Articles on nature tours, birding and photography in and around Doņana.
Bird-watching, nature and photography in Doņana, Spain.
Fauna and flora studies and nature photography in the Doņana area.
The geography of Doņana National and Natural Parks.
The complete Doņana river basin covers a vast area of some 1,300 km2 or over 100,000 hectares. It comprises the deltas of the Guadalquivir, Guadaira and Guadiamar with Rio Tinto bordering to the far west. The main river is the Guadalquivir (from the Arabic "The Great Valley") which stretches right across Andalusia flowing 657 kilometres from east to west before draining into the Doņana marshes and Atlantic Ocean. About half the size of the Doņana area falls under the name of National Park (543 km2), some 135 km2 of which receive the highest level of protection for its wildlife with restricted public access. The remaining area is the Natural Park. This secondary area is mostly combined with farmland, where the principal crop is rice. Doņana lies in three Spanish provinces: Huelva to the west, Seville to the east and north and Cadiz in the south-eastern section.
An internationally renowned national park.
Doņana has received awards and recognition which pay homage to its unique biodiversity: Biosphere Reserve 1981; Important International Wetland (RAMSAR) 1982; Area of Special Bird Protection (ZEPA) 1988; World Heritage Site 1994; Council of Europe Conservation Area 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000.
Topography of Doņana.
As mentioned earlier, a very large proportion of the land area of the Doņana Natural Park is under rice, which being flooded during the winter and spring periods provides ideal habitats for marshland fauna and flora. The National Park comprises three fairly clearly marked broad areas and ecosystems. Running along the Atlantic coast are the huge sand dunes, some of which reach heights of over 100 metres. These level off towards the interior of the park where pine trees grow among the sand. A more stabilized sand area of scrub and forest makes up the north-western area and to the north and to the east there is a large wetlands area of marsh. On closer inspection, the visitor will find more specific and localised habitas of rivers and streams, woods and copses, reed beds, ponds and lagoons and even cliff faces.
The fauna and flora of Doņana.
These ecosystems are a permanent home or wintering quarters to very large number of species of fauna and flora. The most emblematic being the Iberian lynx, the imperial eagle, the deer and wild boar, crested coots, lonely bitterns and black storks. In fact, there are over 800 species of flora, some 400 species of bird life, 40 species of mammal, 20 fish species, 20 reptiles and 10 amphibians. Bird populations are at their greatest during winter and spring when they reach over half a million.
Designated areas around the original Doņana National park area were added in 1989. These areas are known as the Doņana Natural Park and although they receive certain protection, due to human habitation and agricultural activity access is open to the public. Consequently, visitors exploring Doņana for themselves will usually be restricted to these areas. Entrance to the Doņana National Park proper must be through official guided tours. However, there are several visitor's centres dotted around the National Park's periphery where hides have been set up looking into or close to the restricted areas. In the pages of this site, I shall mention places and routes within the Natural Park especially with advice on how to get there and the fauna, flora and landscapes the visitor can enjoy without any need for access permission.
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