Laguna de Zóñar Natural Reserve
With its surface measuring 37ha, the Laguna de Zóñar is the largest of a series of inland saline lakes in southern Cordoba province and the deepest in Andalucia. It is the most important lake in the province, of outstanding ornithological interest as a haven for overwintering aquatic birds and an important breeding area for many bird species, particularly the white-headed duck. Its total protected area covers 370ha.
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.
The lagoon is near Aguilar de la Frontera off the A-45 Cordoba to Antequera Motorway. The reserve is easily accessible, 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.
The predominant vegetation is tamarisk (tamarisk canariensis, t.africana). There is also roundhead bulrush (scirpus holoschoenus), yellow wort (blackstonia perfoliata), vervain (verbena officinalis) and St John's wort (hypericum tomentosum). In the streams feeding into the lake are dense reedbeds of giant reeds (arundo donax).
South of the main lake is a smaller one, La Carrizosa, named after the reeds (carrizos) that grow there, like phragmites australis. Around the lake is Mediterranean scrubland, made up of wild olives (olea europea sylvestris) and lentisc (pistacia lentiscus). South of the lake is a large grove of cherry trees. Surrounding the lake are olive groves.
Try and visit in winter when there are great flocks of wildfowl, including great crested grebes, little grebes, shelducks, shovelers, teals, gadwalls, red-crested pochards, and teals. The reeds are home to reed warblers.
There is a variety of reptiles and amphibians, like terrapins, frogs, salamanders and snakes.
Certain species of fish, like carp, have been introduced, which have had a negative ecological impact on the lake's wildlife.