The Albufera Natural Park in Majorca
|The Natural Park of Albufera de Mallorca (Parc natural de s’Albufera de Mallorca / Parque Natural de la Albufera de Mallorca) is the largest wetland in the Balearic Islands, the lagoon is located north of the island of Majorca, along the bay of Alcúdia, which it is separated by a dune. Part of the lagoon was declared a Natural Park in 1988.|
Flooded during most of the year, this area - nearly 1,700 acres - has great ecological importance, not only by the presence of migratory birds, which finds a rest area between Europe and Africa, but also by many plant species that live in this environment that blends fresh water and salt water.
|Etymology and toponymy|
|The name Albufera comes from the Arabic "al buhaira" (بحيرة), the "little sea", the "lagoon", the name that the Moorish occupants gave to this lagoon, like other wetlands of Spain (Albufera of Valencia) and Portugal (Albufeira in the Algarve). There is another wetland near S’Albufera named S’Albufereta ("small lagoon") and located in the municipality of Pollença.|
|The wetland of S’Albufera is located south of the Bay of Alcúdia, between Port d’Alcúdia and Ca’n Picafort, in the north of the island of Majorca. It extends over 2,850 hectares spread over the towns of Alcúdia, in Sa Pobla and Muro, with a perimeter of 32 km.|
The protected natural park area only covers 1700 hectares and is divided between the municipalities of Sa Pobla, north, and Muro, south, for the most part.
The Albufera Park is bordered on the east by the Ma-12 road which connects Alcúdia to Artà, which is built on the dunes that closes the lagoon. The lagoon empties into the Bay of Alcúdia by the Grand Canal (Grand Canal de S’Albufera) a place called Oberta, the mouth. Ma-12 road crosses the Grand Canal in Bridge of the English (Pont dels Anglesos), which is the entrance of the Natural Park.
The southern boundary of the park is near the village of Can Picafort, bordering the municipalities of Muro and Santa Margalida. At the western edge of the park follows the Canal des Polls, Can Blau from north to Sa Font de Son Sant Joan, in the south.
|The lagoon Albufera|
|S’Albufera lagoon the result of fluctuations in the level of the Mediterranean sea, in the geologic eras, from 18 million years, flooded then is removed from the plain of Sa Pobla (Pla de Sa Pobla) and even the entire plain of Mallorca (Pla de Mallorca). During the last ice age, there are about 100,000 years, formed the current wetland. The sandy coastal strip, which has given its present appearance in the lagoon is more recent: it was created by ocean currents over the last 10,000 years.|
The limits of the Albufera lagoon have varied over the time during high water in the last 10,000 years, the lagoon reached the north, the city of Pollentia and areas Es Murterar and Sa Fe, where now is the road to Palma to Alcúdia. The wetland reaches its greatest depth (7 or 8 m) in the pond Bridges (estany dels Ponts), in the north of the lagoon.
The lagoon is fed by precipitation of a water catchment area of 640 km² routed to S’Albufera by seasonal rivers, the "torrents": northwest, rainwater from the Serra de Tramuntana are collected by the Torrent de Sant Miquel, which rises near the Lluc Monastery, which owes its name to the hermitage of Sant Miquel, near which it passes Campanet, south, water from the center of Mallorca, the Torrent de Muro, groundwater sources, locally called "ullals" also pour water aquifers in the lagoon. Coastal bar, consisting of dunes, prevents the direct output of fresh water to the sea, the water is retained to form large flooded areas, where sediments accumulate. In some places, as S’Oberta, water finds a way out. In times of low rainfall during the summer months, it is the salty waters of the Bay of Alcúdia entering in small quantities in the Albufera lagoon.
This variable mixture of fresh and salt water is the origin of the different forms of wetlands - depending on salinity, water depth and the nature of the soil - which are the ecological wealth S’Albufera. The wide variety of plant species that provide shelter and food to a variety of animals, which in turn are food for many other animals, made to Albufera site with the greatest biodiversity all the Balearic Islands. The almost permanent flooding of much of the lagoon provides favorable conditions for the growth of vegetation conditions, the vegetation is growing steadily, as algae, aquatic plants, reeds dense grassland and gorse, wood shores. Vegetation releases oxygen and absorbs nutrients, while cleaning the water excess minerals that accumulate during its cycle. The vegetation provides food and shelter for wildlife, who benefits in a thousand ways, from the smallest insect that sucks the sap of the reeds, until beef imposing that swallows every day dozens of kilos of grass. The animals are also resources for other animals: the mosquito that bites livestock will be eaten by a toad, which is itself the victim of a snake, which will eventually turn eaten by a plume.
Men also attended the marshes S’Albufera, from time immemorial, to remove economic resources: hunting and fishing, first, then the rice, to feed, salt for preserving the foods, herbs to feed livestock; cane and reed materials used for manufacturing various products. Human activity to exploit the marsh, over time, halved the area of wetlands.
The Roman city of Pollentia, located near the present Port d’Alcúdia, was already a port with a beautiful harbor that could accommodate the imperial fleet. The water level should be at the time, 2 to 3 meters higher than today, and the Albufera lagoon reached the vicinity of Pollentia. The marsh water game was very popular with the Romans, Pliny reports that the night herons and White-winged Scoters were considered de Mallorca to Rome as a delicacy. A few centuries later the Moors established in Alcúdia (the "hill" in Arabic), and he knew the lagoon left the Arabic name al Buhaira.
After the Catalan conquest in the early thirteenth century, the northern part of the lagoon was part of the royal domain, while the southern part is situated on the estate of Count Hug Empúries. This division still survives today, with the north on the town of Sa Pobla (in the County of Raiguer) and the south on the town of Muro (in the county of Pla de Mallorca).
In the seventeenth century began the work of draining the marshes in order to fight against malaria and expand agricultural land, canals were dug and cultivated plots were created, which were called "marjales".
More ambitious drainage works were undertaken from a royal decree in 1851 after several initiatives (Ferragut channel), development work was entrusted to an English company, the New Majorca Land Company, founded by engineers John Frederic William Bateman and Hope, two major channels were dug: the canal des Sol, extension of the Torrent de Muro, and canal de Sa Siurana extension Torrent de Sant Miquel. Roads were laid and bridges built, including the "Bridge of English". Drainage of flooded areas was improved by the use of hydraulic pumps, powered by a steam engine. These gigantic works employed 1,500 workers from across Mallorca, and allowed the drying of more than 2000 hectares of land. However - due to water ingress sea - only 400 hectares could be used for agriculture, the others being rendered infertile by the presence of salt: the British company went bankrupt in 1892. Later, a farm rice moved S’Albufera, but the low price of rice, and a catastrophic flood in 1906, led to his ruin. A paper mill, located in the building of the former hydraulic pump Sa Roca, then produced paper - from reed leaves - until the 1950s.
The most serious of the lagoon S’Albufera damage occurred in the second half of the twentieth century, with the tourist boom of the 1960s, major hotel areas were established in the northern part of the lagoon and along the coast. The construction of the thermal power plant of Es Murterar led to the use of water ponds of Es Cibollar and Es Columbars for cooling facilities and the construction of power lines still dangerous for birds. This provoked an awareness for the conservation of the lagoon, which led to the acquisition in 1985 of 830 acres of wetlands by the Community of the Balearic Islands, which were declared a nature reserve, with the aim of creating a natural park.
|The S’Albufera Natural Park|
|In 1988 the Albufera Nature Reserve become the first Natural Park of the Balearic Islands, and was declared a Special Area for birds (SPA) Protection (Zona d’Especial Protecció per a les Aus (SPAB) / Zona de Especial Prottección para las Aves (SPAB)), which means that measures must be taken to avoid damage to the habitat or other disturbances that could affect birds.|
In 1989, the Albufera Natural Park was listed in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (with particular reference to waterbirds), better known as the Ramsar Convention (Iran, 1971).
The protected area covers 1646 hectares of wetlands and dunes. It should be noted that on 3 November 2000, the region had to suffer a fire which spread over 450 hectares, of which 440 were part of the Natural Park. Fortunately, this took place outside the nesting period and the ecological consequences were not too serious.
One of the priorities of the management of the Park is to preserve the quantity and quality of water. That is why the main channels are periodically dredged and priests, cleaned the dikes and water flow controlled by valves. Several physical and chemical parameters of water are analyzed each month. The opening of open bodies of water (lakes without reeds) and diversification of habitats is through herds of cows and Majorcan Camargue horses.
The park is open to the public: observation huts were set up for visitors, from which they can observe the birds without disturbing them.
|The entrance of the park|
|The entrance of the Natural Park is just next to the English Bridge (Pont dels Anglesos), where the coastal road crosses the Grand Canal S’Albufera, about 6 km southeast of Alcúdia.|
|The Grand Canal (Grand Canal)|
|From the entrance of the Natural Park you reach the Welcome Centre Sa Roca along a dirt road that runs along the Grand Canal in the Albufera, the Grand Canal is the confluence of the canal de Sa Siurana, which extends the Torrent Sant Miquel and the Canal des Sol, which extends the Torrent de Muro. Three bridges cross the Grand Canal: the Bridge of the English, near the mouth, also called Pont de Ses Comportes or Pont de Ses Casetes, Bridge and Santa Margalida Bridge Sa Roca, near the visitor center.|
|The Home Center Sa Roca (Recepció Center / Centro de Recepción)|
|The Visitor Sa Roca (The Rock) Centre is about 600 meters from the park entrance, it can only be reached by foot or bicycle.|
The center distributes permits to visit the park, brochures general information about the park, as well as lists of birds that can be seen at the time of the visit. It can also borrow binoculars for bird watching. A showroom can become familiar with species identification.
The Visitor Centre also has an annex building, the Can Bateman, who was originally the building housing a hydraulic bilge pumps, and later a paper mill making paper from reed leaves. The Can Bateman houses an audiovisual exhibition on the Albufera Natural Park.
|The marsh of S’Albufera is drained by artificial canals, dug by man of the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. The largest of these ditches are Gran Canal de S’Albufera, the Canal de Sa Siurana and the Canal des Sol in the center of the park Canal D’en Pujol runs through the park from north to south, and the Canal des Polls can be found on its western border, the Canal de Molines and the Canal D’en Pep in the south.|
|Trails and Huts Observation Park|
|The Albufera Natural Park four paths discovery trails. Along these paths are built - in the vicinity of water points - five huts (Aguait) (Sa Roca, Es Cibollar, Es Columbars), two platforms (Es Cibollar and Ses Puntes) and a tower, allowing observation birds.|
|The Albufera Natural Park to include a large number of different plant species, over 400 species, which are divided according to the nature and soil salinity, and depth and salinity.|
Where fresh water is predominant (brown areas on the map) the vegetation is dominated by common reed (Phragmites australis) (canyet), the Twigrush or sawgrass marshes (Cladium mariscus) and, to a lesser extent, by cattail (Typha sp.), especially bulrush-cattail (Typha latifolia), rushes (Juncus sp.) (bova), Ravenna cane (Saccharum ravennae) (cesquera).
Other plants that live submerged in the waters of channels: pondweed leaves comb or sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus), the submerged hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum) and various types of Chara (Characeae). At the surface of the channels are the duckweed (Lemna spp.) And the amphibian cress (Rorippa amphibia).
|On the banks of channels (purple on the map) is often a riparian forest (or riparian) with tree species tolerant of saltworks soils: the elm (Ulmus minor), the white poplar (Populus alba) and tamarisk (Tamarix africana).|
In their shadows grow the hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), the burr wood (Rubus fruticosus), the deformed periwinkle (Vinca difformis) and creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans). On open land bordering the reeds there is a large number of wild flowers, such as cattails, rushes (Scirpoides holoschoenus), plantain (Plantago sp.) And orchids (Orchidaceae) which bloom in April and May, including the marsh orchid (Orchis palustris ssp robusta), Mediterranean orchid is only found in three places: S’Albufera, a site in Algeria and Morocco site.
Brackish waters near the sea (gray areas on the map) are favorable environment for samphire (Sarcocornia sp. Arthrocnemum and sp.) And immortal (Helichrysum sp.).
|Dunes on the bar that separates the lagoon from the sea (mid-green on the map), there are arénophiles species such as sea lilies (Pancratium maritimum), the tomentose germander (Teucrium polium) marram grass (Ammophila arenaria), the passerine (Thymelaea velutina), juniper oxycèdre bur (oxycedrus Juniperus macrocarpa).|
On the coastal strip of forest (dark green areas of the plan) pushes the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), and, below, the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), heather many-flowered (Erica multiflora), the Sarsaparilla (Smilax sp.).
We should also mention the mushrooms, about 200 species have been recorded in the park, including halophilic psathyrelle (Psathyrella halofila), the species was discovered in 1992 and S’Albufera that can not be found anywhere else.
|The fauna of the lagoon S’Albufera de Mallorca is also abundant and diverse, but it is especially the birdlife is remarkable and motivated protect a Albufera Natural Park. More than two thirds of the bird species in the archipelago of the Balearic Islands have been identified S’Albufera, about 270 different species.|
Of these 270 species must be distinguished breeding species (about 60) that breed in the lagoon, either because they are permanent residents or because they are summering and go south in autumn after breeding. The third group is the species that overwinter S’Albufera to head back to northern Europe in the spring. The last group is the passage migrants who make a short stop for a few days during their migration journey to the north in spring, south in the fall. Some species are partially migratory wintering and passage part.
|Among sedentary breeding, there is the mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos), the coot (Fulica atra), the moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), the little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), the Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), the water rail (Rallus aquaticus), the yellow-legged gull (Larus ridibundus), the Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala), the hoopoe (Upupa epops), the tarier Africa (Saxicola torquatus) of Cetti’s warbler (Cettia cetti), the cisticola rushes (Cisticola juncidis), the moustached warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon), the firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla), the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), the great tit (Parus major), more rarely blue tit (Parus caeruleus or Cyanistes caeruleus), the canary (Serinus Serinus), the greenfinch (Chloris chloris), the Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), the Linnet (Carduelis cannabina). The red-crested pochard (Netta Rufina), the Crested Coot (Fulica cristata), the Gallinule Sultana Sultana or Hen (Porphyrio Porphyrio) and the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) that had disappeared, were reintroduced.|
Some species of birds of prey are also sedentary the marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), the rare peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and osprey (Pandion haliaetus).
|Among the breeding summer visitors who migrate south after the breeding completed, there is the little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), the stilt (Himantopus himantopus), the purple heron (Ardea purpurea), Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), the swifts (Apus apus), the yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava), the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), the reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), the gray flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), the shrike-headed (Lanius senator).|
As a bird of prey, only the Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae) is summering.
|Overwintering are migratory and wintering S’Albufera before heading north in the spring, and each year more than 10,000 individuals belonging to 170 species overwinter here, the most common species are the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), the gray heron (Ardea cinerea), the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the wigeon (Anas penelope), the teal (Anas crecca), the shoveler (Anas clypeata), the pochard (Aythya ferina), the lapwing (Vanellus Vanellus), the stint (Calidris minuta), the snipe (Gallinago Gallinago), the common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), the black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus or Larus ridibundus), the martin Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the skylark (Alauda arvensis), swallow rocks (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), the meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis), the Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta), the gray wagtail (Motacilla alba), the familiar robin (Erithacus rubecula), the song thrush (Turdus philomelos), the Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), single-colored starling (Sturnus unicolor), the reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), the sparrow willy (Emberiza cirlus) and large colonies of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).|
Rarer are the Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) and barker (Tringa nebularia).
|The migrating birds do arise, for a short time, only to rest and feed, there are around forty species, the most common are: Cory’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), the gray heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the gray heron (Ardea cinerea), the summer teal (Anas querquedula), the little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius), ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula), the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), in part, the little stint (Calidris minuta) in part, Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus), the ruff (Philomachus pugnax), the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), bluegill (Tringa erythropus), the redshank (Tringa totanus), the barker (Tringa nebularia), the Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), the Sylvan (Tringa glareola), the common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), the black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus), the whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida), the Black Tern (Chlidonias Niger), the swifts (Apus apus), the pallid swift (Apus pallidus) the swift white-bellied (Tachymarptis melba), the swallow (Riparia riparia), Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica), the Swallow (Delichon rustica), the black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), the redstart in white forehead (Phoenicurus), the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), the wheatear (Oenanthe Oenanthe), the Whitethroat (Sylvia communis), the willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), the Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca).|
There are some rare migratory species: the curlew (Numenius arquata), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), the Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus), the white stork (Ciconia ciconia), the black stork (Ciconia nigra), the common crane (Grus grus).
|Among the reptiles the most common species are: viper snake (Natrix maura), the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) and some species of lizards. Measures are taken to fight against the invasion of the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Among amphibians are found in large quantities, the frog Pérez (Pelophylax perezi and Rana perezi).|
Of the 29 fish species recorded - most of marine origin - the most common are: the European eel (Anguilla eel), mullet (Liza Shelon sp and sp..), Perch (Percidae), European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), black goby (Gobius Niger), red mullet (Mugilidae) and bleak (Alburnus alburnus). Park fight against the pervasive presence of carp.
The Park of S’Albufera has 22 species of mammals, including many rodents and 8 species of bats, including the rare Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus).
Invertebrates are very numerous dragonflies, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths (over 450 species) and arachnids.
|The entrance the Natural Park Albufera de Mallorca is on the road Ma-12, between Platja d’Alcudia and Playa de Muro, at the English Bridge (Pont dels Anglesos) that crosses the Grand Canal.|
|Buses from Port d’Alcúdia in Ca’n Picafort stop near the park entrance. If you’re driving, Parc Natural, located next to the park entrance, offers parking courtesy to visitors of the park.|
Summer schedules Park (April to September): daily, 9:00 to 18:00.
Winter Park Hours (October to March): daily, 9:00 to 17:00.
Timetable Home Sa Roca Centre: 9:00 to 16:00, closed December 25 and January 1.
Phone: 00 34 971 892 250
Entry fee: The tour is free but it is mandatory to go through the Welcome Center to request a visitor’s permit.
Motor vehicles are prohibited in the park: you can walk or bike.
|The Grupotel Parc Natural|
|This luxury hotel is located to the left of the entrance of the Natural Park, at the edge of the mouth of the Grand Canal de S’Albufera offers magnificent views of the National Park and the Bay of Alcúdia. Restaurant overlooking the sea, pool and spa.|
Open from late April to October.
Phone: 00 34 971 892 017