My guests and I thought there was an African Spoonbill – which isn’t an uncommon bird in the area – but as we soon got closer out the waterhole, I burst with excitement when I realised that it was a juvenile greater flamingo.
Now, although not an uncommon bird, we do not get them in this region which begs the question: what was it doing feeding at a waterhole in the central parts of Londolozi?
During long flights or migration, birds regularly get lost or disorientated due to storms, hunting and regrettably, collisions with man made objects. When battling extreme weather conditions, migratory birds may be blown far off course and lose their sense of direction and arrive at a completely unintended destination. This often makes them local celebrities in the birding world by being a rarely seen bird in the area. These often tend to be juveniles, as young, inexperienced birds are known to be at a greater risk of getting lost on migration than older ones are; more experienced individuals are better at correcting deviations from their flight paths.
Little is known about the greater flamingo’s movements and migrations but what is certain is that most of it happens at night. Almost a week ago we had a large thunderstorm which brought us 70mm of rain and ended in few vehicles stuck in the mud, but that’s a story for another blog.
It was after this storm however, that the first sighting of the bird took place. It is believed that most of their movement takes place in response to inland rains and flooding of major pans.
A theory suggests that this juvenile flamingo adopted a wander-life in response to the incoming storm the other night. For what exact reason, I cant be sure. It could have anticipated big flooding where it was usually resident, or perhaps it is just hopelessly lost.
With heading into a proper wet season with the expectation of a lot of rain and more storms than recent years; I’m looking forward to what other wander life birds we going to see in and around the reserve.