Photographing Flamingos and other waders at Sewri Jetty using a Mirror Lens

SEWRI JETTY 19.00°N 72.86°E

A Flamingo in flight at Sewri Jetty

Sewri – an industrial hub located along the Eastern Waterfront in Mumbai is home to Flamingos during the winter months.

My bird-watching escapades started here on the 15th of November 2009. Early on a rainy morning, some fifteen of us – members and guests of the Bombay Natural History Society under the guidance of a couple of Resource People – Ornithologists assembled opposite the railway crossing at Sewri.

Trucks and cargo-carriers line the roads that lead to the jetty. At first, it is hard to imagine that this stretch leads to mangroves and mudflats inhabited by migratory birds.

The Spotted Redshank, Tringa erythropus

Redshanks, Godwits, Egrets, Herons etc. to name a few and of course – the Flamingo. Everybody appreciated the sights and sounds that were on offer.

The Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa (above and below)

I noticed that plastic bags & bottles and kerosene spilling out of the several motorboats and barges anchored here had polluted the ocean and mudflats. Unseasonal and acid rains must be further deteriorating the natural habitat of these waders. An over bridge might be constructed here sooner rather than later. It threatens to destroy the mudflats – the natural habitat of these migratory birds forever.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

The Flamingos wander close to the approach road in the mornings till about 6:30 am. This is probably the best time to check them out. And as the tides come in (usually between 10:30 AM and 11:00 AM in the months of Nov. Dec. Jan and Feb.) they take off to similar mudflats in nearby Chembur and Navi Mumbai (New Bombay). And return back to Sewri once the waters have receded. I have been to Sewri just once during the evening (in Feb.) The flock of flamingos flew in at about 5:15 PM. I do not have any first-hand information about activities at Sweri between 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM.

Flamingos in low flight at Sewri Jetty

The sight of the flamingos queuing up and taking off in a low-flight is breathtaking – especially through a spotting-scope.

In the evenings at about 4 o’clock as the waters continue to recede, people living in and around here cast their little circular nets looking for crabs. And once the waters have receded completely, elderly women submerged their feet in the mud, franticly looking for metal that the barges and other boats might have accidentally dispersed during high tides. They then sell it to the nearby scrap dealer in exchange of money.

The Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola

Technical Notes

  • The Mirror Lens does not score any points for Contrast – especially in low light. It does not reproduce colour well either.
  • A film speed of 1250 ISO was necessary to obtain a fast enough shutter speed in low light.
  • 400 ISO and above is often a must even in optimum conditions.
  • The photos of waders like Godwits and Redshanks over backgrounds of brownish mudflats look ordinary. The poor colour reproduction and low contrast make it difficult to differentiate the bird from its surroundings.
  • Results improved marginally once it got brighter.
  • The Motor Drive is a good idea. It not only minimises hand shakes in-between frames but also captures the bird in different head and body positions at one go as they fiddle around.

Oriental White Ibis

The Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea

The Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius

The Little Stint, Calidris or Erolia Minuta

India Short-toed Lark or Indian Sand Lark, Calandrella Raytal

The White-throated Kingfisher or the White-breasted Kingfisher or Smyrna Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis




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14 responses to “Photographing Flamingos and other waders at Sewri Jetty using a Mirror Lens

  1. Wow, well done with capturing so many different birds. Quite thrilling when you get a reasonable shot isn’t it? Best Wishes. Anne

  2. I’m impressed! The photo of the White-bellied Sea Eagle is fantastic, I’m jealous, such a magnificent bird. Great shot with the foliage of the tree and all. Best Wishes, Anne

  3. Love the photo of the White-throated Kingfisher as well. Great Shot! Anne

  4. Pingback: Birdwatching along the canal at Dieman in Amsterdam « bird photography with a mirror lens

  5. Pk

    Good documentation. A couple misidentifications:
    1. the sandpiper marked wood sandpiper is a common sandpiper. note the white cutting into the wings at the shoulder
    2. the bird marked lark is a female house sparrow

  6. Pingback: Birdwatching in Benaulim, Goa, dec.11 | bird photography with a mirror lens

  7. To photograph these birds especially flamingoes, what was the focal length used. This is to know what lens would be suitable>

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