José María Benítez: Guadiana river route: La Zarza-Embalse de Montijo

José María Benítez: Guadiana river route: La Zarza-Embalse de Montijo

José María Benítez: Guadiana river route: La Zarza-Embalse de Montijo

The chosen route is a tour of the Guadiana river waterways. It has an approximate length of 27 km that run almost parallel to the river Guadiana and to a lesser extent Matachel, tributary by the left margin of the first. Part from the town of La Zarza, it crosses Mérida and it arrives until the dam of Montijo. It is a route with a very low difficulty, which can be done by bicycle or walking, although it is advisable if we do it on foot, divide it into two parts in order to enjoy it fully.

At kilometer 7 of the route we arrive at the "Fábrica de la Luz", an old mill converted into an interpretation center "El Berrocal", managed by the Guadiana Hydrographic Confederation. From the bridge by the mill, it is easy to see such striking species as the Bird Remus (Remiz pendulinus) , which builds its curious and beautiful hanging nest in the nearby willows.

On reaching Merida, we cross underneath the Fernández Casado bridge, which has a colony of Vencejo real (Tachymarptis melba) . In the islands on the river there is a large colony of buzzards (Bubulcus ibis) with several hundred nests. They also breed several pairs of common herons and herons. A few hundred meters downstream we find the Roman bridge of Mérida, one of the longest of the Roman empire and authentic architectural jewel of the monumental complex of Mérida.

It is a privileged place to see birds, as is the case of Calamón (Porphyryo porphyryo) . This species appeared in the late nineties in the area and has been established as nesting in the eneas masses. It is quite common to see him sunning or feeding on stems of enea next to the arches of the bridge.

Once we leave behind Merida, the road always runs parallel to the river bank on the left bank, already in the reservoir of Montijo, declared ZEPA zone. From here we can see some old mills along the river.

Cabo furniture
Nest chairs on side

On reaching the Montijo dam we have a good view of the reservoir. It is a small reservoir that retains the waters for the irrigation, reason why sometimes during the winter is quite dry. From this place you can see the mouth of the river Aljucén, in one of the best areas to see waterfowl of the entire province of Badajoz. It is one of the few places in Extremadura where we can see the rare Carricerín (Acrocephalus melanopogon) , a small bird that is very scarce in the Iberian Peninsula and most of its range is in the this peninsular. During the winter it receives good populations of Scrantus Palustris (Emberiza schoeniclus), Pechiazul (Luscinia svecica) and it is frequent to see during the steps to Osprey

Pandion haliaetus ) .

In addition there is a scale for fish that usually concentrate birds that eat bogas, carp, barbs, etc. that try to overcome the obstacle that the prey supposes them. A frequent visitor to this area is the Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) , one of the most striking and beautiful birds for its turquoise and orange plumage that fish from the perches offered by the reeds and reeds (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Downstream of the dam, many large cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) are concentrated in winter, which after fishing usually settle on large rocks to dry their plumage extending wings. More than two hundred copies have been counted on occasions. In this same place, during the winter months, it is easy to see in full daylight the Otter (Lutra lutra) , which at that time walks with its wedding dresses.

The route finishes a few hundred meters below the dam, just when the crops next to the road begin.

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