Sunday, 18 March 2012

Maharashtra Nature Centre, Mumbai, March 2012

If you should ever, like me, explore the world through the wonders of Google Earth and like me, your eye comes to rest around Google Earth ref; 19 03 08N 72 51 46E where you find a small green oasis in the middle of Mumbai called the Maharashtra Nature Centre, don’t, like me, leave your visit until the afternoon because you may find it shut. One gate was padlocked and 3 guards at another refused me entry. It was 15.30 and a big sign on the gate clearly stated that 15.30 was closing time. Various websites give differing opening times with 18.00 being a popular closing time. Is there another gate somewhere that I missed? The websites such as this one give a good write up so I am still keen to visit one day. If anyone can give me the definitive opening times, I would be grateful.

The Powai River runs past the nature centre and through the mangroves into Mahim Bay. The return taxi ride took us over the bridge and we stopped for a few moments to walk along the bank at Google Earth ref 19 03 08N 72 50 50E. Upstream from here is Asia’s largest slum and the river is best described as ‘organic’.

I was surprised to see an Osprey fly over. Black-headed Gulls flew close to the mangroves on the far side and Gull-billed Terns mixed with them looking for floating matter on the river. There are a couple of small ponds here that held Indian Pond Heron, Common Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper.

Towards downtown Bombay, beyond the mangroves, large soaring birds could be seen. I am sure that they were vultures, but the atmosphere along the riverbank was not conducive to lingering and I could not get an adequate ID for them after the event. Four men came to watch what I was doing. Indians are seldom intimidating, but they find unusual behaviour fascinating and their close scrutiny was off-putting. House Crows and Black Kites were, of course, easy to find. Perhaps Powai Lake would have more to offer. With just a little afternoon light left, I headed there.

Birds seen; 8
Indian Pond Heron 5, Osprey 1, Black Kite 12, Wood Sandpiper 3 Common Sandpiper 5, Black-headed Gull 15, House Crow 400, Common Myna 8.
Visit the dedicated India page for more sites in Mumbai, including, Powai Lake and Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Powai River, Maharashtra Nature Centre, Bombay, Mumbai, BOM