Thirty years after the Anegada flamingo reintroduction, staff from NPTVI and local volunteers observed 433 flamingos at Flamingo Pond, Anegada during the annual Christmas Bird Count on January 5th 2022. The flock was observed doing their courtship dance and nesting mounds have already been built nearby.
The reintroduction of Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) to Anegada is the most successful species reintroduction in the British Virgin Islands. A captive population of 18 birds were sourced from the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo in 1992 through funding from the Guana Island owners, the Falconwood Corporation. This reintroduction was a vision shared by The National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands (NPTVI), The Conservation Agency, and the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Since then, NPTVI has monitored the population annually to identify and mitigate any potential threats to the flamingos and their habitat, and track the population’s growth.
The flamingos are most commonly seen in the network of salt ponds in the centre of Anegada, but they seek solitude at the eastern ponds of Anegada, especially when they are disturbed. There are also flamingo populations on Guana Island and Necker Island, and sometimes there is movement between these islands and also to Tortola and Beef Island. In September 2020, flamingos nested for the first time at Josiah’s Bay on Tortola, which contains the most diverse bird population on Tortola.
Visitors and residents always enjoy watching the flamingos and this spectacular sight can easily be seen from the lookout platform at Nutmeg Point where there is a telescope. The nest mounds are built from mud and must be tall enough to prevent the eggs from washing away into the surrounding pond.
However, human disturbance is one of the greatest threats to the flamingo populations throughout the Virgin Islands, so visitors should not attempt to cross ponds or use drones to get closer to the birds, as this disturbs them and can lead to them abandoning their nests. Helicopter air tours also disturb the flamingos when they fly too low and too close to ponds.
NPTVI is always looking for new volunteers to join the annual Christmas bird count, and participate in what is known as citizen science, which is a critical way to gather information from all over the Territory in a short space of time. Throughout the year local bird watchers and avid photographers can also share unusual bird observations with NPTVI, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .