Naturalists and lovers of bird watching will discover the presence of unique colonies of resident, migratory and overwintering bird species, which are uncommon on the European continent, in the wetlands that mark out the boundaries of the district of Elche.
The Nature Reserves of El Hondo, Las Salinas, Clot de Galvany, the coastal strip and the marshes and wetlands of Els Bassals play host, both permanently and transitorily, to populations of grey teals, white-headed ducks, Squacco herons, Imperial or purple herons, storks, Penduline tits, crested coots, marsh harriers, ospreys, flamingos, red ducks, scoopers, shoveller ducks, seagulls, water coots and moorhens, among others.
The Elche company Avanza Tour organizes ornithological nature trails both in the local district and outside it. El Hondo, Las Salinas, the Island of Tabarca and Clot de Galvany are the locations of choice.
Bird Watching Spain also conducts guided tours throughout the Spanish territory. One of its flagship packages is called Wetlands, Steppe Birds and Wine, a four day journey through the various wetlands of the Valencian Region, with Las Salinas and El Hondo being amongst the nature reserves included in the stop-off points along its route.
Description: This wetland forms part of the series of ponds in the Elche area of Balsares and it is connected to the sand dunes and pine forests of Carabassí. It is a perfect example of the coastal marsh lands which urban development has put in danger. The Clot de Galvany was seriously damaged at the end of the 1970s, when it was subjected to works of drainage and land movement which altered its physiognomy. A property developer intended to drain a natural wetland to create… an artificial lake! Public pressure saved it from destruction and Elche City Council took charge of its recovery and protection, designating it as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
More information: Clot de Galvany
Description: The 2,469 hectare of the Salinas Nature Reserve, is situated in the district of Elche in the area of El Pinet and, for the main part, in Santa Pola. It includes an area of salt farms (Bras del Port and Bonmatí), some saltwater pools, a fringe of salt marshes and a swathe of beaches and dunes. This area, together with El Hondo, take in the extensive lagoon at the mouth of the Vinalopó River which continues to empty its scarce flow into the sea at this point. Declared an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty by the regional government, the Generalitat Valenciana, in 1988 and a Nature Reserve in 1994, it appears in the list of the RAMSAR Convention and is classified as ZEPA (Area of Special Protection for Birds).
More information: Parque natural de las Salinas
Description: El Hondo Nature Reserve forms part of the lagoon area of Elche, which is created by the mouth of the River Vinalopó and which was almost entirely drained between the Middle Ages and the XIII century, in order to convert it into farm land.
In this area of marsh land, in the 1920s of the last century, the Compañía de Riegos de Levante (the Levante Irrigation Company), constructed two regulating reservoirs: the Levante Reservoir of 450 hectares and the Poniente Reservoir of 650. They serve to collect and subsequently distribute to the local farmers, by means of a central channel, water brought from the mouth of the neighbouring River Segura. These bodies of water are hidden behind reed thickets and other marsh vegetation, giving it the aspect of great natural lagoon. They are surrounded by a series of ponds and salt marshes, with crops and groves of palm trees in the hinterland, making up an exceptional landscape.
More information: Parque natural El Hondo