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A Disaster for Greater Flamingos

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PeterJ

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« on: June 15, 2008, 14:57 PM »
Thought forumers might be interested in an abridged version of a recent article I had written for a local rag.

Anyone fortunate enough to have witnessed the large flocks of Greater Flamingo at Fuente de Piedra cannot have failed to have been left with a lasting impression of wonder. Their pale colour suddenly transformed when outstretched wings reveal a deep and striking pink contrasting with their pale body colour and emphasised by black wing tips. Of course their size and unique shape make them instantly recognisable to almost all of us. 

Greater Flamingo first colonised Fuente de Piedra back in 1963 and has since made the area a star attraction for many visitors. With a maximum count of some 34,000 birds being present in the past then it is not surprising why many people want to make this area a ‘must see’ site during their stay in Andalusia. Since the first breeding in 1963 the lake and its attraction to wildlife in general has become increasing important to the local economy with many thousands of visitors coming specifically to see Flamingos. In fact, during recent times, the area has also become the most important breeding area in Spain for Flamingos. And so it is incredible that the lake should have suffered during the last few years from abuse both by local agriculture, taking water from the main streams feeding the lake, and most recently lethal pollution from a local factory! In all cases these abuses have taken no account of the importance of the lake to the local economy and its people or the areas important wildlife.

It is sad to report that the numbers of Flamingos present at Fuente de Piedra are now down to 4 individuals and that non-breeding has been drastically affected by abuses of self interest and the lack of managed water resources. Of course the economics of local agriculture and industry are an important consideration for the area, but the revenues generated by the attraction of the lake and the distribution of wealth this creates for the general population of Fuente de Piedra is by far a greater, or should be, consideration! It’s a classic example of the few benefiting at the expensive of the many. I hope that in the future, more efficient management of water resources and better policing of both water supply and quality will bring back those Flamingos who have deserted the area for 2008.


Peter  >:(
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Offline lucy

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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 09:37 AM »
Hi Peter,

From 34,000 to 4 individuals!  Has there been any official reaction locally? The factory responsible for the pollution - any chance of a fine, at least?  I'm one of those people who've expressly stayed in Fuente de Piedra to see them - and it was a breathtaking sight - a shifting pink cloud amongst the fields!

The loss of Fuente de Piedra has been the Delta del Ebro's gain this year.  After a late start, when it was feared they wouldn't be breeding at all, according to a report in El Periodico, a record number of 2,450 pairs of Flamingoes are breeding there, which sounds truly spectacular, and they attribute this to what's happened in Fuente de Piedra.

In this photo of the Delta from La Vanguardia, one of the Flamingos is stretching its wings, showing that  fabulous deep pink colour you describe.



http://www.elperiodico.com/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=46&idioma=CAS&idnoticia_PK=516493&idseccio_PK=1021
« Last Edit: June 16, 2008, 09:43 AM by lucy »

PeterJ

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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2008, 10:15 AM »
Hi Peter,

From 34,000 to 4 individuals!  Has there been any official reaction locally? The factory responsible for the pollution - any chance of a fine, at least?  I'm one of those people who've expressly stayed in Fuente de Piedra to see them - and it was a breathtaking sight - a shifting pink cloud amongst the fields!

The loss of Fuente de Piedra has been the Delta del Ebro's gain this year.  After a late start, when it was feared they wouldn't be breeding at all, according to a report in El Periodico, a record number of 2,450 pairs of Flamingoes are breeding there, which sounds truly spectacular, and they attribute this to what's happened in Fuente de Piedra.

In this photo of the Delta from La Vanguardia, one of the Flamingos is stretching its wings, showing that  fabulous deep pink colour you describe.



http://www.elperiodico.com/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=46&idioma=CAS&idnoticia_PK=516493&idseccio_PK=1021


Hi Lucy,

Its all a very shocking story and I guess the lack of response to this disaster and post is due in part to the ability of Greater Flamingos to find alternative sites for breeding i.e. Delta del Ebro. Of course these magnificent birds are also long-lived and so they are likely to return if the situation improves at Fuente de Piedra. My biggest concern is the amount of problems threatening other alternative sites and Fuente de Piedra, plus the apparent apathy that the disaster seemingly has attracted from those organisations and individuals who should be VERY concerned!

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com

Offline pendeen

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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2008, 01:06 AM »
Hi,
My family usually stay in one of the chalets in the campsite overlooking the lake.We usually stay twice a year.On hearing this news we won't be going thus depriving the area of our money.Do you have any contact addresses for local mayor etc so we can write and tell him/her why they won't be getting any money from us?
A very distressed Vince.

Offline nick

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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2008, 11:51 AM »
That's a good idea Vince
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PeterJ

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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2008, 11:54 AM »
 :clapping: Good idea Vince, but I have no idea on the contact details. Perhaps Clive will know, he usually does you know!

Peter
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2008, 14:56 PM »
Why don't you write to the camp site.... As a local business it will be in direct contact with the local authorities and would be a good vehicle for your complaints and concerns... The camp site after all depends on visitors and employs local people etc and has probably noticed a down turn in its customers due to the lack of Flamingoes... Word gets round the birding fraternity pretty quick and I suppose that Fuente de Piedra will be off the list of places to visit for many people...

Out of interest Vince, where will you be going instead this year?

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Offline pendeen

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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2008, 13:19 PM »
I've emailed the campsite.I doubt if they are to happy with there major attraction vanishing.
The problem with the flamingoes is that if they are driven from one area they may not be able to find another suitable one to go to.
This visit we will be travelling to Madrid not Malaga this time.So it isn't just a localised effect on the economy.My brother has a house in Extremadura and we will be staying with him.Hopefully when my house in finally sold in the UK I'll becoming out permanently.Our mother as well.
We know Extremadura pretty well and I'm looking forward to visiting the icecream kiosk at Monfrague whilst looking for vultures.I wonder why the kiosk never features in photographs? They always print "wildnerness" shots but conveniently leave out the kiosk!

PeterJ

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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2008, 21:04 PM »
I've emailed the campsite.I doubt if they are to happy with there major attraction vanishing.
The problem with the flamingoes is that if they are driven from one area they may not be able to find another suitable one to go to.
This visit we will be travelling to Madrid not Malaga this time.So it isn't just a localised effect on the economy.My brother has a house in Extremadura and we will be staying with him.Hopefully when my house in finally sold in the UK I'll becoming out permanently.Our mother as well.
We know Extremadura pretty well and I'm looking forward to visiting the icecream kiosk at Monfrague whilst looking for vultures.I wonder why the kiosk never features in photographs? They always print "wildnerness" shots but conveniently leave out the kiosk!

The Flamingos will find other places to breed, but I suppose a better title for my piece could have been 'A Disaster for Fuente de Piedra as Flamingos go missing'. It is a simple fact that the birds have deserted due to lack of water and if you look at the tale behind that, then it is not only a lack of rainfall, but due in no small part to the illegal extraction of water by local agriculture!

I shall take a look at the ice cream kiosk whilst passing on my way to the Picos. Sounds better than the birding!

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 22:35 PM by PeterJ »

Offline lisa

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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2008, 22:42 PM »
Hi Vince, you could always post a photo here, kiosk 'n' all, if you have one from previous visits  8)
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Offline pendeen

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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2008, 20:25 PM »
Hi Lisa,

I'll look throughmy photos and post if I've got one.I'll probably be there in a few weeks so I'll take a photo if I can't find one,

Cheers,
Vince.

PeterJ

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« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2008, 09:02 AM »
I should be around the area monday/tuesday-ish, so will see if its worth a photo Vince. I will certainly buy an icecream if its open!

Peter
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