Fed by an underground spring the Laguna de Zonar, near Aquilar de la Frontera in the south of Cordoba province is never likely to dry out completely. As such it is the most important of the six lakes that make up the South Cordoba Wetlands Nature Reserve, all oasis for innumerable species of birds. Laguna de Zonar is especially known for being one of the lakes where the White Headed duck, threatened with extinction in Andalucia and classified as rare in Europe, recovered its numbers. Once down to 25 birds you can now see this species on lakes and lagoons from Roquetas de Mar to Malaga and inland as far as Cordoba.
Laguna de Zonar has an informative visitors centre. The ecological balance between the flora and fauna surrounding and in the lagoon is well explained and includes the unfortunate decision some 80 years ago, to introduce carp into the lake to feed the local population and the measures taken since to mitigate the ecological disaster that resulted.
The winter months are when you will see most species from the single public hide overlooking the lagoon. We visited on the 1st October 2017, just before the bulk of the winter migrants are due to arrive. The other five lagoons, Laguna de Tiscar, Laguna del Rincon, Laguna Amarga, Laguna de los Jarales and Laguna del Conde o Salobral were either dry or almost dry following a long, hot, rainless, summer.
In a short space of time we saw White Headed Ducks in good numbers, Grey Herons both at the edge of the water and perched in trees with a single Purple Heron hunched up on a branch to one side as though intimidated by his larger brethren. A Gallinule made a brief appearance at the water’s edge before scooting back to the reeds. A Crested Grebe and Little Grebes were ducking and diving in the centre of the lake. We had the usual crowd of Mallards,Coots and a few Pintails. A Hoopoe was busy just in front of the hide. Altogether not a bad day.
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Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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