Rivers and Waters
The Arroyo de Boquerón and the Arroyo de Capitán are the two sole watercourses of the stage, similar in a way, as both flow into the shallow ends of reservoirs; the first one flows into the Guadalhorce and the second into the Guadalteba. Neither of them harbour any wellpreserved galleried woods, only some tamarisk and elm, and, above all, brambles, reeds and bulrushes.
The vegetation perimeter around the lakes which can be visited by tourists has been strengthening over time thanks to the lakes being protected. The vegetation belt is very narrow though, due to the harsh environmental conditions that cause cycles of floods and drought, the relentless wind and the saline nature of the soil. In those lagoons with extensive water surface and little depth it is easy to observe thickets of tamarisk of varying density, a plant which is a real specialist in this type of habitat. The bulrush require deeper water, which they conquer with their thick runners, while the reeds colonize veryextensive areas, at times reaching a tangled mass of stems which potentially offers a good hideout for wildlife.
Flamingos can be easily observed during the season when they turn into resident birds at the lagoons, as well as the Purple Heron, various Egrets, Coots and Moorhens with their dark plumage which are the most abundant along with ducks. Finally, the waders wander along muddy shores deploying a whole repertoire of hunting tactics.
The reservoirs on the other hand battle with the problem of considerable differences in water level so that the vegetation can become non-existent in many areas: at the dam end of the reservoirs, on steep inclines or on rocky ground, as you will see during this stage. At the tip of Guadalteba, Guadalhorce and Conde de Guadalhorce reservoirs (especially at the latter two) there are dense clusters of tamarisk at the deltas of the Guadalhorce and the Turón. The reservoirs have settled as aquatic ecosystems as a result of human action which did not particularly aim for this result.
Although the track does not reach the Gaitanejo reservoir, which is located below the three dams, note that it maintains more constant water levels thanks to being regulated and thus it has managed to sustain a diverse galleried wood with the tamarisk being the dominant tree.
Stage 19 is the last of the series of stages where farmland is the main type of environment and the next stages become more mountainous. Stage 19 still passes through olive groves and grain fields however its special feature are a group of lagoons, Lagunas de Campillos, and pine tree formations, which together convert this part of the walk into a mosaic of landscapes accompanied by an interested variety of birds.
In the centre of Campillos you will have a chance to see urban species, principally Eurasian Collared Dove, Common and Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, plus Common Kestrel, European Turtle Dove, and Common Starling around the industrial estate located in the outskirts. Once you leave these buildings behind you will enter cultivated fields and olive groves where Red-legged Partridge, Song Thrush, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Common Blackbird, European Robin, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Common Linnet and Corn Bunting are the most common species. Although Little Bustard is chosen as target species of all of Stage 19, and indeed it can be observed during the route, a good spot to enjoy this species is around Laguna Dulce very close to the starting point.
The presence of large scattered pine trees are the reminder of what the area must have looked like before the land was ploughed and turned into farmland. These trees produce such species as Common Buzzard, Coal Tit and Raven.
The group of lagoons you will be visiting are, in walking order, El Cerero, Laguna de Camuñas and la Marcela; these are areas which constitute true oases for water birds in an environment dominated by dry crop farming. The most common species in these wetlands are Little Grebe, Eared (Black-necked) Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe, Green and Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, White and Yellow Wagtail, and Meadow Pipit. Moreover, Cranes can be seen in the surroundings in winter months.
In the pine wood, before you cross the Arroyo del Boquerón, such birds could appear as the Common Wood Pigeon, European Turtle Dove, Hoopoe, Greenfinch, Serin, Crossbill and Common Chaffinch, whilst in the scrubland, before the downhill section leading towards the reservoirs, you can fairly easily find Crested Lark, Stonechat, European Robin, Song Thrush and Sardinian Warbler.
During migration periods in this part of Stage 19, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, and good numbers of Bee-eaters tend to be seen flying overhead; neither is it uncommon to see Griffon Vulture, Bonelli´s Eagle and Peregrine Falcon in flight, frequenting the area in search for food.
Once you reach the end of the stage at the foot of the reservoirs, water birds become the focus again, even though the depth of the Embalses limits the diversity of species, mainly to Little Black-backed, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Mallard, Little and Eared (Black-necked) Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron and Coot.