Marismas del Río Palmones Natural Park
The 58ha Marismas del Río Palmones Natural Area is one of the last remaining patches of what used to be extensive marshlands (marismas) in the Bahía de Algerciras, the bay between Algeciras and Gibraltar. From the early 1970s onwards, increasing industrial and housing development encroached upon the marismas of the Palmones and Guadarranque rivers. Today, the conservation of the area - with its rich variety of birdlife and important ecosystems - shows that it is possible to protect an important wildlife site situated in a built-up industrial area.
Like the Estuario del Guadiaro Natural Area, the Río Palmones marismas are an important resting place for migratory birds that take a route west of the Strait of Gibraltar, especially since the disappearance of other areas where the birds used to stop on their journey between Europe and Africa.
The protected area contains an 800m stretch of coastal dunes, which are between 100-300m high. Next to the dunes is a marshland, dotted with intertidal pools and creeks.
The best place to view the Palmones river is from the observatory just north of the village of El Rinconcillo, north of Algeciras. This is accessible from Algeciras (signposted from Algeciras seafront, or from the N340 towards San Roque). The estuary can also be seen from the village of Palmones on the north bank of the river. Palmones is signposted off the N340.
The marismas are colonised by glasswort (salicornia europaea) and reeds.
More than 170 species of birds have been recorded at this site. During migration there are many waders, herons, flamingos, spoonbills and storks, with raptors passing overhead. Waders like Kentish plovers can be seen in the creeks and pools of the marismas. In winter there are ducks, gulls, ospreys, terns and comorants here.