18 March 2008
The Lesser Flamingo breeding event at Kamfers Dam (Kimberley, South Africa) is progressing well. On 18 March Peter Hohne and I flew over the flamingo island and took a number of high resolution images. I used these images to count the chicks and incubating adults. The final tally was 6310 chicks and 1932 incubating adults and there is therefore a potential total of 8242 chicks. This is probably an underestimate as some chicks were probably not visible behind other chicks and adults. It is remarkable how asynchronous this breeding event is. We now have flying young, as well as a few thousand eggs. The extended breeding event will frustrate Africam, as they are going to have to wait until at least July to install the webcam on the island! The southern African Lesser Flamingo population was estimated by Rob Simmons (in his paper in Conservation Biology) to number c. 60 000 individuals (although the currently estimates are probably higher), so Kamfers Dam has added significantly to the regional population this summer. The annual breeding of Lesser Flamingos at Kamfers Dam will result in a population increase (hopefully reversing the recent negative population trend).
I used a sequence of enlarged aerial images taken from a helicopter to count the chicks and incubating adults. Using Adobe Photoshop I placed a coloured dot on the top of each counted chick or incubating adult. This prevented double counting and ensured that I did not miss any birds. The counting was done using a sheep counter.