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The Odiel Marismas

                                                   Located in the south of the province of Huelva, at the convergence
                                                   of the mouths of the Rio Tinto and the Rio Odiel, the confluence of
                                                   fresh and salt water has produced an area of tidal marshland
                                                   known as the Odiel Marismas .
                                                   Both rivers deposit a large amount of nutrient-rich sediment at
                                                   their mouths. These are the primary food source for the birds that
                                                   live in the Nature Area. Meanwhile, this constant supply of nutrients
                                                   and the strength of the tides form islands separated by long
                                                   channels of water, such as the Islands of Enmedio, Saltés and
                                                   Bacuta, to the south of the area. This salt-water environment
                                                   determines the predominance of plant species resistant to high salt
                                                   concentrations, known as halophyte plants.
                                                   Part of its ecological wealth stems from the variety of landscapes
                                                   that make up this area. There are tidal marshes, lakes such as
                                                   Batán and Taraje, Espigón Beach and the forests of El Almendral, El
                                                   Acebuchal and La Cascajera. It is unusual on account of its extreme
                                                   flatness making it easy to see the hundreds of birds that arrive in
                                                   the area to feed and nest.
                                                   One of the main areas is Enmedio Island. It is home to one of
                                                   Europe’s largest breeding grounds for spoonbills, which are an
                                                   endangered species. Spoonbills build their nests with mud and a
                                                   range of plant material to make small platforms located in the
                                                   marshland areas in the shelter of annual sea-blite and salt meadow
                                                   cordgrass plants. When the eggs hatch, the chicks are fed by both
                                                   their parents. On any day you should see grebes, cormorants,
                                                   flamingos, diverse species of gull, as well as waders such as
                                                   redshanks, whimbrels and black-winged stilts. You may be
                                                   fortunate to spot a Glossy Ibis.
                                                   Salt production is one of the oldest uses of natural resources in
                                                   the area. The Bacuta Salt Pans are an example of traditional
                                                   extraction, while the Aragonesas is more industrial. Pine nut
                                                   collection, beekeeping, livestock rearing, fishing and shellfish
                                                   collecting are the main traditional activities in this Nature Area.
                                                   The wealth of minerals, salt and fish in the area, along with its
                                                   strategic geographical location, led to the region being colonised
                                                   by a range of different cultures. Some believe that the ancient city
                                                   of Tartessos was located here. There are remains of fish-salting
                                                   basins from Roman times, and the Salthish archaeological site on
                                                   the island of Saltés dates to the Moors; this was a major city, capital
                                                   of the Taifal kingdom of the Bakrids in the 10th and 11th centuries.
                                                   Finally, for some beautiful views of the estuary, take a walk around
                                                   the old Riotinto company loading wharf, on the outskirts of Huelva
                                                   city, built to load onto ships, minerals arriving by rail.

                                                                                                                            Serving Excellent & Sumptuous Food

   32                    April 2019
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