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Welcome to Flamingo City

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Each year the lakes of Kenya play host to one of the world’s largest populations of flamingos. For a short period the area around a group of lakes is awash with pink as millions of lesser flamingos fly in to breed and one of the world's most spectacular displays takes place.

There is safety in numbers, of course. It ensure the survival of the many. So each year Flamingo City forms, crowded, noisy and sometimes tempers can flare.  Yet why do these remarkable birds flock here in such huge numbers?

Some of these lakes, Lake Bogoria in particular, have formed along the Rift Valley. The lakes, among them Nakuru and Elementeita do not have significant drainage in to rivers. This means that the forces of evaporation are concentrated on them and this causes the water to become brackish and alkaline.

This has, of course, an adverse effect on aquatic life and you may then be wondering what on earth the flamingos eat. The answer is algae, the growth of which is encouraged by the shallow depth of the water and the powerful sunlight beaming down upon it.

The lesser flamingo loves to eat this blue-green algae and it is virtually alone in its taste for this rich harvest. That means that, without competition, they arrive in huge numbers. Some are predated by hyenas but Lake Bogoria can be temporary home to over one hundred thousand of them.

Volcanic geysers and fumaroles spit out sulfurous gases into the air which gives the place an other worldly feel. Once can hardly imagine life scraping by here, let alone thriving. Yet only a small distance away life defies all obstacles and flourishes in a mass of pink exuberance!


Image Credit
First picture - Image Credit Flickr User Rainbirder

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