The rains this fall have allowed the lagoons of the Villafáfila reserve to reach 60 percent of their volume, which has generated a substantial increase in the number of wintering birds compared to recent years, having registered more than 15,000 wintering birds in mid-November and this number is expected to increase significantly in this month of December and January, which is when the highest concentrations of birds are reached in this area.
The Junta de Castilla y León, through the Ministry of the Environment, as it has been doing every year during these dates, encourages all citizens to visit, know and enjoy “one of the most important environmental jewels of the peninsula and that accumulates a higher density of birds “.
The geographical situation in which the “Lagunas de Villafáfila” are found make it a “vantage point” on the migratory routes of hundreds of bird species, which travel from all over Europe to Doñana, North Africa and the great coastal areas of Mauritania. This is the reason for the large concentrations of wintering birds that occur at this time in the nature reserve.
At this time, the most abundant species in the Reserve are the mallard and lapwings, which presented almost 5,000 specimens each in mid-November, although the most emblematic species is the common goose, popularly known in the area as pata grande ( traditional name of the species that also coincides with the Portuguese name).
Traditionally they wintered in the area in numbers of several tens of thousands, but the changes in their wintering habits mean that more and more of them remain in winter in Scandinavia and Holland and fewer that go down to our latitudes. In the November census, 1,000 copies were counted, but it is expected that this month their number will increase significantly. Along with the common geese, almost 1,500 cranes have been counted.
You can also see large quantities of shoveler, common teal, wigeon and frieze, white jar, common and tufted pochard, coots, gulls; in smaller numbers there are also egrets, grebes, common sandpipers, common archibebe, black-tailed needle, avocet and gray heron.
As curious species that have been found in the Reserve this year, it is worth noting the presence of a specimen of the Red-crowned crane or Japanese crane. This species is cataloged in danger of extinction, with less than 3,000 specimens in the wild in Asia or the presence of a specimen of the thick-billed phalarope, a species that only appears in our country occasionally.
The best times to see the great concentration of fauna in the lagoons are at noon and at dusk, since at these times geese and cranes generally enter the lagoons to nap and sleep. The best places for observation are the three observatories built by the Junta de Castilla y León in terms of Revellinos, Villafáfila and Villarrín, especially the one located in the town of Otero de Sariegos (Villafáfila municipality).
The highest concentrations of birds are reached between November and February, but the greatest diversity of species is achieved between April and June. Along with this great variety of birds associated with water, the Reserve is home to a different community of birds all year round, colonizing the wide open and dry spaces; These are the steppe birds, among them the great bustard (Otis dela), which maintains the largest population in the world here. And to further enrich, if possible, all the species of birds mentioned, it is necessary to add in the open areas of this Tierra de Campos concentrations of about 80,000 wintering birds (mainly larks) and a wide range of birds of prey, which they have here their nesting and nesting habitat.
In the center of the Reserve is located the grounds of the House of the Park, where there is a building equipped with modern means of interpretation and surrounded by a 23-hectare wildlife park where you can easily observe aquatic fauna in three lagoons and an area of steppe birds that is home to a small group of bustards, easily observable by the public.
The large size of the facilities makes it possible to make the presence of the public compatible with the security measures established for COVID, there are disinfectant gels at the entrance of the facilities and in all the observatories of the enclosure, with quotas to ensure the distance. However, as in any other venue in these circumstances, the Board warns of the necessary collaboration of all visitors to avoid any risk of contagion.