Larnaca welcomes 2016 with flocks of pink flamingos
Larnaca woke up to a most beautiful sight on the first day of the New Year as some 7,000 to 10,000 of pink flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) flocked to the Larnaca Salt Lake, having fled northern countries which were hit with a wave of heavy winter weather in the past few days.
Larnaca Salt Lake is one of the most important wetlands in Cyprus and it has been declared a Ramsar and a Natura 2000 site. It lies west of Larnaca and consists of a network of four salt lakes, covering a surface area of 2.2 square kilometres – a stone throw from Larnaca International Airport. It is also an area of amazing natural beauty, which has been the natural habitat of sea life for more than 3 million years. In the past, the salt used to be collected on donkeys and stacked up for export but this activity was abandoned in the mid ‘80s.
Besides its picturesque beauty, the lake is the haunt of 85 species of water-birds with estimated populations between 20,000–38,000. It is one of the important migratory passages through Cyprus. Among them are 2,000–12,000 flamingoes (Phoenicopterus ruber) which spend the winter months there feeding off populations of the brine shrimp Artemia salina.
The Larnaca Salt Lake complex was declared as a protected area by a decision of the Council of Ministers in 1997. Recent evidence suggests that contrary to previous belief the greater flamingo, (Phoenicopterus rubber) not only stops over but also breeds on this wetland.