… is by all means very interesting for naturalists,
both for Northern Europeans as well as local birdwatchers. It is also a perfect
site to visit while on holiday in our city. Here you can find rich birdlife and
some interesting sights.
The place to start with is the Roman Bridge
where you can easily watch the Sotos de la Albolafia Natural
Monument and its heronry. It is mainly composed of Cattle Egrets, Little Egrets
and Night Herons (for the 2008 survey results click here  http://aeaelbosqueanimado.blogspot.com/2009/10/censo-de-los-dormideros-de-ardeidas-y.html).
In the winter it is a spectacular starling roost.
If you walk westward on the right side, the track is
easy to follow and you can delight in the riparian woodland, consisting of
Poplars (Populus alba) and Willows (Salix alba). This ecosystem
is protected by the Habitat Directive.
More birds regurlarly turn up while birding the river:
The Purple Gallinule is as spectacular as it gets.  The Little bittern,
flocks of Bee-Eaters, and a large colony of Sand Martins are also regular
sights.  You are guaranteed good viewing of several smaller passerines
like the Cetti’s Warbler, Nightingale, Penduline Tit, and so on …
Nycticorax nycticorax (Foto: J.M.Delgado)


Other highlights are observations of Pond terrapins (Mauremys mauritanica)
and of course otters, if you are lucky enough. In fact this last species is
quite common in the region and is firmily established in the city. It is easy
to see tracks and footprints of otters when the water level is low and leaves
plenty of mud and topping stones in view. Whenever you walk along the San Rafael Bridge, keep an eye on the river. You
can see adults at any time, but the best time of the day is dusk (something of
a 10% chance to see the local otter!).

Each year there are more than a hundred bird species recorded along the 7km
strech of river surveyed by our non-profit organization. You can find the
complete results of our surveys and more general information (with english
summaries) in our downloadable magazine Arvícola (issue nº,1 click here).
Enjoy yourself and please, tell us about your experience here.