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Regis Eye On Nature

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Flamingos are present in several lakes in Tanzania (Lake Natron), Kenya (Nakuru, Bogoria), Botswana (the Pan's) and Namibia (whale bay), but their presence is totally dependent on water. The number of flamingos varies from year to year depending on water levels and food availability, but at the peak of the season, Lake Natron and Lake Bogoria are populated with up to a million and more of these graceful creatures.

These long-legged birds with their thin flexible necks have a unique color that directly depends on their diet. The natural white-grey feathers of flamingos turn pink to red, depending on the amount of carotenes they consume with the food. At Lake Natron I sometimes saw huge populations (hundreds of thousands) of flamingos, but this immense lake is so difficult to reach and the birds often forage and breed for miles from the edge of the lake, far away from any keen wildlife photographer and their camera.

After several unsuccessful attempts at Lake Natron in Tanzania, I made several visits to Lake Bogoria in Kenya, each time during the seasonal migration of flamingos when the nutrient-rich waters provide an abundance of blue/red algae, the favorite food of the lesser and greater flamingos. Photographing flamingos seems easy, but it is not.

The birds remain calm as long as you don't make sudden movements and you watch them from one place. The key question was, how do I get all the birds in the picture while they are doing something interesting when you take the picture? This takes patience and sometimes you lie for days in the scorching heat to get the perfect picture.

Some stand with their beaks in the shallows to filter plankton, while others look the wrong way, and usually several beaks are in the water while others stand upright. Depth of field is a problem and you have to be careful not to overexpose these beautiful pink and white birds. Despite these challenges, few images beat the aura of the beautiful and graceful flamingos. Image taken from a ground position.

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