We expats have a lot in common with these fairy-tale-like birds, for like them, we haven’t originated here in the south of Spain but have felt drawn to the area due to its marvellous climate, the quality of its air and its beauty.
Flamingos are amongst the most interesting and attractive animals in the world. Their radiant exotic colour and their extraordinary long necks and legs captivate our attention. The feathers range in colour from a creamy orange to a crimson red. Their name stems from the colour, as it originates from the Latin word ‘flama’ which means fire.
The common flamingo (phoenicopterus roseus) is a tall, slender and elegant-looking bird, measuring between 110-150 cm and weighing between 2-4 kg.
They are highly sociable creatures that live in colonies of 50 to up to 20.000 flamingos. Their natural habitat is that of plains, salt lakes and lagoons in a warm to hot climate near the coast or inland.
Places where we can find flamingos in Spain:
- Fuente de Piedra Lagoon (Málaga)
This is the largest lagoon in Andalucía (1.400 hectares) and is also the national natural reserve with the largest reproducing colony of flamingos and is declared as Special Protection Area for Birds (SPAB)
- Doñana National Park (Andalusia)
Doñana is a natural reserve situated in the provinces of Huelva and Sevilla. It covers 543 km2 of which 135 km2 are a protected area. There is an abundance of flamingos, as well as many other species of birds from Africa, such as storks, herons and swallows, which go there in search of food and a mild climate.
- Santa Pola and El Hondo Salt Lakes
The Santa Pola Salt Lakes and the El Hondo reservoirs form an important coastal wetland. They make up a Natural Park of Valencia, and are declared as a Special Protection Area for Birds and as a Wetland of International Importance.A visit to the local salt museum (Museo de la Sal) is highly recommended.
Some flamingos, moorhens, teals, and many other species of birds can be spotted in the nearby ponds.The flamingo colony is very large here. In winter, however, numbers may go down to around a thousand birds.
- The Ebro Delta (Tarragona)
The Ebro Delta is a totally unique nature reserve in Spain. This natural park is over 320 km2 in size, making it the largest wetland in Catalonia and in the Western Mediterranean region. It is of vital importance to the ecological balance of this area, rich in an exceptional array of flora and fauna, including rice fields. Around 95 different species of birds live here fulltime, and numerous other migratory birds and waterfowl use this area as a stopover point. The flamingos are mainly to be found in the Tancada Lagoon (la Laguna de la Tancada).
- Salt Marsh and Sandbanks of San Pedro del Pinatar
This stunning nature reserve lies in the coastal area of the region of Murcia on the Mar Menor. The largest number of flamingos can be seen around the end of the month of July in this area.This park offers 8 km of ongoing beaches. There is a “Salt Lakes” Visitors’ Centre (Centro de Visitantes “Las Salinas”) where you can obtain an information leaflet indicating paths and observatories.You could also combine this visit to see the flamingos with a healthy and fun mud bath in the Playa de La Mota! So if you’re a keen birdwatcher, now is still the perfect time of the year to enjoy the sight of vast colonies of flamingos and many other rare birds nearby!