserted and spooky that I did not stop my car to take a picture. The search for the Bay area seemed endless but after asking several locals and getting lost many more times, we finally made it to our destination.
It was quiet with a few people already there with cameras trying to capture some white birds located at a distance one could barely make them out as birds. But what caught my attention first was a series of abandoned boats lying in the murky water and a tree nearby with no leaves on it.The site was appalling and I was a little disappointed because it was nothing like what I had seen in the pictures on the internet.
To prevent my hunger and exhaustion from accentuating my disappointment, I decided to eat something before I did anymore exploration. The sandwiches and hot coffee gave me the determination to spot the pink feathers. It was the month of January, well within the time when the Flamingos are expected to be there.
But still there was none within the range of my camera lens. I was really disappointed and decided to return before the Mumbai traffic transformed from vicious to deadly. I fumbled for my car keys but they were not there in my pockets. Without thinking twice and with the camera still around my neck, I ran to the spot where I suspected to have dropped them. And thankfully they were there, otherwise having lost the car keys and not spotting a bird up close would have been a total setback. But as I made my way back, I saw a path to the left of the broad road flanked by sea on both the sides. It had filth strewn all over it but there were some people who made their way onto it somehow. Being curious, I followed them and signaled my friend to follow me. As I carefully made my way through the filth that had made the rocks extremely slippery, I saw some photographers pointing their cameras to behind the trees. And there they were !!! A huge flock of beautiful white birds, just waiting to be clicked ! They were not the flamingos I had come to click but definitely a great sight. I clicked a few pictures but they did not turn out to be much in focus because of the sun being in the opposite direction and the restricted range of my lens.
I took couple of shots of the birds but there were more beautiful scenes to be captured. There was a tree right in the middle of the water and a branch that looked as if it had grown right out of the sparkling water. I never imagined I could see something so beautiful in a city like Mumbai.
The path was not very long and there was no scope for me to get any closer to those white birds. I have been looking for the names of birds but even after asking four bird watchers and several of my friends with interest in wildlife photography and looking over the internet, I am still unable to figure it out. To be very honest, I do not really care much now since they were neither pink nor they were flamingos.
I turned around to make my way back when I spotted a fisherman throwing net into the water. The water looked so blue almost merging with the blue sky. From that far a distance I could only capture the silhouette of the fisherman. There were some wooden stilt like structures sticking out from the water. I am not very sure about their purpose but my guess is that they are there to help ascertain the level of water. Apart from the people with their cameras, this was the only other human activity I encountered in the bay area.
This was enough for the day and I finally asked my friend to get in the car and we drove back home which was another struggle in the Mumbai traffic. And that is when this beautiful white bird flew past us and made my day !!!
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