Birding. Funny that i didnt know that was even a word till 6 months ago. Bird watching- funnier that the word holds no relevance for the feathered species.
Birders will tell you that Navi Mumbai, Sewri , Uran and the Karnala bird sanctuary are havens for our ilk. Thing is for an aspiring / novice enthusiast there is no informed way to find out. For Navi Mumbai I had to ask my colleague who lives there to nose around, which he bless his soul willingly did.
As I try to balance my understanding of photography with my new found love for birding ( dunno if my new passion is photography or birding.. Time will tell) , I am amazed to learn about the plethora of birding opportunities around Mumbai. There is so much to see apart from the crow, pigeon and the occasional pond herons in Mumbai. It is a whole new world. And a beautiful one. From storks to flamingoes to spoon bills and snake birds. Would you believe Snake Birds! There are easily around 70 to 100 bird species around mumbai. A guesstimate of course.
For Sewri, my chauffeur who used to work in the docks miraculously knew the exact location, and Uran, I happened to get acquainted with an avid photographer and birder who told me the first location to exaction. The second, I had to figure , because I wasn’t to well versed with the location. So, though his landmarks were perfect, 1 wrong turn and we were off by 20 mins.
And here comes the rant… With the locals in these areas blissfully unaware of the paradises that these are, the govt , BMC or whoever doesn’t have the courtesy to have a single location map or even signage small or big to help our ilk. These places mind you are gold mines … And if maintained well, most birders will pay some monies to enter these areas too. The different between the Ranganthettu Bird Sanctuary and Karnala Bird Sanctuary as a case in point. The former is a birding paradise with boatsmen willing to come even at 6 am for a reasonable sum. At the latter, well, you have no guide, so where do you go? The BNHS site isn’t of great help at giving sound info. Even the net isn’t that useful with a few blogs here and there , but all mostly dated. There is little doubt that the are many like me. Saw them everywhere I went. Question is, how do budding enthusiasts like me actually get to know of simple information like where are these locations. Ways to get there. Signages once you enter the far out places… For example, if you are late by an hour and miss the flamingoes, how do you know you are even at the right place? There is no signage to suggest that.
Or, which birds are seen in which areas and on which season do you see what. Again, to the trained and experienced birder these questions may be redundant. To the novice however, these are important questions that can help in fuelling our new found passion and hobby.
Hopefully, somewhere along the way I can meet someone who can help put a definitive site or blog that constantly updates locations , movements and sighting seasons for Mumbai… Till then, every trip will continue to be a Hitchcockian film … Now you see the birds, now you don’t.