Complejo Endorreico de Espera Natural Reserve
Situated close to the Seville/Cadiz provincial border is the 438ha Complejo Endorreico de Espera Natural Reserve, with three lakes: Hondilla, Salada de Zorrilla and Dulce de Zorrilla. This is a significant site for waterfowl, since four out of the 15 aquatic bird species that are increasingly rare in Spain breed or overwinter here. These four are the red-knobbed coot and three types of duck: white-headed, marbled and ferrunginous.
From the A4 from Seville, take the exit for Las Cabezas de San Juan and then the CA4412 towards Espera and the reserve is on the right-hand side before reaching Espera. Alternatively, from Cadiz or Jerez de la Frontera, take the exit for Arcos de la Frontera from the A4, turning off the A382 just past Arcos towards Espera, on the A393. A few kilometres beyond Espera take the right turn-off, the CA4412 towards Las Cabezas de San Juan. Next to the Hondilla lake is an observatory. There is also a signposted path around the reserve.
The three lakes all have dense vegetation on their banks, made up of reeds, rushes and reedmace. Hondilla also has some tamarisk. Also in the reserve are lentisc, wild olive trees and dwarf fan palms.
The reserve is outstanding for its waterfowl, which spend the winter or breed here. The white-headed duck has increased in numbers, partly due to the conservation efforts in wetland sites in the southwestern Cordoba province, but the population of these ducks in the Espera reserve is also significant. Red-knobbed coots and purple gallinules also breed very successfully at this site.
During migration, the lakes are a resting place for many birds, like flamingos and storks.