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Hundreds of flamingos have returned to Fuente de Piedra lake after the recent rain. Salvador Salas
Flamingos fly back to Fuente de Piedra lake
Environment

Flamingos fly back to Fuente de Piedra lake

The recent rains have brought water back to this inland wetland, a delicate lifeline that has enabled the return of this hypnotic bird

Matías Stuber

Friday, 23 February 2024, 15:35

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The morning is rather chilly. The car thermometer gauge is showing barely three degrees. A fine mist covering the lakeshore creates a backdrop that seems straight out of a documentary.

As your gaze reaches the lake, the contrast with the image from a few months ago, when this same place seemed like a salt desert, is evident. The rains, though scarce, have brought life back to the natural landscape of Fuente de Piedra.

"The rains from last week have helped the 'laguna' recover. For a few days now, the flamingos have been returning," confirms the mayor of Fuente de Piedra, Siro Pachón. There is a sense of relief in his voice. The small municipality, with just over 2,500 inhabitants, had created a true economic web around these animals. Bars and restaurants benefited from the arrival of visitors. The information centre was the starting point for guided tours. But who needs a flamingo information centre if there are no flamingos?

Salvador Salas

Bringing hope

The complete lack of other people and the silence, only punctuated by occasional squawks, is reminiscent of the pandemic. It's no longer seven and the sun has climbed in height, bathing the lake in soft light. The water sparkles in a rosy hue as it reflects the plumage of the flamingos.

When they are small, the young flamingos feed on planktonic algae. As they grow, they submerge their necks in the water to filter small crustaceans through their bills, giving them their characteristic pink colour.

A photo showcasing the extraordinary beauty of this bird.
A photo showcasing the extraordinary beauty of this bird. Salvador Salas

La Laguna de Fuente de Piedra was declared a nature reserve in 1944. The flamingos returning to Fuente de Piedra this year number in the hundreds. They are not just one or two flocks. If there is sufficient water, they will also be able to nest, and later the traditional ringing of the chicks will take place. This process is almost a ritual, attracting ornithologists and curious onlookers from around the world. Last year there wasn't one as the lake succumbed to the drought.

The sun is beginning to get warm and a coat is no longer needed. A group of flamingos rises into the sky to descend again in a more remote part of the wetland. Some of these animals bury their heads in their plumage and go to sleep. Nature once again is providing moments of pure magic in the Fuente de Piedra lake.

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