Flamingos breed again at the Ebro delta
The flamingos at the Ebro delta have bred again after a year without doing so (2015). Although it is rather late, the breeding colony of flamingos has settled in a dyke at Trinidad salt flats in Punta de la Banya. On 14 June the Natural Park technical team carried out a photographic flight at a height of 400m, and thanks to this 898 breeding pairs were counted.
The flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus is a species which is found at the Ebro delta all year round, although there are strong seasonal fluctuations and the highest numbers are recorded during the winter. There are reports that this bird bred here abundantly during the sixteenth century, although there have been no records of more breeding until 1970-80 when several attempts failed. Flamingos began to breed successfully in 1993 and they are currently one of the most emblematic species at the Ebro Delta Natural Park, the only place where they breed in Catalonia and one of the very few stable locations in the western Mediterranean. Until 2016 the flamingo bred successfully on 21 occasions (84% of the total years) and the number of pairs fluctuated a lot, ranging from 251 to 3,137 pairs.
The flamingo adapt well to living in unstable environments (coastal marshlands, endorheic lagoons, salt flats…) and it is quite common that due to natural causes (largely meteorological), they do not breed every year, or do so in small numbers. On the other hand, they are very sensitive to any disturbances in nesting areas, which is why they usually choose quiet places surrounded by water (thereby avoiding land predators; foxes, badgers…)
Flamingos at the Ebro delta breed in the Trinidad salt flats (Punta de la Banya partial nature reserve) and preferably occupy Tora dels Conills Island which is in the middle of a salt pan. However, since 2008, coinciding with an increase in the yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis population on the island, flamingos have started to occupy dykes at the salt flats. At these dykes flamingo colonies are much more vulnerable to land predators, and one year (2015), this even stopped them from breeding. The Natural Park is aware of this problem – which also attacks other species of threatened birds – and thus have taken measures to control gull and fox populations at Trinidad salt flats.
Although at a rather late date in terms of the phenology of this species at the Ebro delta, the flamingo colony settled in 2016 at a dyke in the salt flats, which has so far been a success. A photographic flight at great altitude (400m), carried out on 14th June, made it possible to recount 898 pairs of breeding birds. From now on it will be necessary to strengthen surveillance of the reserve, and if all goes well, start preparing procedures for ringing.
Development of the colony of breeding flamingos at the Ebro delta (1992 – 2016)