This week the spotlight falls on one of my personal favourites in the park
The largest of the 6 species of Flamingo, Greaters are found throughout parts of Africa, as well as breeding in India & Pakistan and Southern Europe (including France, Italy & Spain). Occasional sightings are reported in the UK but can usually be attributed to escapes from zoos and private breeders, although it won’t be long before a genuine wild Flamingo graces our shores.
Their status in the wild is least concern, with a population over half a million but threats from pollution, lead poisioning and damming of rivers are all factors that may threaten the birds.
Flamingos are known for their pink colouration and the Greaters are the palest of the 6. The coloration comes from the carotenoid pigment found in the organisms that the birds feed upon. A deeper shad of pink can be found on their wing along with black primary feathers. Males and females are the same with the exception that males are taller
The bird resides in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. Using its feet, the bird stirs up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms and molluscs. The Greater Flamingo feeds with its head down and its upper jaw is movable and not rigidly fixed to its skull. Feeds here are in the form of a pellet that contains the colour needed to stay pink. The birds can also access natural food in the river as well.
They are excellent swimmers with webbed feet and can often be seen swimming in the river at Birdland. Long legs help them wade to areas other birds could not reach.
Breeding wise a mound of mud is constructed as the nest with a solitary white egg laid in a small depression on top. Incubation lasts for 28 days and is conducted by both parents. The chick hatches with a straight beak and grey in colour, with the parents feeding a crop milk to the young.
We currently house 16 Greater Flamingos, with 6 males and 10 females. The birds are fed in front of the public each day at 11.30 with a short presentation about the birds.
The Flamingos are health checked every couple of months to ensure they are not getting fat and that their feet are OK (we get a lot of rubbish wash through from the village). We also take the chance to clip their flight feathers at the same time to ensure no escapes.
We encourage breeding with providing earth/soil for nest material and if little interest is shown, we may build a few nests and even place dummy eggs out to encourage someone to incubate, leading the rest of the group to think it is safe to breed. Our group range in age from 4 to 56, with the oldest known captive Flamingo living to the age of 83, whilst in the wild 54 is the best I have heard of.
We hope to have Flamingo Web Cam up and running soon on the Greaters
In other news this week
7 Roul Roul Partridge eggs have gone in the incubator. Last year mum sat well on her own eggs but these 7 were found spread between 3 different nests so we have taken them in the hope that she should start again
The Fulvous Tree Ducks are laying with at least 4 eggs
The female Grey Peacock Pheasant is finally incubating her own eggs, at the fourth time of asking this year
The Bartlett’s Dove egg was found broken
Spike the King Penguin has finished his moult, whilst Oscar & Frank are starting
It was another very busy Bank Holiday Monday, with over 1100 people in
Wildlife wise, a couple of Toads have been spotted and there are Treecreeper about
Thanks for reading