By Shashank Devulapally
Flamingos. The word conjures up images of bright pink birds, with their huge beaks, curved necks and spindly legs, in distant foreign lands. When I got to know that these exotic birds migrate to Hyderabad in the winter, and can be spotted at Ameenpur lake on the outskirts of the city, I had to see them for myself.
Ameenpur lake, a lush green oasis, is a paradise for bird watchers. As I scanned the waterfront, I was immediately rewarded by the sight of a large flock of flamingos, at one edge of the lake. Standing majestically in the water, pruning themselves, these Flamingos are a pale pink, with a splash of shockingly bright pink feathers at the wings.
As flamingos get their colour from a pigment found in the algae they eat, these birds change colours depending on where they feed. I was lucky to spot a few with their characteristic bright feathers, especially when they took flight, and their beauty and grace was astounding.
These foreign visitors, unaware of their special status, seemed quite at home at the lake and I spent a happy few hours clicking photographs and admiring them from a distance. The brightness of their pink made a striking contrast to the fresh green vegetation, their size smaller than what I had anticipated. They are cautious of human visitors and kept walking away from the edge so it was difficult to get too close.
Some cultures believe that flamingos are spiritual, that their bold presence must inspire confidence in you to follow your heart. Irrespective of whether we believe this or not, it is hard to walk away from these birds without feeling happiness in your heart and a spring in your step.
As I walked away, I was very disturbed by the beginnings of urban construction, right at the lake front. Although recently declared as a biodiversity heritage lake, challenges in the form of encroachment and pollution are plenty. I hope that these birds continue to inspire us and we are able to protect its natural habitat, making a welcome home away from home for them.
Incidentally, Ameenpur lake is the first water body in the country to get the Biodiversity Heritage site tag. Senior IPS officer Tejdeep Kaur Menon has done commendable work on this 93.15 acre lake, launching a series of clean-up campaigns. The Telangana Special Protection Force has adopted this lake, planting over 4000 saplings on the lake bed and the fringes.
(All photographs shot by Shashank Devulapally )