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River Guadalhorce in Málaga Municipality in Málaga Province

By Nick Nutter | 24 Jan 2018

Saturday 16th January 2016 dawned cold but clear with a chilly north westerly blowing down from the mountains across the estuary of the Rio Guadalhorce at Malaga. Whether it was the wind or some other factor we did not see the variety we expected at this time of year at this location however the lack of numbers was more than compensated for by one bird.

A Booted Eagle sat in a tree grooming itself for a good thirty minutes. There are always pluses and minuses. He was so well camouflaged that you had to know he was there to see him and I could not obtain a good photograph. Still, you take what you can find.

There were plenty of White Headed Ducks, Coots, Mallards and Cormorants. We saw a few Teal and a couple of Flamingos put in an appearance along with a few Little Grebe but it was the eagle that made the day.

September 2015

At the mouth, or estuary, of the River Guadalhorce, is one of the best bird watching sites in Malaga Province. The protected area of the estuary is in an unlikely position, on the flight path and at the end of the runway, Easy Jet, Ryan Air et al cruise in or out at less than 500 feet. Just to the north the first apartment blocks of Malaga city overlook the lagoons.

A few hundred metres from the sea the River Guadalhorce splits into two arms, the eastern arm is imaginatively called Brazo de Levante whilst the western arm is called, you guessed it, Brazo de Poniente. Between the two is a 67 hectare triangle of land. Despite appearances it is mainly man made. Until the 1970’s the area was agricultural land, this was reduced in area during the 70s and early 80s as gravel and sand mining for the burgeoning construction industry became more lucrative. The pits created filled with spring water to form lagoons. The area was then landscaped to improve the natural vegetation cover, reduce the number of lagoons to seven and install the paths and hides. As a result the estuary is home to a diverse range of birds, over 300 species can be seen here during the year, some migratory, some resident, that take advantage of the various environments, beach, saltwater estuary, sand dunes, salt marsh and fresh water lagoons.

The best time to visit is between September and March. The site then hosts large numbers of over wintering species from northern Europe.

4th April 2015

In one morning we saw: Avocet, Dunlin, Black Winged Stilts, Little Grebe, Pochard, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Ringed Plover, Goldfinch, Gadwall, Red Shank, White Headed Duck, Coot, Common Tern, Moorhen and Bee Eaters.

How to get there

Take the A7 towards Malaga following the signs for the airport. These take you on to the MA 20 and then off on to the new road into the airport. As you come off the MA 20 keep to the left, this takes you to a roundabout beneath the main roads overhead. Turn right and follow the signs for the Desembocadure del Guadalhorce. There are maps at the start of each route.

Please be aware that in the past there have been a number of thefts from vehicles in the vicinity. There is parking available a couple of hundred metres from the start of the walks, in a more populous area, outside the church.

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