You don't have to travel all the way outside Mumbai to see thousands of beautiful birds. Just a few kilometers away from the urban squalor of the city, amid industrial waste lies Thane Creek, home to more than 25,000 flamingos and many other bird species including ospreys, painted storks, terns, herons, ibis and others.
In March this year, the Maharashtra Forest Department prepared a proposal to notify up to 7 to 8 kilometers of mangrove forests and adjoining mudflats along the western part of the Thane creek as a ‘wildlife protected area’. Now the Maharashtra government issued a notification declaring the northern part of Thane Creek as a flamingo sanctuary, the state’s second marine sanctuary after Malvan.
The 1690 hectare wildlife sanctuary will include mangrove forests and adjoining mudflats between the Vashi and Airoli bridges. Now called the “Thane Creek Sanctuary," it will extend up to the wetlands of Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Kanjurmarg and Mandale.
The birds are migratory in nature and often travel thousands of kilometers based on the season. Since 1994, the Thane Creek has seen a drastic increase in the number of migratory flamingos. They stay in Mumbai till May, after which most of them migrate to the Bhuj area of Gujarat for breeding. If you are interested in seeing these Lesser Flamingos perform courtship dance, just like the ones in this video by Aneesh Kotwal, you are now just one boat ride away. The state government has also initiated to start a boat service from Gateway of India to allow tourists and birdwatchers to catch a glimpse of thousands of flamingos in the creek area.