Parque Nacional de Doñana
Along the Atlantic Ocean at the convergence of Sevilla, Huelva and Cádiz provinces, Doñana National Park encompasses Western Europe’s largest and biographically most important surviving wetlands. Its proximity to North Africa ensures that great clouds of birds stop to rest, reproduce and feed among its habitats during their yearly migratory routes to and from northern Europe. The birds, which can number well into the millions, in turn attract great numbers of ornithologists and weekend bird-watchers who clamber to catch sight of the endangered Spanish imperial eagle or the more common flamingos, avocets and herons. Marshlands, or marismas, are the most predominant of the park’s three cooperative eco-systems, formed by the silting of the River Guadalquivir estuary at the mouth of the Atlantic over 1,500 years ago.
The river serves as the eastern boundary of Doñana. From its mouth to the west along the Atlantic coast, tidal winds sweep Spain’s longest and most pristine beach into sand dunes, accounting for the second unique eco-system in the park. As the dunes are slowly pushed inland they pile up and over pine forests, the park’s third habitat, and verge on the marismas. These corrals, as they are known, will eventually be swept back to the sea, leaving behind a graveyard of pines as the cycle repeats itself.
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