Where to spot flamingos on a Kenya safari

Where to spot flamingos on a Kenya safari : Flamingos are magnificent birds with pink feathered coats. However, there are now just six different species of flamingo in existence. However, birders can still easily locate them. Since they are extremely versatile, these birds are typically found close to damp settings.

In the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East, and close to the Mediterranean, flamingos can be spotted. However, Africa is one of the best places to witness the stunning sight of a great number of flamingos especially on a Kenya safari.

It’s crucial to understand the types of flamingos that can be found in Africa before continuing. In Africa, there are two categories of species:

  1. Lesser flamingoes.

  Of the five flamingo species, lesser flamingos are the shortest. These birds’ beak, legs, and plumage are all pink. Lesser flamingos appear to have brighter colours than other kinds.  They are under one metre tall, with small heads, and lengthy necks. Flamingo females are smaller than males. In the wild, lesser flamingos can survive for up to 40 to 50 years.

Benthic diatoms and microscopic blue-green algae make up the entirety of their extremely specialized diet. This is only present in estuaries, salt pans, salty lagoons, and alkaline lakes. They may also consume small aquatic invertebrates like rotifers to some extent.

Eastern and Southern Africa are the main habitats for smaller flamingos. The Rift Valley Lakes, Southern Namibia, and Botswana are the finest places to see these birds. They are also found in several areas of Ethiopia and Sudan.

  1. Greater flamingoes.

The largest species to be found is the Greater flamingoes. They have a long, slim neck and what appear to be pale pink bills with black tips that bend downward. The majestic wingspan of a greater flamingo ranges from 1.4 to 1.7 metres. Greater flamingos can live for 30 to 40 years in the wild. These birds prefer warmer, wetter areas. They live close to estuaries and alkaline or saline lakes.

Crustaceans, mollusks, crabs, insects, worms, and even tiny fish make up their diet. They also consume mud to purge it of any organic materials it may contain, as well as shoots, grass seeds, decomposing leaves, algae, and shoots. Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania are the continents where you can find most flamingos.

The bills of Greater and Lesser flamingos can be used to tell them apart. Greater flamingos have pink bills, whereas lesser flamingos have darker ones.

Flamingoes do not inherit their stunningly beautiful plumage from their parents or even from their DNA. They have a dull grey color when they are first born. They gradually take on a reddish-pink hue as they consume algae and crustaceans for food.

This is due to the pigments, which are unique colouring compounds found in algae and crustaceans. Therefore, it follows that the saying “you are what you eat” perfectly describes flamingos.

The Great Rift Valley.

The Great Rift Valley is one of Africa’s most well-known landmarks. It is a component of the intra-continental ridge system that passes through Kenya from north to south. Within the African continent, Kenya is home to 64 lakes, 8 of which are located in the Kenyan Rift Valley.

The Rift Valley is a home to magnificent lakes, picturesque roads, and unusual species. One of the best places to see flamingos is in the beautiful freshwater lakes.

These are some of the famous spots to witness flamingos in Kenya:

  1. Lake Bogoria. 

Kenyan territory is divided by Lake Bogoria. It is renowned for its bubbling thermal springs and boiling geysers. One of the best spots to watch flamingos in their millions is close to the ocean. Flamingoes near a hot geyser in Lake Bogoria. The majority of lesser flamingos are found at Lake Bogoria. These birds have moved in large numbers from Lake Nakuru to Bogoria. Because of their enormous numbers, you can see them all year.  But from August through October is the optimum time to see the alkaline lake become pink from the flamingos.

  1. Lake Nakuru.

One of the well-known soda lakes in the Rift Valley is Lake Nakuru. The lake’s alkalinity attracts enormous flocks of flamingos from all over the world. Due to the presence of flamingos along the lake’s coast and the blue algae that they eat, Lake Nakuru takes on a pink hue. The primary foods that flamingos consume are blue-green algae, prawns, and a few aquatic invertebrates. Since Lake Nakuru is a park and has an abundance of blue-green algae, it is the perfect habitat for flamingos. These lakes have also been flooded in recent years by heavy rains, which has sent flamingos back into Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park.

Flamingos abandoned Nakuru eight years ago owing to the lake’s rising water levels, never to return. They have less places to reproduce and eat as a result. The pink birds returned to the lake in the year 2020 and are now thriving. Every time you visit the Nakuru National Park, there is a good chance that you will see some breathtakingly gorgeous pink flamingos relaxing on the shores of Lake Nakuru. This is because these birds are present there throughout the day, months, and years.

Where to spot flamingos on a Kenya safari
Flamingoes in Lake Nakuru

The season when millions of birds cover Lake Nakuru in Kenya with a pink blanket has just passed, but we were nevertheless fortunate to see a good number of flamingos eating algae close by the drive-through. Large flocks of flamingos as well as pelicans, who are known to nest close to the banks, are attracted to Lake Nakuru because of its extremely salty environment, which supports an abundance of algae, the main source of food for the birds.

This has also increased the amount of visitors, whose numbers had decreased as flamingo sightings all but disappeared. Lesser flamingo flocks currently eat algae and diatoms from Lake Nakuru. Along with flamingos, more than 400 different species of birds can be seen here.

While tiny flamingos thrive on floating algae in the lake’s alkaline waters, larger flamingos eat animals found in the mud, including crabs. The alkalinity of Lake Nakuru also has an impact on flamingo bird populations because when alkaline levels are high, blue algae blooms on the lake also increase, and flamingos in the lake stay there.

The greatest time to visit Lake Nakuru to see flamingos is in January or February, when it’s dry and hot. There is no guarantee that you will witness a large number of flamingos, though, as most of the birds feed and nest at Lake Nakuru, which, depending on seasonal rain changes, offers the highest quantity of algae.

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