A curly pelican is seen by his nest in the Karavasta lagoon.
With tourists home, boats docked and factories silenced under a coronavirus lockdown, Albania's pink flamingos and curly pelicans are flourishing in the newfound tranquility of lagoons dotting the country's western coastline.
Beating their pink and black-lined wings, a growing flock of thousands of flamingos have recently been soaring over and splashing in the glistening waters of Narta Lagoon, an important site for migratory birds on the Adriatic coast.
Their numbers have increased by nearly a third up to some 3,000 since January, according to park authorities.
In recent years unchecked urbanisation, a growing tourism footprint and industrial activity have threatened ecosystems in the protected zone surrounded by scrubby hills.
The coronavirus lockdown imposed on March 9, however, has brought a welcome reprieve.
'Time for love'
Conservationists hope the quiet will encourage the graceful birds to take the next step and mate.
Over the past three weeks, couples have been "moving a little further into the lagoon and are now starting courtship rituals," said Hysolokaj.
The author of Albania's first bird guide, Mirjan Topi, said the conditions are perfect for the flamingos to start reproducing in the Balkan state.
The birds typically "travel for a few years in the different regions of the Mediterranean until they reach sexual maturity", he said.
Those frolicking in the lagoon today hail from Africa, Italy, Greece, Spain and France, according to a park survey.
Just under 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the north, officials in Albania's largest lagoon in Divjaka National Park also hope the calm will be a boon to a growing population of Dalmatian pelicans.
The "near threatened" species are known as curly pelicans for the ruffle of feathers on top of their heads.
The population has been increasing in recent years and has now reached its highest number in the last three decades, according to Ardian Koci, the park's director.
The pelicans, plus flamingos, bald eagles and Ibis falcinella are enjoying the peace, gathering on deserted pathways normally teeming with tourists.
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