Complejo Endorreico de El Puerto de Santa María Natural Reserve
Inland near El Puerto de Santa María are a series of three freshwater lakes: Salada, Chica and Juncosa. Salada is the largest, covering an area of 36ha. They are fed mainly by rainwater, which means that in times of drought they can dry out and leave a bed of crusted salt, although the Salada is the least likely to dry out completely. The whole reserve (including a core area of 63ha of the lakes) covers an area of 291ha.
As it is close to the Guadalquivir marshlands and the Doñana National Park, the reserve and its lakes provide a habitat for the birds of this park, particularly in summer or times of drought. When the marshlands of the Doñana dry out in summer, the Salada lake usually still has water, so it becomes an important refuge for birds like the flamingo and the marbled duck from the park.
West of the NIV, just south of Jerez, is Aquasherry Park, from where there is a road west. After a few kilometres look out for the lakes to the right. There is a signposted path to the lakes.
On the lake shores are rushes (juncos), hence the name of the Juncosa lake, as well as tamarisk, reedmace and reeds.
Surrounding the lakes are wild olive trees, lentisc and dwarf fan palms. The area used to have more dense vegetation characteristic of Mediterranean scrubland areas before it was largely cleared for agricultural purposes, mainly for cereal cultivation.
As well as its importance as a back-up in summer for birds of the Doñana mentioned above, the reserve is also home to many aquatic birds in winter or during migration periods. These include garganey, marbled and white-headed ducks and red-crested pochards. There are also black-winged stilts, Kentish plovers, avocets and collared pratincoles.