15,000 Flamingos at Larnaka and Akrotiri Salt Lakes this year

29 January 2016

Hundreds of Cypriot citizens and tourists have been flocking to Larnaka Salt Lake the past few weeks to admire the amazing Flamingos that have arrived in Cyprus in their thousands in search of food and shelter. According to the most recent bird count, 12,500 Flamingos have settled at Larnaka Salt Lake and 2,500 more at Akrotiri Salt Lake.

The black Flamingo that was first seen in Cyprus in early April 2014 has been spotted several times at both Akortiri and Larnaca Salt Lakes, as the Flamingos are known to move between the two Salt Lakes depending on which has the more favourable conditions. ‘Our’ black flamingo is probably unique being completely black with a small tuft of white feathers visible near its rump. It is almost certainly the same individual that was seen in Eilat, Israel in February 2014.

These birds are a protected species and constitute a globally significant number and Larnaka Salt Lake has been declared as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar) due to the number of Flamingos it hosts in the winter.

These birds however are very sensitive to disturbance. A lot of people were reported to be seen entering the Salt Lake wearing galoshes or even barefoot in an effort to get closer to the Flamingos and get a better look at them. This reckless behaviour is a great problem in itself and causes considerable disturbance to this species. Some people have even taken it a step too far by flying Drones over the birds so that they can get footage.

With constant disturbance around, the birds are unable to rest or find food in peace, which is what brought them to our island in the first place. Not being able to properly rest during the winter months has negative effects on the breeding success of certain species during breeding season in spring. Therefore, it is very likely that this sort of disturbances will not allow the birds to gather the strength needed for breeding season.

BirdLife Cyprus in its efforts to inform and encourage people to enjoy the Flamingos without disturbing them, will be at Larnaka Salt Lake every weekend with telescopes so that nature lovers can enjoy these magnificent birds from a safe distance.

For up-to-date announcements regarding the time and place for the weekend meetings please check our Facebook page on www.facebook.com/BirdLifeCyprus

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