The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which has been in existence for over a hundred years, regularly organizes outing for its members as also non members. After many false starts, we finally signed up for a half day program of Birding at Talawe, which is a patch of wetland located on the Palm Beach road in Navi Mumbai.
We were picked up at Diamond Garden, Chembur at seven in the morning and reached the destination at around eight. We were a group of fifteen in the bus and were joined by another ten enthusiasts, who had come to Talawe on their own. In hindsight, is the best option, if you have your own transport, as I will explain later.
Led by Julius Rego and Asif Khan, who were the BNHS resource persons, we started the trek into the wetlands, with the salt pans on one side of the path and mangrove on the other. Within minutes of entering he wetlands, Julius and Asif started pointing out various species of birds.
Thankfully, the binoculars we had carried, which is a must even to attempt birding, made a huge difference. For those without binoculars, the BNHS had thoughtfully set up a powerful view-scope.
As this was our first attempt at bird watching or birding, as it is called, we were just astonished at the number of birds that had gathered in this small patch of wet land with the Seawood Estate on one side and construction activity in full swing on another side.
We spent over an hour in the wet lands, before it got quite warm and we made our way back to the bus, where we ate the breakfast we had carried. Since some of the veterans could not tear themselves from birding, we ended up twiddling our thumbs for almost an hour. And that’s were having your own transport makes sense. Around eleven o’clock we started back for Mumbai and reached Diamond Garden a little before noon.
Overall, we had a great time and are looking forward to other outings organized by the BNHS. Maybe, we will even make another visit to Talawe on our own some morning during the bird watching season that extends up to February/March every year.
Some tips for first timers to birding
- Beg, borrow or… , but do take along a pair of binoculars. Preferably, one per head; sharing is not fun.
- Carry adequate drinking water. You will need it has the sun rises.
- Carry breakfast. Birding makes you hungry.
- A floppy cap, like the ones umpires wear during a cricket match, is the best headgear.
- Don’t get intimidated by the equipment some of the birders lug along, like cameras with huge zoom lens. Just try to ‘watch’ the birds and take in an many details, as you can.