Colour Me Pink

Just learnt today that the flamingos known for their beautiful pink and orange colours are not born that way. The babies have grey or white feathers which gradually change their colour with time because of their diet. They eat algae or shrimp which contain carotenoids (plant pigments) which turn the feathers more and more colourful with age. So if you see a deep orange flamingo, treat it with respect. It’s definitely older and wiser than you.

I went to the Sewri jetty for the second time this year for a photo-walk and struck pink this time. The low tide was just about an hour away and the flamingos were there; not in large numbers but near the shore.

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These lesser flamingos from Siberia congregate at Kutch to breed and then fly to Bombay towards winter in search of an ensured supply of food and water. What saddens me is that these winter visitors may stop visiting Bombay after a few years because of the encroachment of human population into the mangroves. A major threat is the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link which is proposed to come up far too close to the flamingo habitat.

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Using their bills as a strainer, the flamingos separate the algae from the water for feeding. The algae are abundant in the alkaline water of the mudflats.

If you are planning to drop in sometime, do check the tide timings and also visit the Sewri Fort just around the corner. The fort built by the British in 1680 served as a watch tower and has been refurbished a few years ago. Small but worth a trip.

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