For the second year in a row, an unusual avian visitor made an appearance at the Akrotiri Salt Lake on the island of Cyprus last month.

Το σπάνιο μαυρο φλαμίνγκο βρίσκεται για δεύτερη συνεχόμενη χρονιά στην Αλυκή Ακρωτηρίου/The black flamingo is back again

Posted by Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre on Monday, January 11, 2016

This same black flamingo grabbed headlines across the globe in April 2015, when it was spotted wading in the lake's shallow waters among its ordinary pink-and-white flockmates.   

The bird's black plumage is the result of melanism, a genetic condition that causes an abnormal amount of dark melanin pigmentation.

And while there are entire Flickr albums dedicated to documenting melanistic (and leucistic) birds of all shapes and sizes, it's very possible that this is the only dark-coloured representative to be observed in the flamingo family so far.

Its rarity has made the Akrotiri flamingo a bit of a local celebrity, and its return this year sparked plenty of excitement among local wildlife officials and visitors, who, er, flocked to the lake hoping to catch a glimpse.

“At the last count, we had 6,500 flamingos in Akrotiri and they usually stay between November and April, but there is no way of telling how long the black flamingo will stay for,” Pantelis Charilaou, a local environmental officer, told The Cyprus Weekly.

Akrotiri Salt Lake system is among the Mediterranean's most important wetlands, and its shallow, shrimp-packed waters are an annual stopover for thousands of migratory birds – not only its famed greater flamingos, but also cranes, waders and birds of prey.

The fact that the area keeps attracting large numbers of birds is a win for the environmental team at the Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre, who've been working hard to ensure it remains a safe habitat for wildlife.

The lake is protected under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands, so watching this rare flamingo visitor enjoying the lake's healthy ecosystem is the perfect way to mark World Wetlands Day.

Here's footage of its 2015 stopover courtesy of local conservationist George Konstantinou:


Top header image: Stephen_G, Flickr