A recent rather grey morning was enlivened by the group of about a dozen, mostly juvenile, Greater Flamingos that I came across here in Tavira. For once they were close to the roadside and I was able to stop and take a few photographs. Three of the birds were colour-ringed and I have now received confirmation that one of them was ringed in Sardinia. Details of the other two are still awaited but the ring numbers/colours indicate that both are Spanish-ringed birds, one from the Marismas del Odiel and the other from Fuente de Piedra.
The Sardinian bird was one of 501 Flamingo chicks ringed on 1st August 2009 at Saline di Macchiareddu, near Cagliari, a site where an estimated 6,000 young were hatched last year.
It is well-known that Greater Flamingos do not necessarily return to breed in the colony where they were reared. Birds ringed in the Camargue (France), in Fuente de Piedra (Spain) and in Sardinia (Italy) have all been found breeding in other colonies around the Mediterranean and similarly birds ringed in Iran have been recovered throughout the Mediterranean, East Africa, and Asia.
A small group of birds like these in Tavira containing individuals from at least three different breeding colonies suggests that rather than staying together in family groups in the winter like, for instance, Common Cranes, Greater Flamingos quickly make new friends. So maybe that’s why some of them don’t return to their colony of hatching.