The flamingo is an iconic bird, which attracts with its long legs, soft pink plumage, almost comically long S-shaped neck and graceful flight. In the last year, the number of flamingos in Atanasovsko Lake has broken all records and there are currently over 1,200 birds in the northern and southern parts of the lagoon.
But where does the Greater flamingo actually come from? Ringed birds give us the most reliable information, and although few have been found here so far, the data show the presence of birds from Turkey and France, and the last one observed in the fall came from Spain.
Here's what can be said about this bird.
The bird with a ring was first observed by Vladimir Mladenov (BSPB) on September 8, 2020, and Dr Petar Yankov (BSPB) observed it during the monitoring of the LIFE project "The Lagoon of Life" again on November 15 in the same pool. BBF sent the information from the ring X | ZHZ / P08801 to the Bulgarian Ornithological Station - the institution responsible for our country under the mechanism for exchange of information from ringed bird species. Each country stores ringed bird data in a similar structure, and when a ring is found, a request is sent to the authority in that country, which shares the available information and this helps to learn more about the movements and behaviour of the feathered inhabitants.
We recently received the long-awaited information that this flamingo was ringed on August 4, 2019, as a newly hatched individual, vital and in good health. Probably this helped him fly 2231 km (in a straight line) from Punta de la Banya, Spain to Atanasovsko Lake, Bulgaria.
We can only guess what the path of this flamingo to Atanasovsko Lake was because there is no information where it was stopped and observed in the meantime. Did it fly through the large wetlands along the coast of France (Camargue), Italy, and then over Albania and Serbia? Or has it crossed the Mediterranean over Sardinia and Corsica? Or it may have chosen to fly over Africa, the Aegean islands, Greece and Turkey. Such information can be provided by satellite tracking - a relatively new and much more informative method than ringing, but so far this practice is not very common for flamingos.
The bird is hatched and ringed in Punta de la Banya, Tarragona, Catalonia. The exact place is the Trinidad Salt Pans (http://www.infosa.com/en#.X_V9odgzZPY ) - small craft salt pans in the delta of the Ebro River, with an area of 1000 ha. They have been producing high-quality sea salt since the 14th century. And although their area is almost twice smaller than Atanasovsko Lake, they produce twice as much salt than in our country. This is due to both the warmer and drier climate of the Catalan coast and the higher salinity of the Mediterranean Sea. Judging by the satellite photos, the bird is ringed in a pool with similar characteristics and place in the technological cycle as the pool in which it was observed in Atanasovsko Lake. These are evaporating basins with salinity from 40 to 60 ‰ - one of the most representative and rich in biodiversity parts of coastal lagoons.
The Ebro delta (the second longest river in Spain) contains extensive spills with rich biodiversity and large production of salt and rice on the Mediterranean coast of Catalonia. The whole area is an important Ramsar site and has several Natura 2000 sites, including marine waters. Here is one of the most beautiful nature parks in Spain - the Ebro Delta (https://www.ebre.com/inici.php?id=ca&seccio=delta ), combining unique coastal, marine and freshwater habitats and home of hundreds of bird species. The river forms long and extensive sandy slopes, which are preferred wild beaches.
There is no reliable information about what made this flamingo travel the great distance between Spain and Bulgaria, but it certainly finds the conditions it needs in Atanasovsko Lake - food, tranquillity and safe places. And whether the flamingo will increase in number, stay here for a long time or nest - remains to be seen.