!!!Flamingos

by [Sergey Semenov|http://www.airpano.com/Photogallery.php?gallery=3] and
[Stas Sedov|http://rccam.livejournal.com],
members of the [AirPano Team|Geography/About/Consortium/AirPano,_Team] that is a member of the [global-geography Consortium|Geography/About/Consortium]. \\

7 October 2013

with kind permission of [AirPano|http://www.AirPano.com]

I have always imagined Africa as an insanely hot place. Every time
someone would mention this continent, all I could think about was the
heat, wind-borne sand, and lack of water. But I was in for a big
surprise when my group, including Sergey Semenov and our guides, went to
Lake Nakuru in search of seasonal gatherings of flamingos. Areas that we
saw along the road reminded me of Tula region of Russia: green fields
stretching to the horizon and familiar looking potatoes fields! The only
difference was — less asphalt on the roads, and locals that looked a
little bit different.

[{Image src='01_Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria.jpg' caption='Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='601'}]

I must say that we came to Kenya during dry season. I don't know if it
was our bad luck or the weather went wrong, but it rained very hard
every day. Sometimes it drizzled a little, and sometimes it was a
downpour. All local water bodies and lakes were overflowing. That caused
a lot of trouble for people living near Lake Nakuru, because crocodiles
practically swam freely through the streets of local villages.

High water forced flamingos to leave Lake Nakuru and move to Lake
Bogoria. This is where we spent two days taking pictures.

Lake Bogoria is a national park with its own security and rules. On our
first day we met a stern-looking park ranger at the Lake Bogoria
entrance. He examined our helicopter and said that he wouldn't allow us
to fly it close to the birds, unless he saw it in action. "Two
radio-controlled helicopters are already lying on the bottom of this
lake, and yours will be the third one!" that's what he kindly told us
before the first flight.

However, the look on his face changed after the launch. "I see how
you're flying it. You can do what you came here for!" he said and left.
And so we got to work.

There were almost no tourists watching flamingos in the morning. Only
one car with professional photographers from Italy stood next to us.

We made first several flights. I must say that it is not that easy to
scary a flamingo. If you don't make sudden movements or run, and quietly
take pictures from the roof of your car, chances are that a flock of
pink birds will soon surround you, and you will have an opportunity to
take very interesting pictures. Birds don't come too close and keep
their distance, but the distance is very small.

[{Image src='02_Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria.jpg' caption='Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='556'}]

At first we proceeded very carefully. However, after a couple of flights
we realized that the birds weren't afraid of our helicopter, and we
could photograph from a very close range.

Italians and our guides warned us that we should hurry up and finish
everything by noon.

"Why?" we asked.

"The Chinese will come in the afternoon".

"?"

"You'll see once they are here".

[{Image src='03_Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria.jpg' caption='Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='788'}]

And yes, we were not happy with what we saw in the afternoon. Several
buses with tourists from China showed up around 12 o'clock. 15 minutes
later there were no flamingos around us. What happened?

As I mentioned before the birds are calm as long as you don't make
sudden movements and watch them from one spot. Flocks of flamingos are
constantly moving in the lakefront, going in and out of the water. Our
cars were pretty far away from the coastline, which allowed us to
observe the birds and take pictures without disturbing them. Even our
radio-controlled helicopter didn't bother flamingos.

When tourists came out of their buses, they dispersed along the
shoreline trying to photograph with the birds. Frightened flamingos flew
away and a few minutes later all birds in the area were gone. Our guides
told us that it was common in case of visitors from China.

[{Image src='04_xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xxxxxxx, xxxxx.jpg' caption='xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xxxxxxx, xxxxx' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='600'}]

However, when few most enthusiastic Chinese tourists began throwing
stones at the remaining birds so they could be photographed with soaring
flamingos on a background, our guides had to intervene. Unfortunately,
simple warning had no effect, so Evans, our guide, told them that he
would call the park rangers and they would have to deal with the local
police about their behavior in a national park. Only then did the chaos
stop.

After the Chinese tourists left we waited for a few hours, but with no
result. Flamingos that escaped to the center of the lake never came back
that day.

The next morning we continued taking pictures at Lake Bogoria, and in
the evening we went to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Here you can see
our virtual tour with flamingos.

Here are some facts about flamingo at Lake Bogoria.

There are over 40 national parks and reserves with diverse African flora
and fauna in Kenya. The most famous of them is the Lake Nakuru National
Park.

[{Image src='05_Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria.jpg' caption='Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='601'}]

It surrounds Lake Nakuru, which has an area of 188 square kilometers and
depth of less than 3 meters. The park's meadows and forest thickets are
swarming with over 50 species of mammals, including white and black
rhinos. However main attraction of the Lake Nakuru National Park is 450
species of birds. In fact, the only purpose of establishing the nature
preserve in 1960 was to protect these birds.

The park became worldwide famous because of flamingos. These long-legged
birds with thin flexible neck have a unique color, which depends
directly on their diet. Flamingo's natural white-gray feathers turn pink
or even red depending on the amount of carotene they consume with food.

[{Image src='06_Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria.jpg' caption='Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='601'}]

For example, carotene is contained in small red crustaceans. To preserve
their color at a zoo, flamingos are kept on a special diet that includes
carrots, sweet peppers, and crustaceans. Another source of carotene is
blue-green algae called Cyanophyta Spirulina platensis. It can be found
in some African waters. Therefore, despite the fact that flamingos don't
nest in Kenya, they can't resist a nourishing food and come to Lake
Nakuru and other lakes for algae.

The number of flamingos varies during a year depending on the water
level and food availability, but at the peak of the season Lake Nakuru
is covered by about half million of these graceful birds. However, heavy
rainfalls hit the region in summer 2013, resulting in high water level
in Lake Nakuru, which forced flamingos to search for sustenance
elsewhere.

[{Image src='07_Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria.jpg' caption='Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='621'}]

Lake Nakuru is a part of lake system cascading along the east coast of
Africa and through the so-called fault zone from Lebanon to Mozambique.
Lakes are located at different heights, so birds easily found a body of
water not affected by the rain: Lake Bogoria that lies 100 kilometers
north of Lake Nakuru. This is where we shot our spherical panoramas.

A saline, alkaline Lake Bogoria, which also has the status of a National
Park, is smaller than Lake Nakuru and has an area of only 32 square
kilometers. The lake is of geothermal origin with almost two dozen
geysers; there is also a dormant Bogoria Volcano nearby.

[{Image src='08_Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria.jpg' caption='Flamingo, Kenia, Lake Bogoria' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='496'}]

Tens of thousands flamingos come to Lake Bogoria from year to year.
However, this time there were two million of birds due to Lake Nakuru
unavailability.

Please enjoy the incredible view.

\\ \\
[9 Panoramas of Flamingos|Geography/Africa/Kenya/Pictures/Panoramas_of_Flamingo]

[{SET customtitle='Flamingos (AP)'}]