One greater flamingo chick has hatched at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre this week (28 April).
Centre Manager, Nick Brooks, said: “This is the earliest a chick has hatched at the centre for at least ten years. The younger more inexperienced flamingos nested early this year with the warmer weather but this is the only chick that has successfully hatched; the older breeding pairs are also sitting on eggs at the moment and these are due to hatch at the normal time in late May for our Downy Duckling Week.”
The parents of the chick are 4 and 5 years old, being born at Martin Mere themselves in 2009/10. Nick Brooks added: “This is the first time these younger flamingos have nested and it is great to see the juvenile flamingos becoming adults, securing the next generation of our breeding birds. Our adult flamingos are actually as old as Martin Mere as they came from WWT Slimbridge 40 years ago. The fact that they still continue to breed is credit to our team of aviculturists and the care they show the birds.”
The greater flamingos are one of six species of flamingos found in the world. They are the least vibrant coloured of the six species, being a pale salmon pink.
Flamingos are very social birds which need to be kept together in a large group in order for them to be happy. At Martin Mere there are currently have 57 greater flamingos and they choose the same partners every year. A single egg is laid by each pair and both the male and female take it in turns to incubate. Incubation takes approximately 30 days and all chicks are parent-reared as these social youngsters benefit from being with their mum and dad as well as with each other. In addition, adult flamingos produce a special crop milk to feed their babies on (- pigeons are the only other bird to do this). The fluffy chicks grow very quickly (up to 2cm a day) and they are fully-fledged by the age of 3 months. They are usually grey or white in colouring and it takes approximately 2 to 3 years to obtain full pink plumage.
WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 9.30am to 6pm and parking is free of charge. Situated off the A59, it is signposted from the M61, M58 and M6. The Centre is also accessible via the Southport to Manchester and the Liverpool to Preston line by train from Burscough Rail Stations. Visit the web site http://www.wwt.org.uk/martinmere/ to find out what’s on all year round at Martin Mere and the other eight WWT Wetland Centres.