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Despite appearances the mouth of the Rio Guadalhorce is one of the best birding sites in Andalusia. After many years of disturbance, illegal hunting and pollution the area is now protected and now forms an important passage stopover for a large number of species as well as providing wintering and breeding habitat.
In addition to the river itself there are flooded gravel-pits and reedbeds on a scrub-covered alluvial plain, a stretch of riverine woodland and the beach. The protected area stretches between the two arms of the river and the sea and there is restricted access to some parts.
Flooding occurs at times which can make access very difficult and recent construction work is making further difficulties. More than 250 bird species have been recorded here including rarities such as Western Reef Heron and Royal Tern.
 Notable Species
Breeding birds include Little Grebe and Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron and Grey Heron, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover. Audouin's Gull occurs in summer and on passage and also present in summer are Pallid Swift and European Bee-eater, Greater Short-toed Lark and Iberian Yellow Wagtail. Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler and Dartford Warbler are resident in the area with Reed Warbler and Great Reed Warbler occurring in summer and on passage. Greater Flamingo can occur throughout the year.
Purple Heron and other herons occur as migrants along with Black Stork, Garganey, Spotted Crake and a wide variety of waders. Collared Pratincole is regular in small numbers but more numerous are Little Ringed Plover and Grey Plover, Knot and godwits. Common Redshank, Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper.
Gulls occur in large numbers and, as well as Audouin's Gull, can include Mediterranean Gull and Little Gull along with the commoner species. Terns are also well-represented with Caspian Tern and Gull-billed Tern, Common Tern and Little Tern joining the more or less resident Sandwich Tern. All three marsh terns can be seen and even Royal Tern is possible. Northern Gannet and Cory's Shearwater occur offshore in autumn as well as Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua and Great Skua.
Passage raptors such as Osprey, harriers, kites and buzzards also occur with regular Booted Eagle which has also wintered in recent years. European Roller and White-rumped Swift are regular in small numbers on passage and a wide variety of passerines occurs including hirundines, chats and warblers.
Winter brings Great Crested Grebe and Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret and Little Egret and Common Snipe and Jack Snipe. Waterfowl such as Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall and Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler and Common Pochard winter here as well as scarcer species such as Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck and Marbled Duck.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Yelkouan Shearwater, Cory's Shearwater, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Greylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Western Honey-Buzzard, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Razorbill, Feral Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Short-eared Owl, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, White-rumped Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Common Nightingale, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Eurasian Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Penduline Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Corn Bunting
 Other Wildlife
 Site Information
 History and Use
 Areas of Interest
The Guadalhorce Marshes can be reached with ease by road from Malaga, taking the N-340 towards Cadiz and turn off to the right after 4km just before the bridge. Continue under the bridge and take the first track towards the beach. Park at the fence and continue on foot exploring the riverbanks, pools, Tamarisk scrub areas and beach.
Accommodation is plentiful in adjacent Malaga and in other nearby towns.
 Access and Facilities
 Contact Details
 External Links
Content and images originally posted by Steve