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Great birding on an old Roman bridge that is closed for traffic in the center of town. More than 140 birdspecies have been seen here.
Birding in the middle of a city doesn’t sound very attractive. But you should make an exception for the beautiful Puente Romano in Merida. This old Roman bridge crosses the river Guadiana in the heart of the city. With it’s 790 metres, it is the longest surviving Roman bridge in the world. Birding on the pedestrianised bridge is really great. More than 140 species have been seen here and there are birds everywhere you look. The habitats along the banks of the river includes reedbeds, scrub and waterside woodland. Within the river are a couple of wooded islands that are good for roosting egrets and herons, including Black-crowned Night Heron and Glossy Ibis. The birds forage on the banks of this very fish-rich river. Little Bittern is very common here. Penduline Tit lives in the vegetation on the banks and if you are lucky you can see them up very close. But they are not abundant, so you still have to be a bit lucky to find them. Great Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler are easier to find. Also plenty of Purple Swamphen in the reeds. Very special are the Alpine Swift that sometimes even fly beneath you under the arches of the bridge. You can really admire their huge size.
Parking is best at the Parking José Fdz López (note: this is an underground parking and only accessible for normal cars). Click on the P on the map to get directions. From the parking you can walk to the river through a park (with sometimes nice flycatchers and redstarts along the way), and walk along the banks while passing some colonies of herons and a fine opportunity for making nice birdpics. It’s about a 15 minute walk to the bridge, but all the birds you see underway may delay you a lot :-).
It’s good to keep in mind that there is no shadow on the bridge, so it can get very hot in the middle of the day. Luckily you’ll find plenty of shade on the banks of the river. If you want to walk longer, you can do the walk to the islands in the middle of the river. Views are not as good as from the Roman bridge, but the birding is still good.