Our first day back in the Algarve and already a rarity! Not for the first time our reward for helping out with the monthly wetland bird count at Castro Marim was seeing something unusual.
A few weeks ago we received news that a pair of Lesser Flamingos was breeding among the many thousands of Greater Flamingos at Laguna Fuente de Piedra in the Málaga province of Spain. We know from colour-ringing that many of the Greater Flamingos we see in the Algarve originate from there so maybe then it shouldn’t have been such a surprise this afternoon to see a Lesser Flamingo among the many Greaters at Castro Marim.
Of course, today’s bird could be from somewhere else completely but it’s nice to think that it might have come from Laguna Fuente de Piedra and that it might stay in our area into the winter. Even among the many hundreds of Greaters it should be easy enough to locate from its smaller size, all dark bill and generally pinker appearance.
We have only once before seen a Lesser Flamingo at Castro Marim; that was on 1st July 2007. All records of this species are, of course, subject to scrutiny by the Portuguese Rarities Committee and even when accepted they are usually accompanied by a comment about the possibility of escape from captivity. The breeding birds in Spain may well be from a wildfowl collection somewhere - who knows?
Lesser Flamingos are birds that we are more used to seeing in Africa mainly in the Rift Valley lakes of Ethiopia and Tanzania.