. . . . . whereas the chief difficulty I found at first was finding them in the first place!  Perhaps it is because of Alice, and also Lewis Carroll why I find flamingos so amazing or perhaps it is simply because they are such a wonderful bird to observe.

Algarve Flamingos

On our very first visit to eastern Algarve I was desperate to track down the flamingos, we saw them flying overhead a couple of times but the most I got to see on the ground was one.

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Fortunately since that first trip we have found them again and again in large numbers, and the best thing is that we have been able to see them just after breakfast, before and after lunch and in our evening strolls as they have been wading and settling down for the night just metres from Olhão markets.

Flamingos in the Olhao saltpans

Olhao Flamingos at SunsetIt is the Greater Flamingo you see in Portugal; the largest of the species averaging over a metre tall and weighing up to 4kg.  Their amazing colour is due to their food – carotenoids in the tiny shrimps and algae they eat. They eat with their heads upside down, and tend to wade as they do so.  However we have also seen them swimming and eating, and you suddenly see bottoms and legs in the air.  And apparently that is not their knee that we see bending backwards but their ankle!  They live around 30years in the wild, whilst in captivity it is usually around 60years.

Flamingos in Olhao in the salt pans

And if you were wondering about Alice, then let’s hear more from Lewis Carroll –

“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo: she succeeded in getting its body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, with its legs hanging down, but generally, just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its head, it would twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a puzzled expression that she could not help bursting out laughing: and when she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it was very provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself, and was in the act of crawling away: besides all this, there was generally a ridge or furrow in the way wherever she wanted to send the hedgehog to, and, as the doubled-up soldiers were always getting up and walking off to other parts of the ground, Alice soon came to the conclusion that it was a very difficult game indeed.”