Marshes and wetlands
Andalucia has many extensive and ecologically important areas of marshes and wetlands, which attract thousands of birds. Since Andalucia is located at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, these places are also crucial for migrating birds to stop off and feed on their long journeys, and as breeding sites.
A substantial stretch of the Atlantic Costa de la Luz is dotted with tidal marshes, the largest being the Guadalquivir delta. This has created one of Europe´s largest wetland areas, the vast Doñana National Park. West of Huelva is the region´s second most significant area of its kind, the Marismas del Odiel Natural Area and, near Portugal, is another coastal salt marsh, the Marismas de Isla Cristina Natural Area. South of Cadiz is the Bahía de Cádiz Natural Area, encompassing salt pans, salt marshes and beaches.
The Mediterranean coastline has fewer coastal wetland sites, which are much smaller and often surrounded (and encroached upon) by agricultural activities, such as the Albuferas de Adra Natural Reserve, which is bordered by the plastic greenhouses commonly seen on the Almeria coastline.
Inland, Andalucia´s most famous wetland is the saline lake at the Fuente de Piedra Natural Reserve, Europe´s largest inland breeding site for flamingos, where the pink birds congregate every spring in their thousands to reproduce. Other wetlands, like the Laguna del Conde and the Laguna de Zóñar in southern Cordoba province, provide refuges for wildlife, especially as havens for rare and endangered birds. In recent years conservationists have carried out a successful project to increase numbers of the white-headed duck, which used to be extremely rare.