Starcat 1 by my favourite artist

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Inland from the Guadalquivir: Ducks, Drakes and Meres

After exploring the banks of the Guadalquivir[i], This weekend we turned inland to explore the countryside surrounding the town of Espera. To our surprise, we discovered a set of three meres, the Complejo Endorréico de Espera, that are home to a wide range of birdlife, both aquatic and otherwise.

Far in the distance, Fatetar castle dominates the countryside.
Turning off the main road, we took a dirt track towards the meres. Click here to see a map. As we took the track, to the left we coud see Espera's Fatetar Castle rising above the emerald green fields, more of which later.

We then took the track towards the wetlands. Today we were in Burbuja, my Dark Lady's Citröen C4, which was completely at home with the conditions. 

Scrubland, farmland and newly-sown fields.

Burbuja, parked up and watching over a complex of rabbity residences.
Leaving the castle behind,we forged on along well-maintined dirt tracks towards our destination. As we passed the undulating hills of farmland, we were amazed by the sheer number of birds to be seen: partridges running across the road as we approached, finches of every descrition wittering away in the bushes and trees, and marsh harriers hovering above us in search of a tasty hare or rabbit, whose warrens are to be found everywhere. 

Indeed, we were lucky enough to see two harriers involved in their aerial mating rituals. 

For a more exhaustive list of the flora and fauna to be found, click here. The common names are in Spanish, but they are accompanied by their Latin names, too.  

Bad joke: Q.;What do you call a man with a load of rabbits 

stuffed up his fundament?

A.: Warren.
The vastness of the landscape is truly amazing, yet the rolling hills make it seem more familiar and intimate than the endless plains that conform the Guadalquivir valley that lies beneath the foothills.

Soon we arrived at our destination. The first of the three meres, Laguna Hondilla, is completely fenced off and has no path around it, so we started to walk towards the second, Laguna Salada de la Zorilla.

Laguna La Zoriilla Salada.
If the truth be told, there was not a lot of birdlife to be seen, but we could certainly hear it; quackings, splashings, plashings honkings, flappings, tweetings, twitterings and witterings filled the air. In fact, it sounded frighteningly like one of the bird-brained Wednesday morning meetings at the august educational establishment where I have the honour and privilege to earn my crust.

Moreover, with just a phone camera, it would be well-nigh impossible to take good photos, but there are plenty to be seen in the links I have included above. 

After a walk around the mere and the surrounding countryside, it was time to head back to the car and explore the castle. 

Like many castles in Andalusia, the town's cemetary nestles close to the walls.
Fatetar Castle. you can just about see the tower on the left.
Although the rocky outcrop doesn't look particuarly high, the road leading up to the castle from the town side was quite steep and had to be taken in first gear. The view, however, was worth it, but not really woth photographing. Seen one alluvial plain, seen 'em all!
I did take some photos of the castle and its environs.
A piece of decorative stonework,
probably replaced during restoration.

An interesting limestone formation
A set of doorways and an arch. All very
       The entrance to the castle.
       Once serving as a church, it
         is now a museum.

Then it was back into the car and off to find somewhere to have a well-deserved coffee before returning to Sanlu to watch from our balcony the sun set over the neighours' houses.

And so, dear reader, to bed.

[i] BTW, Guadalquivir is a corruption of the Arabic, Guad-al-Kebir, literally big river, or in Spanish Río Grande – a name I’m sure that lovers of Westerns will be more than familiar with. 


  1. It sounds (and looks) like a very beautiful and interesting place to visit. The photos suggest that there were not many people around to spoil the view and the natural sounds and I hope that was the case.

    The name of the river reminds us of the region's Muslim past. The Moors must have considered Al-Andalus an earthly paradise and mourned bitterly their expulsion from it.

  2. It was indeed wonderful day out. Cádiz is the smallest province in Andalusia, but bursting with possibilities.

    The greatest number of people that we saw was at Fatetar castle, waiting for the ethnographic museum to open. We didn't as the need for coffee was weighing heavily upon us. No doubt we'll be back that way in the not-too-distant future.