Hundreds of thousands of pink flamingos have flooded the streets of Mumbai, bringing colour and some respite to the city sheltering from Covid 19.
The Indian city of 18 million has been under 'lockdown' measures since the 24th of March when PM Narendra Modi ordered his country's 1.3billion residents to stay at home.
However, in a whimsical turn, the city's streets have been emptied of humans and replaced with flamingos. The city enjoys an annual migration of pink birds in spring but this year there are far more than usual.
The Bombay Natural History Society reported that there are around 25 per cent more birds this year than average. Scientists have speculated that the flock of nearly 200,000 flamingos has been drawn into areas that have been abandoned by humans while they isolate indoors.
"A major reason for the large numbers is also the large flocks of juveniles moving to these sites, following the successful breeding documented two years ago," the director of BNHS Deepak Apte told the Hindustan Times.
"The lockdown is giving these birds peace for roosting, no disturbance in their attempt to obtain food, and overall encouraging habitat."
Mixed with heavy rains and the abundance of peace the society predicts the birds may be around for a lot longer. Another strange and smelly reason for flamingo numbers thriving is the drop in industrial waste and an increase of domestic sewage in the waterways.
"While there is a decline in industrial waste during the lockdown, the influx of domestic sewage is helping the undisturbed formation of planktons, algae and microbenthos formation, which forms the food for flamingos and other wetland birds," Rahul Khot the assistant director for the conservation group told the Times.
While this gruesome detail is less obvious to residents observing from the balconies, they can appreciate the remarkable sea of pink from the larger-than normal number of flamingos.
Locals in Navi Mumbai, to the East of the city have praised the calming effect of the graceful pink birds, while they shelter at home. "Residents are cooped up at home spending their mornings and evenings at their balconies taking photographs and videos of these relaxed birds," resident Sunil Agarwal told the Times. He hopes the area might become a sanctuary for flamingos after the crisis.
India's national lockdown is the largest in the world. Affecting over a billion people and an area of 3 million square kilometres the country has seen extreme challenges.
Some areas are already seeing benefits, beyond containment of the coronavirus. Last month, residents of Jalandhar and the Punjab region caught glimpses of the nearby Himalayan mountains for the first time in three decades. Normally the area in the foothills is affected by thick smog.
Federal air quality monitors reported an improvement in air quality in 85 cities since Indian workers were forced to stay home.