Tag Archives: Birdwatching

Ten of the best natural parks to observe birds and wildlife in Spain

Spain has to rate as one of the best countries in in Europe for bird and wildlife watching. A destination with over 15 million hectares of protected areas and natural parks plus Spain is a strategic location on the avian migratory routes between Europe to Africa

Spain hosts huge forests and rocky mountain peaks where large birds of prey soar freely. There are wetlands where waterfowl find their home. Hundreds of nature parks and nature reserves teeming with birds and other wildlife.

If you need a bucket list for Spain then here is my top 10 for bird and wildlife watching in Spain. I have visited them all and would gladly return many times to all of them!

Just click the name of the park to find out much more information.

Cabañeros National Park, Ciudad Real (Castilla la Mancha)

The Cabañeros National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional de Cabañeros) is a NATIONAL park and is located within the two provinces of Ciudad Real andToledo
The Cabañeros National Park (in Spanish: Parque Nacional de Cabañeros) is a NATIONAL park and is located within the two provinces of Ciudad Real andToledo

Cabañeros is considered a Special Protection Area for Birds and is protected within the framework of the Natura 2000 Network. Famous for black vulture, griffon vulture, Iberian imperial eagle, Bonnelli’s eagle and black stork. With summer residents this park teems with birdlife.


Monfragüe National Park, Cáceres (Extremadura)

The area of Monfragüe National Park is noted for its importance as a breeding area for a selection of rare and protected birds,
The area of Monfragüe National Park is noted for its importance as a breeding area for a selection of rare and protected birds,

Monfragüe is, without a doubt, one of the best places in Spain for bird watching and especially for birds of prey. Every year this area also hosts the International Ornithological Tourism Fair, which attracts bird lovers from all over the world. Top of the list here is black stork, griffon vulture, imperial eagle, eagle owl, Egyptian vulture and short-toed eagle.


Atlantic Islands National Park (Galicia)

The Islas Atlánticas National Park are known in English as the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.
The Islas Atlánticas National Park are known in English as the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.

A Special Protection Area for birds. And, although there are many species, this national park can boast of being home to the largest colonies of shag and yellow-legged gull in the entire country. The park has strategically located hides.


Doñana National Park, Huelva and Seville (Andalucia)

The Doñana National and Natural Parks occupy the northern area of the Guadalquivir river where it meets the Atlantic Ocean
The Doñana National and Natural Parks occupy the northern area of the Guadalquivir river where it meets the Atlantic Ocean

The Doñana National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are more than 300 species listed. Some are sedentary and others migratory so the time of year greatly influences what species you will see. In spring there are organized visits and every year the International Bird Fair of Doñana is held. The ecosystems are varied between dunes and marshes and it is home to black storks, flamingos, purple herons, coots, bee-eaters and a seemingly endless number of different birds.


The Gallocanta Lagoon, Zaragoza and Teruel (Aragon)

Gallocanta laguna in Aragon, Spain
De Secretaria – http://www.xiloca.com/xilocapedia/index.php/Imagen:Atardecer_6_Gallocanta.jpg, CC BY 3.0 es, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19561884

The Gallocanta Lagoon is around 1,000 meters above sea level and is one of the most important saline lakes in Western Europe. This lake is on the migratory route for the common crane. October / November and February / March are the best times to visit this area. Guided tours of the nature reserve are also organized from the Gallocanta Lagoon Interpretation Center.


Hoces del Duratón Natural Park, Segovia (Castille y Leon)

Hoces del Rio Duratón Natural Park Parque Natural de las Hoces del Río Duratón is a natural park close to the town of Sepúlveda in the province of Segovia
Hoces del Rio Duratón Natural Park Parque Natural de las Hoces del Río Duratón is a natural park close to the town of Sepúlveda in the province of Segovia

The gorges of the Duratón river are home to one of the largest population of griffon vultures in Europe. Canoe trips here are a great way to get a bit closer to the wildlife of the area.


Ebro Delta Natural Park, Tarragona (Catalonia)

The Parque natural del Delta del Ebro holds a great importance internationally as more than 300 species of birds
The Parque natural del Delta del Ebro holds a great importance internationally as more than 300 species of birds

An absolute biological jewel and the most important wetland in Catalonia. Famous for its large and permanent colony of flamingos plus an excellent number of aquatic birds totaling more than 325 species


Marismas de Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Natural Park (Cantabria)

Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park
Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

This Cantabrian natural park is considered one of the places with a huge biological diversity containing around 120 different species including grebes, cormorants, herons, loons, terns, ospreys, coots and white storks.


Lagunas de Villafáfila Nature Reserve, Zamora (Castille y Leon)

Reserva Natural de Lagunas de Villafáfila
Reserva Natural de Lagunas de Villafáfila

The best time to visit the Villafáfila Lagoons is in winter or spring. This is an area of ​​special protection for birds that make their home in the wetlands amongst the arable farmland. There are several viewpoints and hides. Grebe, white stork an cranes can be seen but the area is famous for the geese that use the area as a rest stop during their winter migration.


L’Albufera Natural Park (Valencia)

Albufera natural park - Valencia
Albufera natural park – Valencia

L’Albufera holds a great variety of aquatic birds. Its shores are protected for nesting and shelter for birds and the best months to find them are May, June, July, November, December and January. Look out for European rail, Purple galinule, common tern and black-footed tern.


Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

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Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

  • Region: Castille Y leon
  • Province: Zamora
  • 1972 – Controlled hunting area (2,854 hectares).
  • 1986 – National Game Reserve (32,549 hectares).
  • 1996 – Regional hunting reserve (32,549 hectares).
  • 2006 – Nature Reserve (32,541 hectares).
  • 1987 – ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds) – 32,549 hectares.
  • 1989 – RAMSAR Wetland (Protection and international importance of the lagoon complex) – 2,854 hectares.
  • 1992 – SCI (Place of Community Interest) – 4,219 hectares

Villages in the area of Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

Cañizo, Cerecinos de Campos, Manganeses de la Lampreana, Revellinos, San Agustín del Pozo, San Martín de Valderaduey, Tapioles, Villafáfila (Includes the district of Otero de Sariegos, which is entirely inside the Natural Reserve), Villalba de la Lampreana, Villárdiga and Villarrín de Campos.

Hotels in the area of the Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

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Points of interest

Depending on the season of the year, different birds can be observed But many people visit this area just for views of the Great bustard (Otis otis)

Autumn:

  • September is a month in which you can see large concentrations of mallard and an abundance of grey herons from the breeding colonies.
  • October is the time of passage for migratory birds such as common sandpipers and other waders.
  • November is the month with the highest concentration of cranes in the reserve and the arrival of the first common geese of the season also important flocks of common sandpipers.

Winter:

  • In December, the common goose and the frieze duck abound, being in general a good month to observe rare ducks such as the white-faced goose and the grey-faced geese.
  • In January there are the highest concentrations of goose and European wigeon
  • In February the geese begin their journey to the Nordic countries. In their place the stork start to arrive from their southern wintering grounds.

Spring:

  • March is the beginning of the arrival of the lesser kestrels, spooonbil and it is the time of spring passage for a large number of waders such as sandpipers and plovers etc. This is also the beginning of the mating season for bustards.
  • In April the bustard is still in breeding season and large concentrations of male combatants emerge in their full breeding plumage.
  • May is the breeding season of the lesser kestrels, especially the colony at the church of Otero de Sariegos. Storks and avocets are also in full breeding mode.

Summer:

  • June is the month of the quail song in the Reserve, cattle egrets abound and the first flights of young storks.
  • The heat of July makes the aquatic fauna concentrate in the few remaining wetlands. This month also gives best observations of Montagu’s harrier. The first pre-migratory concentrations of stork are beginning to appear as well.
  • In August, the post-nuptial passage of sandpipers and other waders begins.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de las Lagunas de Villafáfila ‘El Palomar’

Ctra. Villalpando, Km. 1,5. 49136. Villafáfila. Zamora

  • On the N-630 road from Zamora towards Benavente. After the town of Granja de Moreruela, take a detour to the right onto the ZA-701 road, towards La Estación de la Tabla.
  • On the N-VI highway from Tordesillas towards Benavente leave the highway at Villalpando and at the exit of this town take a detour to the left towards Tapioles and Villafáfila.

This is an excellent information centre for the Lagunas de Villafáfila. There are audiovisual exhibitions, walkways, observation points etc and the place is staffed by very knowledgable guides. Well worth a visit!

Hours:
Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays
10:30 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 19:00

Entrance price is 2 euros for adults and 1.50 for children (Children under free)

Website (only in Spanish)
https://villafafila.com/

On this page you will find the bird species list for the Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila.
https://villafafila.com/Fauna/default.asp


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/

Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria.
  • Province: Cantabria.
  • Declared a Natural Park:
  • Park surface area: 6,500 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park is an estuary in Cantabria, protected as a natural park. It is one of the wetlands of most ecological value in the north of Spain. It is used as a winter refuge and migratory passage by many species of birds.

The marshes are formed by the Asón River and the park occupies over 6,500 hectares distributed among the municipalities of Argoños, Bárcena de Cicero, Colindres, Escalante, Laredo, Limpias, Noja, Santoña and Voto.

The Asón estuary is also an important area for commercial fish breeding with sea ​​bass, red mullet, sea bream, sole and eel and atlantic salmon. This is also an important area for shellfish and the development of the canning industry for anchovies and sardines. Fish and fishing and defines the economic activity of this area.

Hotels in the area of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

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Legal action against Spain from the EU about Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

In 1987 the Spanish Society of Ornithology (now SEO / BirdLife) and ARCA (the Association for the Defense of Natural Resources of Cantabria) presented a complaint to the Commission of the European Union citing the terrible situation and the danger suffered by the Santoña marshes such as desiccation of areas of the marsh, construction of the Santoña-Argoños section of the Ca-141 road, ilegal rubbish dumping and residual contaminated water from towns and villages in the area. All this of course a huge risk to both the annual stay of thousands of migratory birds and residential wildlife.

Spain declared the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel as a Natural Park in 1992. However, in 1993, the European Court condemned Spain for breach of its obligations to protect wildlife habitats under the EEC Treaty. This was the first ever environmental condemnation of the European court against Spain.

Spains basic defence was (and I quote) ” The Spanish Government takes the view that the ecological requirements laid down in that provision must be subordinate to other interests, such as social and economic interests, or must at the very least be balanced against them. ” The court rejected this argument completely.

The court ruling

Decision on costs: Under Article 69(2) of the Rules of Procedure, the unsuccessful party is to be ordered to pay the costs. Since the Kingdom of Spain has failed in all essential respects, it must be ordered to pay the costs.

On those grounds,THE COURT

Declares that, by not classifying the Santoña marshes as a special protection area and by not taking appropriate steps to avoid pollution or deterioration of habitats in that area, contrary to the provisions of Article 4 of Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty;

Orders the Kingdom of Spain to pay the costs.

I have looked but can’t find how much Spain had to pay or evn if they did? Anyone?

You can read the entire very interesting legal document here. (actually it is very readable and not too full of confusing legal quotes.)
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A61990CJ0355

Fauna:

The birdlife in the area is undoubtedly the park’s greatest wealth. More than 130 different species can be observed and this is an important point for migrating or wintering grounds for many species of waterfowl. Waders such as Dunlin, Whimbrel, Grey plover, Bar-tailed godwit and gulls. Also European wigeon, Curlew, Common egrets, oystercatcher, sandpiper, Godwit, Redshank, Black – headed gulls and Red necked grebe. .

It is also an important migratory resting place for the common spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) which migrates from its breeding colonies in Holland flying over the coasts of France in order to reach the Santoña Marshes where they rest for a few days before continuing their journey to their wintering grounds in Africa. SEO/Birdlife estimates that a third of the European population of this species passes through Santoña every year

Two other species that are very rare wintering in the Iberian Peninsula, and that are frequent visitors to the Santoña marshes, are the Eider duck (Somateria mollissima), a large sea duck, and the Snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) that inhabits the mountains of northern Europe.

The most abundant mammals are found in the woodlands of holm oaks and meadows. More than thirty species have been detected such as wildcat, boar, roe deer, red deer, otter, fox, badger, weasel, rabbit etc

Information/Visitors Centers

The Visitor Center of the Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park, is located on the ground floor of the “Mirador de las Marismas” a building located in the port of Santoña . The unique glass façade allows you to observe, from the inside, a wide panoramic view of the marsh landscape.

Inside there is also and excellent exhibition showing history, culture, wildlife etc of the area.

Opening hours

  • January to March from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • April to June: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • October: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • November and December: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Closed on 01/01, 06/01, 01/11, 24/12 and 31/12


Noja Bird Mill. Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park

Address: Calle Helgueras, 39180 Noja

The Molino de las Aves de Noja is located in the old tidal mill of the Marisma Victoria inside the Natural Park of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria and Joyel. Apart from its exceptional location for birdwatching on the marismas there are also cameras located in nest boxes and a feeder in order to observe the daily behavior birds and children are actively encouraged to get involved in observing wildlife.

There are also self-guided ornithological itineraries taking you through the four natural environments of Noja : the dunes, the marsh, the mountain and the countryside.

Open from June 21 to September 1
From 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 20.00 every day of the week.

Look out for signs for these top places for birdwatching.

  • Puerto pesquero, marisma de Bengoa and La Arenilla in Santoña.
  • Molino de Victoria in Noja
  • Paseo del Ribero Ancillo, Argoños Paseo marítimo y parque de Tinaco en Colindres.
  • El Playón de Cicero in Bárcena de Cicero.
  • Convento de Montehano Monte de Montehano in Escalante.

The official website for the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park (In Spanish but has a google translate plugin at the top right of the homepage.)
https://www.turismodecantabria.com/disfrutala/parques-naturales/1-parque-natural-de-las-marismas-de-santona-victoria-y-joyel


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/

Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

  • Region: Catalunya.
  • Province: Tarragona.
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1983.
  • Park surface area: Land: 8.445 hectares (including 2,578 hectares of nature reserves) – Marine: 564 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance 1993.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Parque natural del Delta del Ebro holds a great importance internationally as more than 300 species of birds (of the 700 that exist in Europe) have been observed at the Delta. This includes resident, pre and post-nuptial migration as well as wintering flocks. It is the second largest wetland in the western Mediterranean. (The first being the Camargue in France.)

This river outlet has been shaped over centuries by sea storms and river flooding and around 45 percent of the delta is less than 50cm above sea level. It is consantly being created and reshaped by sediment build up from river flooding and sand deposit/erosion from wave action. There are two large, shallow coastal lagoons partially enclosed by long sand spits, El Fangar and Els Alfacs. These shallow bays, salt marshes, fresh water springs, reed beds, dunes, sand bars and islands are habitats that are further protected as Reserves within the park area.

Man has adapted most of the delta area by planting rice fields fed by a network of irrigation canals. These, along with the salt pans, add to the natural ecosystems for the fauna when cared for correctly. Surrounded by an area of human exploitation the diverse wealth of the delta continues through the protection of the park status.

Find a a hotel close to the Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

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The Park can be subdivided into nine basic zones of interest.

  • Llacuna de les Olles: This is the smallest lagoon of the delta and an interesting area between the beach and lagoon.
  • La Punta del Fangar: This is an area with a sand surface of around 410 hecyares which can be visited by car, bike or by foot.
  • Llacuna del Canal Vell: With an extension of 235 hectares.
  • Desembocadura: The zone of the opening of the Ebro includes the protected natural areas of the Garxal (280 hectares), illa of Sant Antoni (170 hectares) and illa of Buddha .
  • Riu i Platja de Migjorn: The Migjorn river is an old opening of the Ebro that surrounds l’Illa by Buddha (the island of Buddha). The area is an accessible zone by car from San Jauma (town nearby)
  • Llacuna de la Tancada: Over 300 hectares and visiting this area by car or bicycle is recommendable. Flamingo’s and many different species of ducks are frequently seen in this lagoon.
  • Punta de la Banya: The atmosphere in this area is very interesting. A great amount of birds stay here during the winter. The access is restricted with exception of the days between the 15 of July and the 15 of September, without leaving the beach the area can be entered by car.
  • Llacuna de l’Encanyissada: With an extension of 1192 hestares this is the greatest lagoon of the Delta.
  • Ullals de Baltasar: This is the only fresh water lagoon of the entire delta. It is not a well-known zone but is well worth a visit.

Flora

Sandy areas and shore lines are dominated by plants that have adapted to high salinity, all of which aid in fixing the dunes. The most common species to be found here are clump forming Marram grass (Ammophila arenaria subsp. arundinacea), Sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias), Sand couch grass (Elymus farctus subsp. farctus), Yellow-flowered rest harrow (Ononis natrix), Fleshy-leaf  thymelaea (Thymelaea hirsuta), huge pampas like Silk grass (Erianthus ravennae) and the summer flowering white Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum).

Thick reed-beds are seen where the water table is high and the area is frequently inundated. The most characteristic plants include Common reed (Phragmites australis), the taller Phragmites australis subsp. chrysanthus and pink flowering Sea Bindweed (Calystegia soldanella).

Two plants that grow here which have been used for traditional weaving crafts are Great fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus) and Bulrush (Typha sp).

Along the river banks, where there is less salt, a tree lined corridor has formed consisting of White poplar (Populus alba), White willow (Salix alba), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Ash (Fraxinus sp.), Field elm (Ulmus minor), and climbers such as honeysuckle (Lonicera biflora).

Approaching the sea this woodland is replaced by Oleander (Nerium oleander) and Tamarisk species.

In the “ullals”, freshwater ponds fed by springs are White water lily (Nymphaea alba), Greater pond sedge (Carex riparia), Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea), Galingale (Cyperus longus), Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium), Parsley Water-dropwort (Oenanthe lachenalii) and carpets of introduced Water fern (Azolla caroliniana).

Fauna

The list of birds within the park is extensive, however those that are most famed are the Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii), a rare bird which has its largest breeding colonies here as a summer visitor along with Squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), Purple heron (Ardea purpurea) and Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus).

Residents include Great white egret (Ardea alba), Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus rubber), Red-knobbed coot (Fulica cristata) and Purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio).
Some wintering species are Booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Richard’s pipit (Anthus richardi), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) and Black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis).

Passage migrants include Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus), Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) and Roller (Coracias garrulus).

Reptiles and amphibians include many Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) and Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus).

Numbers of Stripeless tree frogs (Hyla meridionalis) have seriously diminished as have the Iberian green frog (Rana perezi) and the Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus). Toads include the common toad (Bufo bufo) and the Western spade-foot (Pelobates cultripes).

Amongst the lizards are Spanish psammodromus (Podarcis hispanica) which are more frequently seen than the Spiny-footed lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus) and the Spanish Sand Racer (Psammodromus algirus). Moorish and Turkish geckos (Tarentola mauritanica and Hemidactylus turcicus) can be seen around buildings.

Culture Parque natural del Delta del Ebro

Three themes: “Archaeology: from Prehistory to the Middle Ages”; “The Ebro, Waterway”; and “The Ebro Delta” can be seen at Montsià Museum in the town of Amposta. (Obligatory visit and very interesting!)

Information/Visitors Centers

Many of the towns and villages in the area have their own municipal information centres and museums. (The Montsià Museum in Amposta is particularily interesting).

However, the obligatory place to find out how to get the best out of a visit to the Parque natural del Delta del Ebro is the Casa de Fusta.

Natural Park Information Point – Casa de Fusta – (Partida L’Encanyissada, s/n – Poble Nou del Delta, Amposta)

The “Casa de Fusta” (Wooden House) is one of the most emblematic buildings of the Ebro Delta. It was built in the 1920’s by a group of hunters who settled in the delta attracted by the quantity and variety of aquatic hunting opportunities (ducks!) . Now it houses the Ebro Delta Interpretation Centre and the ornithological museum.

Also visit these information points

  • Poble Nou de la Delta (Viewing point and cycle lane).
  • Oficina Municipal de Turismo – Plaça González Isla, L’Ampola.
  • Patronato Municipal de Turismo – Sant Joan 55, L’Ametlla de mar.

The official Amposta tourism website is here.
https://www.turismeamposta.cat/en/


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/

L’Albufera de València

  • Region: Valencia.
  • Province: Valencia.
  • Declared a Ramsar wetland: 1989.
  • Protected surface area: 3,114 hectares.

Points of interest

Beaches, dunes, forest, rice fields, the lagoon… these Mediterranean eco-systems are amazing biodiversity hotspots. L’Albufera de València Nature Park and lagoon is located 11 kilometres south of Valencia.

In1990 L’Albufera de València Nature Reserve was listed as a Ramsar site in the list of wetlands of international importance for birds and since 1991 the Parc Natural de l’Albufera de València has also been included in the Special Protection Areas (Zepa in Spanish).

Since Roman and Muslim times the area has an important network of ditches and canals for irrigation. One of the most important is the Acequia Real del Júcar , which is the irrigation canal that provides water to most of the orchards and rice fields located in the surroundings of the Albufera.

Find a hotel in the area around L’Albufera de València natural park

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Environmental issues

Its amazing that this area so close to the city of Valencia has open fields and long beaches, tours of the forest, cycling routes and boat trips. However, it is not without its environmental issues.

L’Albufera is in urgent need of a new inflow of quality water in order to regain the clarity and transparency it once had.

At present, city and industrial water treatment systems (treatment plants, sewers) are being improved in order to prevent poor quality water from reaching l’Albufera.

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw urban clusters and industrial parks built nearby. They dumped (and in some cases still do) their wastewater directly into the lake. In addition, there was an increase in the use of pesticides and weedkillers in agriculture in the area. All of this meant that, in just a few years, l’Albufera went from having clear water with a wide range of plants and animals, to having murky green water (due to the proliferation of phytoplankton) from which aquatic plants and many animal species disappeared.

We will have to see what the future holds for these smaller “protected” areas close to highly populated areas but in many cases the outlook is not positive.

Flora:

More than 800 different species of plants can be found in the natural park. They can be separated by their habitat: coastal dunes, salt marshes, scrub/mediterranean forest and marshland.

On the coastal dunes (closer to the sea), the mobile dunes have dune grass or sea ​​bell and on fixed dunes lentiscus is predominant.

In the marshes salts accumulate, so the plants that live here are adapted to high concentrations of salt, hence the name of salt marshes. They are usually succulents, such as salt grass.

Scrubland and the Mediterranean forest is made up of arboreal and shrub species such as Aleppo pine, lentiscus, juniper and kermes oak. Also myrtle, thyme, gorse, rosemary, European fan palm .

Amongst the marshes there is an abundance of reeds creating an excellent habitat for bird and other wildlife

Fauna:

The lake has a huge diversity of animals in its environment. Although some fish species can be highlighted such as the fartet and the samarugo (both species of fish in danger of extinction) and the recent appearance of the slug fish Blennius fluviatilis. Eel, mullet and sea ​​bass also still have economical importance.

This park is known for the extraordinary wealth of birdlife. Over 10,000 Red-crested pochard, 20 000 Northern shoveler have been counted. The heron colonies are also noteworthy with cattle egret, Squacco heron all easily visible as well as species such as common tern, black-footed tern, common stilt and grey teal

Culture and economy

The most important human use of the lagoon has traditionally been fishing. Rice growing is important and has great economic and environmental importance because plant and animal species that have disappeared from the lagoon itself live in the rice fields (where the water of the lagoon is purified). These rice paddies also provide food and shelter for many birds.

Walking in the area

There are a few short footpaths in the area that are well worth exploring. They range from 30 minutes to about an hour and a half.

  • Botanical – The walk runs around the area known as Pla de Na Sanxa (Sancha’s clearing), which is located to the south of the Gola de El Pujol (El Pujol Canal). The route goes through the inland dune system, an area of stable dunes populated by dense scrub and pine.
  • Senses – The route starts out from the Camí Vell (Old Devesa Road) and enters along the Tallafoc de la Rambla (Rambla firebreak), heading south. It then turns towards the scrubland and the stable inland dunes. Along this walk you will discover Nature using the five senses.
  • Historical el Saler – This route runs along the El Saler firebreak (Tallafoc de El Saler) from the village to the Muntanyar de la Mona.
  • The beach – The route follows the “Fco. Lozano” beach promenade which crosses the ecosystem of the fore dunes of the El Saler beach longitudinally.
  • Landscape – The route runs along the old Camí Vell de la Devesa (Old Devesa Road), which linked the city of Valencia with the village of El Perellonet. During the walk we can see the main dune slacks of the northern zone; the Quarter, El Saler, Rambla, Redona and Llarga dune slacks.

You can find detailed descriptions of the walks here.
http://albufera.valencia.es/en/vis%C3%ADtala/rutas

Information/Visitors Centers

El Racó de l’ola (Address: Carrer de Vicent Baldoví, 46012 València.)
website: http://www.parquesnaturales.gva.es/es/web/pn-l-albufera (Not a lot of English though you can download a map of the area)

Information Center with good information on the local wildlife and habitat, history etc.

  • Picnic area
  • Free parking
  • Lagoon of around 5 hecatres with hides.
  • A tower lookout with 360 degree views of the area.
  • Well laid out footpaths showing the various habitats such as dunes, marshes and lagoons etc.

Openinghours: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The center is closed: January 1 and 6, December 24, 25 and 31.

The official website for L’Albufera de València can be found here
http://albufera.valencia.es/en


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