Back to Sotogrande | HOME    




                             RIVER GUADIARO and ESTUARY, SOTOGRANDE

A natural area of 27 hectares, the only marshland on this part of the coast has been designated as an  Andalucian National Park, Wildlife and Nature Reserve.

A series of pathways has been constructed with information boards explaining the natural area enabling nature lovers unobstructed views of the estuary, it's wildlife and in particular the migratory Birds on their route to and from Africa.

The following information has been reproduced with the kind permission of Bird watching in Southern Spain

red= continental raptors (migrating southwards)

purple= iberian raptors (migrating southwards)

Southern Spain can be considered the bridge between Africa and the North-western and Central Europe and even Western Asia.

What is the behaviour of the different species on migration?

Following mountains, rivers, etc. birds coming from western and central Europe mainly go to Western Africa. Both coastal routes and inland routes are used and they concentrate at the Eastern half of Iberia. Birds of prey coming from central Europe pass the Pyrenees and go down following the Mediterranean coast, while birds from Spain itself tend to follow the western coast. It is the weather conditions that often force the birds to congregate or drift away from their original route .


Small birds

The first migrating birds are small birds who cross the Sahara to winter in Africa. They avoid the dry east of Spain and prefer to go through the wetter northwest. One group goes down at the Portuguese coastline and finally cross the Atlantic to Morocco. Another group can be found at the eastern side of this route and cross Gibraltar or better the strait near Tarrifa to arrive in Morocco and go on through the Sahara desert to reach the rich tropical grounds of Africa.

This first wave is followed by a later one whose birds winter in Morocco and Spain itself, and concentrate along the Mediterranean coast. They arrive in October November.

The small birds are the first ones who leave and cross Spain back to their breeding grounds. In March the African migrants start their journey back. Arriving in Spain in April/ May they need some time to refill their energy after the exhausting crossing of the Sahara. With bad weather lots of birds are stranded on the western  Mediterranean coast and the strait. They go northwards taking a north-eastern route instead of the western route they came down with.


Waders Follow mostly the Atlantic coast to go to their wintering grounds in Morocco and the famous Banc d'Arguin. Others Follow the Mediterranean coast of Spain via delta del Ebro and Gabo de Gata.


Follow coastal routes and inland lagoons.


We can see a horizontal movement of seabirds between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Other descend along the African coast. In Summer and Autumn we see large flocks on beaches and coastal lagoons especially Gulls. They return in February and March.



                                                Back to Sotogrande | HOME