Laguna Amarga Natural Reserve
One of six inland saline lakes in southern Cordoba province, Laguna Amarga and its protected environs covers 263ha and, like the other lakes, attracts numerous migrant birds in winter and for breeding. It is a permanent lake and is located between Puente Genil and Lucena. There is a footpath around the lake, which leads to a bird hide.
It is one of six wetland sites in southern Cordoba, all of them natural reserves. The others are: Laguna de Zóñar, Laguna del Conde, Laguna de Tíscar, Laguna de los Jarales, Laguna Amarga and Laguna de Rincon.
The Centro de Visitantes Zóñar is at the Zonar Lagoon reserve and has information on all the lakes so is a good place visit first. It is located on the A-304 just south of Aguilar de la Frontera. Leave the A-304 at the roundabout at km 4.3 and follow signes for Zoñar lagoon on the old road. Tel: 957 335 252. It has a car park, bird hides and information on the lake. There are also two trails around the Zonar reserve, the Sendero Botánico La Carrizosa and the Sendero del Observatorio, both at the visitors' centre.
From Puente Genil take the Badolatosa road, then head north east on the CO-751 towards Lucena. The lake is a few kilometres northeast on the right hand side. It is in a hollow and It is well signposted from the road and there is a car park. At the lake is a bird hide.follow the path to the viewpoint. Alternatively take the CO-751 from Lucena which is 20km. From the Laguna de los Jarales near Benameji, take the A-3228 north 4km and turn sharp left on the CO-751.
The lake has a continuous belt of tamarisk (tamarisk africana, t. canariensis) on its shores, one of most outstanding in Andalucia. Reeds (phragmites australis), cattails (typha dominguensis) and giant reeds (arundo donax) grow next to the tamarisk. Also here is a wetland pasture, with branched centaury (centaurium pulchellum), Spanish sunflower (pulicaria paludosa) and ragwort (senecio jacobea).
Abundant submerged vegetation grows in the lake, like bearded stonewort (chara canescens) and widgeon grass (ruppia maritima), providing plentiful food for birds and other wildlife.
Beyond the lake shores is Mediterranean scrubland with Kermes oak (quercus coccifera), lentisc (pistacia lentiscus) and honeysuckle (lonicera sp.).
The best time to visit is in winter, then many wildfowl flock to the lake. White-headed ducks, purple gallinules, red-crested pochards, little grebes, great crested grebes, coots, mallards and moorhens can be commonly seen here all year round. You can also spot Montagu's harriers and Bonelli's eagles flying over the lake.