Just a quick update to share the hard work of Phil, Sparky, and co in getting ready for the grand opening of the new flamingo exhibit in a few weeks time. This enclosure will see, eventually, around 500 greater flamingos on display making this one of the largest captive flocks anywhere in an animal collection. In preparation for the installment of the birds into their new environment, nest mounds had to be constructed on the new nesting island. This has meant lots of man-power (boys and girls!) and manual labour in shovelling, pushing and piling heavy clay mud onto the island to be shaped and moulded (in that exacting Slimbridge style) into new flamingo nests. It can be tricky work balancing a wheelbarrow across a narrow metal ramp when fully-laden with soil! Around seven trailer-loads of soil have been used for the nesting site, and work will continue over the next few days to get it ready for the birds’ arrival.
Whilst no breeding will take place this year, as the breeding season for greater flamingos has now passed, the presence of ready-made nests will be a stimulus for the flamingos to consider breeding in future years. A very similar method of flamingo “management” is used by those scientists out in the field to encourage wild flocks to nest in new, or safer, areas. Wild flamingos, flying between feeding and potential breeding areas, will see artificial nest mounds created by conservationists as a sign that it is a good place to raise chicks. If you could imagine the thought process inside the mind of the flamingo is would go something like ”well, if other flamingos have nested there before it must be OK so let’s breed here this year”; and then the birds will take over the nests started by humans and use them as their own.