Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pink Flamingos on Mai Kolachi

Pink flamingos on Mai Kolachi These days if you drive on Mai Kolachi expressway towards Queens Road, you can see something quite unusually pleasant as you look to your left. No, it’s not the grey silhouettes of the cranes at Karachi port but something else, and quite unexpected. As you cross the train tracks you see and get on to the bypass proper, keep driving till you go past the land being reclaimed, rather controversially, by the Karachi Port Trust, on your left. A bit beyond that is a stretch of shallow water, probably caused by the mangroves on the other side or by the tide. Here, every day I have been seeing the rather unexpected but very welcome sight of a large flock of pink flamingos in the water. In fact, each time I drive on this road, my head rather automatically — and rather dangerously — swings towards their general direction. I have seen them fly a few times and the sight is quite amazing because the pink in their feathers is sharp and striking. The only problem is that they are a bit further away from the road, so if you really want to get a closer look at them you will have to park your car on the side and walk as close to the shallow water as possible — hopefully without scaring them away. Since I hardly know much about these birds myself except that they look really pretty and exotic, and apparently fly all the way here from Russia, I decided to do some research on the matter for the benefit of readers. And quite a few interesting things turned up including the fact that Pakistan along with India is one of the major places where pink flamingos can be found every summer. The National Geographic website said that flamingos build nests out of clay and make them above the water. They feed while standing in shallow water and for this they have to lower their necks and tilt their heads so that their bills hang upside-down and face backward in the water. They apparently do this because this allows them to filter plankton, red and blue-green algae, insects, fish, molluscs, and small crustaceans from the water. The reason flamingos are pink has to do with the red and blue-green algae and insects they eat. These are high in certain pigments that cause the colour of the birds to become striking pink. The birds do come all the way from Siberia in Russia’s far east and because of the war in Afghanistan they, like many other birds, have changed their migratory routes and now fly via Iran. The mangroves in and around Karachi and the Indus delta basin are one of the prime places in the world for these incredible creatures. In fact, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, over 80 species of birds flock to the mangroves every year, so it is quite unfortunate that these wetlands are constantly under threat from various government agencies. — By Karachian

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