It is a cool sunday morning. I am walking down a long stretch of railway platform, which is teaming with people. A familiar monotone feminine voice from a grey loudspeaker rings gently in my ears. The announcement in three languages unfolds slowly, resulting in a peculiar effect on the people around me. The more impatient ones walk over to the edge and peer into the distance, waiting to catch a glimpse of something. I,on the other hand step back for a minute and look around. I then walked up to one of the food stalls. Most railway stations in India house a number of "platform" business operations. These range from blue uniformed shoe shine boys/men to refreshment kiosks that sell cool pineapple juice [among other things] for Rs6. I would love to enlighten you on these services, but I will leave that for another day
and an another post. Meanwhile at the refreshment stall a cup of tea is ordered - actually glass of chai is more accurate. The youngish looking man behind the glass counter,attired in an untucked khaki shirt, glides the "chai" glass skilfully over the counter. A glass of water is also added,this time with a thud rather then a slide. There was my first 'glass of chai' served with the first smileof the day.
[An empty 'glass of chai' on a winter morning - Depressing]
I slurped the Chai greedily. Halfway through my chai, a shrill low sound heralds the coming train. The 7:24 'Slow' to C.S.T - is steadily arriving onto platform 7 and I am soon off to Sewri. Sewri,let me remind you, is pronounced 'Shevdi', for the same reason that Wadala, Bandra and Panvel are spelled with Vs.
[Fellow commuters on Platform 7]
I love playing word association and if you shout Sewree at me the first words that would come into my mind are 'trucks' & 'pollution'. Sewri is not place I especially like. The question then arises why am I on the Harbour Line train bound for Sewree ? The answer to that is - Flamingos among other things.
Ashbird's post provided me with a map and directions so I decided to make a morning of it.
I blatantly ignored the map and headed to the Colgate factory first.
Standing there,on the grease stained, rocky beach with plastic bags strewn in all directions, with the heavy rumbling of the Colgate Palmolive factory behind me, I witnessed a sight which was a sort of an anti-climax to my current environment. A distant line of light pink covered the mudflats, the pink swayed in the tide like spring flowers in a summer breeze. I needed a better vantage. Walking to the jetty I could see the ruined Sewree Fort above so I decided to make a stop at the fort.
The Sewri Fort is a fort built by the British in northern Mumbai (Bombay). Its ruins stand on a quarried hill near Sewri area.
In 1769, Yadi Sakat of Janjira had conquered the Sewri and Mazagon Forts. It had a garrison of 50 sepoys under a subedar, and was probably equipped with 8-10 cannons. Its famous had cannons repelled a Portuguese attack in 1772.
[Sewri/Sewree Fort overun by vegetation]
[A barracks like structure in Sewree/Sewri Fort]
The kite shaped double walled fort is now in ruin and is sadly used more as a public toilet than the heritage site it is.A note of caution would be that the hill that the fort stands has been subject to excessive quarrying and parts of the outer wall have giving making it unsafe.
Let me admit it, I am not a much of a wildlife photographer. I am used to myprey standing patiently in front of me,hypnotised by the camera lens as I do my thing. However,in this case my "targets" were totally oblivious of me, eating smallcrustaceans and sea weeds. Well, that is the Lesser Flamingo for you.
The Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) is a species in the flamingo family of birds which occurs in Africa (principally in the Great Rift Valley), across to northwest India. It is the smallest and most numerous flamingo, probably numbering up to a million individual birds.Like all flamingos it lays a single chalky white egg on a mud mound. Most of the plumage is pinkish white.
The sun had just risen and land breeze had given way to a soft cool sea breeze and in this virgin sunlight was great beauty amongst great harshness. Rusting fishing boats, factories and an oil refinery was a backdrop for a gift of nature - a light pink blanket of flamingos. A more skilled photographer would have typified this image better but alas my amateurish skills can bring you only this.
[Flamingos Key - Blackish flamingos in the picture are infants, the ones with pink plumage are fully grown. The birds on the top corner of the pictures are sandpipers.]
[Kids at the Sewri Jetty]
[Aajis [Marathi : Grandmothers] on there morning outing.]
Sadly even though there is great beauty here it may all be gone in the not so distant future. The MSRDC - Mumbai Trans Harbour Link hopes to bridge this creek destroying a valuable avifauna habitat. BNHS and other agencies are putting up a fight-good luck to them.