Donana National Park and the town of El Rocío

An extremely hot day but thankfully the drive to the National park and bird sanctuary was in a late model 4 wheel Toyota – air conditioned and with a careful driver, a vital criteria for me on all levels.

First stop the marshes and bird sanctuary

The rather dry dusty visitors centre with a storks nest. Along the road almost every power pole had a stork’s nest – hundreds of them.

Hundreds of bird species including flamingos

The town of El Rocío is quite something, it took me back to the days at the local picture theatre and spaghetti westerns , truely. The streets are pure sandy dirt, whilst cars abound, on weekends the horse rules and outside the pubs, bars and some houses are hitching rails. I would not have been surprised to see John Wayne swagger down the wide street as tumble weed was blown along by gusting hot prairie winds, and it was hot, believe me.

The rest of the day was spent slowly driving through the sandy scrub of the national park sadly the ecosystem destroyed last Century by the growing of eucalyptus plantations. We then arrived at the sand cliffs and dunes of the coast and the Atlantic Ocean, which I am forced to admit was rather a let down given the hype that preceded it. We do much better in Australia and especially South Australia and Kangaroo Island.

The Story of the Iberian Lynx

As we drove along it was explained to us all that we may be lucky and spy a lynx. It’s habitat was threatened , signs along the road urged caution lest the next lynx we see may be road kill. One could be forgiven therefore if one assumed that like the Australian kangaroo and wallaby, there would be a reasonable chance that we would come across an Iberian lynx. So we drove at walking pace almost, through sandy slippery roads in the forest looking eagerly left and right for about 90 long minutes, by which time the excitement and anticipation had worn rather thin!

Oh well sighed our otherwise excellent guide, they are mostly nocturnal and then, wait for it, he further explained, the current head count of the number of living Iberian Lynx in the Donana National Park is 11. Yes that is ELEVEN. Now let’s indulge in some mathematics here. The area of this National Park is 540 sq Km that’s 540,000,000 sq metres, divide that by 11, and you will understand that we had as much chance of coming across an Iberian Lynx, as I have of bouncing my bum on the moon.

I had two beers when I got back to civilisation and Seville.

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