A Guide To Flamingo Observation in Mumbai and Thane

A Guide To Flamingo Observation in Mumbai and Thane
A flock of Greater Flamingos in the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary. Credit: Shutterstock / Aneesh Kotwal

If you are planning to visit Mumbai or Thane during the winter months, make sure to go flamingo-watching

November 22 , 2022
03 Min Read

Winter has come, and Mumbai, Thane, and the surrounding areas are welcoming the Greater and Lesser Flamingos. They migrate from states such as Gujarat and Rajasthan, as well as from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even Israel. The flamingos’ arrival and departure are dependent on the movement of the monsoon. A late receding of the monsoon, will delay the arrival of the birds, and vice versa.   

A Greater Flamingo in flight


Count Them In 

The number of flamingos migrating to Mumbai has increased dramatically in recent years. The results of a Bombay Natural History Society 2019 census showed 1,21,000 flamingos inhabiting Mumbai. The study shows that the number of the Lesser Flamingo is rising, while that of the Greater Flamingo is declining. While former requires saline water to live and breed in, the latter thrives in brackish water.

A flock of Lesser Flamingo near Bhandup Pumping Station

Packed With Pink 

Painting the creeks and mudflats in varied hues of pink, these gentle birds wade through the water to get a fill of their favourite food, blue-green algae. The algae are also why the flamingos (Spanish/Portuguese for ‘flame-coloured’) are pink. The grey fledglings feast on the brine shrimp and other small crustaceans, which feed on carotenoid-rich blue-green algae. This beta-carotene pigment turns their feathers pink. You can imagine the amounts of algae-fattened shrimp they ingest!

Flamingos at Sewri

Hot Spots 

There are three places for flamingo observation:  

Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, Bhandup Pumping Station bird-watching area, and the Sewri mud flats. The last one is now a restricted area, for the next seven years, due to the construction of the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link.

At the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, you can visit the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Museum. It is a treat, especially for the kids. Boat rides take place only during high tides since it is easy to reach closer to the birds and navigate. At Thane and Bhandup, you will see many other migratory birds, as well as indigenous animals, and insects. These regions are high-level biodiversity spots. Besides Mumbai, vast flocks of flamingos have been spotted at Uran, in Navi Mumbai, and Panju Island, in Vasai creek, Palghar district.

Flamingos during high tide in Thane creek

Safety: Please follow the guides' instructions, and do not attempt to disembark from the boat or distract the birds with sounds or actions. It is suggested you carry mosquito/insect repellent. 

Clothing: Ensure you are wearing pants and full-sleeved shirts. The shoes must be sturdy and water-resistant, if possible. Carry sunglasses, scarves, hats, etc.; it will get sunny.

Photography:If you want good photographs, try to visit early in the morning, preferably before 9 a.m., especially since tide timings vary.

Flamingos search for a bite at the mud flats of Sewri.

Where: Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and Bhandup Pumping Station

Best time to visit: November to April

Timings: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Boat rides are subject to high-tide timings

How to get there:

Bhandup Pumping Station: Via the Eastern Express Highway, 32 km, approximately from Churchgate. It is 6 km, approximately from Powai.

Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary: 37 km, approximately, from Churchgate. It is 13 km, approximately from Powai.


Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary:

Tel: 9987673737 


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