One of the possibly less known birdwatching sites in Andalusia, is located in one of the most stunning landscapes that nature has endowed the region. Located in the province of Almeria, is the natural park of Cabo de Gata, a space whose volcanic origin makes us appear at some moments on another planet and which has numerous ecosystems between sea and land.
The Cabo de Gata has numerous virgin beaches in many occasions by outcrop of volcanic phenomena and giving shape to a desert landscape. This landscape even extends to the depths where we can find marine ecosystems still protected and not affected by the hand of the human being where to enjoy scuba diving.
However, not many know a sanctuary for birds located in this area, specifically in the Poniente area of the park, we refer naturally to the Salinas de Cabo de Gata.
The salt flats of Cabo de Gata with an area of 400 hectares, is located parallel to the coastline, and with a separation of the sea from the sea of between 150 and 500 meters and a total length of up to about 5 kilometers
The configuration of the ecosystem is a lagoon converted into saline and used since ancient times by the human being to obtain salt, of which there are not many examples in Andalusia since most are artificial salt flats that after abandoning their use, have been semi-transformed into marshes or lagoons.
Its origin is due to the contribution of the coarse sediment of the ramblas and displaced along the coast by coastal drift. Its water supply comes from the torrents created by the rain and also, although in a lesser case, from an endorheic source, that is, from underground aquifers that emerge to the surface. The salt exploitation probably began in the Phoenician or Carthaginian period, there being archaeological evidence that in the Roman period there was a consolidated salting industry.
The lagoon receives sediments from the torrents previously mentioned that contribute them from the nearby mountains and to a lesser extent it also receives a sandy supply from the marine currents as well as from the wind that accumulates it creating the barrier that separates it from the sea.
As this area is an area with many hours of sun, its evaporation is rapid and for those from historical times has been an ideal place for the extraction of salt continuously as the time of desiccation is short to receive the water inputs indicated above . However, artificial stone barriers have been created to prevent erosion caused by waves.
After talking about its geological origin and use by man, we must indicate that this lagoon has an extraordinary ecological importance due mainly to its geographical location. Being located in the south of Europe, relatively close to the African continent, it becomes a zone of passage and hibernation of many birds on their way from Europe to Africa and vice versa.
This ecological importance, converts this ecosystem into an area for visualization of both marine, wetland and passage birds according to the time of the year in which we locate
There are several marked areas according to the map that we attach to enjoy the observation without disturbing the different species; so it is highly recommended to use binoculars, telescopes and other optical instruments. At the entrance there is a garden of tarayes, plant of the autochthonous zone where the vehicles can be left before proceeding to the visualization.
There are more than 100 different species in the park, however we highlight the pink flamingo and a resident species called Dupont’s lark Other species to see are: Bonelli’s eagle, Osprey, Montagu’s harrier, Marsh harrier, Northern gannet, Northern pintail, Lapwing, Avocet, Eurasian owl, Collared pratincole, Little tern, Cormorant, spatula, imperial heron.
The nearby towns to stay are San Miguel de Cabo de Gata and Almadraba de Monteleva.