Many bird species have chosen the Sierra de Cádiz region as their permanent or temporary habitat. The climatic and orographic conditions and the flora and fauna have made this area an ideal setting for ornithology, with a large number of species of birds of prey and waterfowl. This route presents different geographical landmarks scattered throughout the Pueblos Blancos where birdwatching can be practised. The itinerary is made up of the following sites: Complejo Endorreico de Espera (Espera), Cola del Embalse de Arcos (Arcos de la Frontera), Cola del Embalse de Bornos (Bornos), Manga de Villaluenga (Villaluenga del Rosario), Ribera del Gaidóvar (Grazalema), Puerto del Boyar (Grazalema), Puerto de las Palomas (Grazalema), Puerto de los Acebuches (Grazalema), Garganta Verde (Zahara de la Sierra) y la Reserva Natural del Peñón de Zaframagón (Olvera).
The Complejo Endorreico de Espera, located in the municipality of the same name, is made up of three lagoons, the Salada Hondilla, the Salada de Zorilla and the Dulce de Zorilla. From their respective observatories, it is possible to spot red-knobbed coots and white-headed ducks, two endangered species. Other birds that nest in this area are mallards, gadwalls, common pochards, Eurasian coots, western swamphens and black-necked grebes. The Complejo Endorreico is also home to migratory species such as white storks and flamingos.
In Arcos de la Frontera is the Paraje Natural Cola del Embalse de Arcos, an enclave of great avifaunal value, as it is a nesting and wintering area for numerous species. In this area, declared a Special Protection Area for Birds, mallards and gadwalls, purple and grey herons and little egrets nest. It is also home to Eurasian coots, common moorhen, western swamphen, yellow-legged and black-headed gulls, great cormorants and little grebes. As for birds of prey, western marsh harriers and ospreys stand out. The Santiscal viewpoint stands out in this area, a location of great scenic value and ideal for observation.
The Paraje Cola del Embalse de Bornos shapes a natural environment in the vicinity of the Guadalete river. Of great ecological importance, it is home to species such as the northern shoveler, the great cormorant, the squacco heron, the Eurasian wigeon, the mallard, the little egret, the northern lapwing, the dunlin or the grey heron.
In the vicinity of the municipality of Grazalema we will visit different places where we can practice ornithology. If we decide to stop along the road that runs through the Ribera del Gaidóvar area, we can observe birds such as the European green woodpecker, small passeriformes or black wheatears, in the area closest to the municipality.
Another natural balcony located between Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra is Puerto de las Palomas. From this setting, we can observe different landscapes such as the Garganta Verde, the Sierra de Lijar or the municipality of Algodonales. Despite not having its own observation infrastructure, we will find birds of prey, high mountain birds and rock-nesting species.
The Garganta Verde canyon is a geological landmark of limestone rock located in Zahara de la Sierra and close to the Bocaleones stream. This route, for which prior authorisation is required, is home to large colonies of griffon vultures. This trail is ideal for spotting other species such as Alpine swifts, rock doves, the red-billed choughs and eagles.
The Peñón de Zaframagón Nature Reserve, located in the town of Olvera, is a unique place, full of native species. It is home to the largest colony of griffon vultures in Western Andalusia and one of the largest in Europe. We can observe other birds of prey such as the Bonelli’s eagle, the Eurasian eagle-owl, the lesser kestrel, the peregrine falcon or the short-toed nake eagle, as well as species such as the Egyptian vulture, the European bee-eater or the common kingfisher. The Old Railway Station is currently home to the Ornithological Observatory and Interpretation Centre, which has vulture nests surveillance systems and an exhibition area with information panels on the environment of the Vía Verde.