Copses along the River Ebro
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The river banks along the middle reaches of the Ebro River in La Rioja Baja are home to the Sotos de Alfaro Nature Reserve, a unique ecosystem of forests and wild birds nestled beside the river. Come and lose yourself in the wilderness and relax in the shade of its trees while enjoying a spot of bird watching.
The course of the river digresses sharply here, creating and destroying meanders, islets and beaches. Flooded groves form unique wildernesses of black and white poplars, willows, ashes and alders in which you can see storks, herons, cormorants, blackbirds, kites, hoopoes and kingfishers, among others.
If you look down at the water you may spot a European mink or an otter. And if you keep very still, you may see foxes, rabbits and wild boars. The La Duquesa and Morales groves are particularly beautiful and contain a diverse range of riverbank wildlife.
In Soto de Estajao there is a circular trail that takes you to the heart of a flooded river grove. Keep your eyes open because this is the best place to see all the birds and trees contained in this unique environment. You will almost certainly want to stop for lunch in its picnic area, set right in the middle of this natural paradise.
Of all the species that inhabit the copses, the stork is the undisputed king, with hundreds of specimens nesting in the region. Do you want to visit them at home? Take a trip to the Roman, baroque and renaissance town of Alfaro (known also for its delicious vegetable dishes), where more than one hundred pairs of storks have taken over the roof of the San Miguel Collegiate Church.
In addition to the architectural beauty of this 17th century building, which has been declared a National Historical-Artistic Monument, it is also known for the hundreds of storks that nest on its roof and fly around the city perching to rest on chimneys and rooftops everywhere. In the summertime, when the older chicks begin to fly, the church may house over 400 birds.
In the Sotos de ALfaro Nature Reserve Visistors Centre, located opposite the church, you will discover that it is impossible to get lost in your rambles around the groves. Furthermore, you will also be afforded a closer look at the church storks, thanks to the remote-controlled camera installed on the roof. Enjoy nature up close.
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