Spanish ecologist Fernando González Bernáldez said that wetland is the place where you can dip your legs in the water but you cannot really dip all your body or have a swim. According to this definition, wetland includes thicket beside streams, irrigation ditches, humid meadows and even irrigated crops. These areas, which are often close to the shore, help the Castal Path be more diverse.
Beaches, shores, coast and wetland are not consistent. They go through temporary changes, which can be seasonal or spatial, and turn these habitats into the most productive and the richest in biodiversity.
Wildlife and especially birds find many resources on the coast. The coast embraces land which emerged from the water and is covered by ecosystems, such as pine forest and groves of cork oaks, and, right next to them, dunes covered in peculiar plant life which adapts to changeable terrain.
There are also areas between the sea and the land, such as shores with hypersaline emerged land (the salt became more concentrated after the water from the waves was dried by the sun), areas affected by tide or the submerged ones.
Finally, the sea is another important habitat where living organisms must confront different conditions regarding light and pressure; they must swim, float, they are taken away by water, or they settle and stay at the bottom. Deep-sea area is the most important for sea birds as they look for food, together with the intertidal zone where waders or shorebirds seek for food.
The change of seasons also affects coastal dynamics, and of course, birds. Water currents and water density, which are both influenced by the temperature rise or fall, create places where the food is provided for sea creatures and those who depend on them. Storms and thermoclines are connected with the appearance of some birds as well as with the scenery created by the water colour changes close to the shore.
The situation is rather different in the wetland. There is a zone which is visited by different kinds of birds. The terrestrial ecosystem, marshy ground (reedbed, rush, bulrush, willow grove, tamarix species, etc.), more or less muddy shores, and shallow or deep flooded areas shelter varied kinds of birds.
Ducks and the Anatidae family of birds which are adapted for swimming, or floating on the water surface, usually do not go to deep water as they cannot reach the underwater plants to feed themselves. These birds do not dive, but only dip their heads or half of their body into the water, so they stay in shallow zones. In deep water areas you can see diving ducks, which can get to the bottom, as well as seabirds which hunt fish such as different kinds of grebes.
There are rails on the shores, birds with long legs and feet that hide in wetland, and have mastered the art of disappearing in the reedbeds. And on the open land, on the muddy shore, you can find waders, which eat small animals from the mud. They vary in the size of their legs and the shape of their beaks, which allows them to explore many different holes and benefit from all the advantages of the wetland.
Other kind of waders, called herons, can also be found in different zones. The bigger ones are on the shores or in the reedbeds. The smaller ones hide among trees that surround the wetland. Some can also be found on the surrounding land and use other kind of food. On the land which is connected to the wetland, there are diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey that depend on water creatures.
The wetland goes through changes caused by weather or seasons. Rain and summer heat influence on the level of water. This is good for migratory birds and their reproduction like in the case of flamingos, which need to be in water in order to reproduce successfully. During the years with a longer rainy season, which cannot be easily forecast, more migratory species can be found.
The Málaga Coastal Path gives a visitor the opportunity to see the above and plenty of other spectacular natural phenomena which attract tourists and birders from numerous countries, and compose a quality and sustainable tourist supply. Places such as the mouth of the Guadalhorce, the one of the Vélez River and the mouths of the Guadalmina River and the Cancelada Lake or the coast viewpoints, such as the one in Calaburras, are natural tourist attractions which can be admired by local people and visitors.
The following chart shows the birds that can be seen along the Málaga Coastal Path. Click on its name for more details.