Storks, geese, starlings, common loons, bitterns, lagoon eaglets, bee-eaters, swallows… hundreds of birds fly gently across the lake at Pitillas, creating a real natural mosaic whose colours, movements and sounds will transport you to a world of soothing sensations.
This natural area, situated 60 kilometres south of Pamplona and three kilometres from Pitillas, in the Central Zone of Navarre, is a Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area for Birds and a Wetland of International Importance, which gives an idea of its exceptional environmental value. Three self-guided hiking paths allow the visitor to get a better idea of this 216-hectare natural reserve.
There is also an observatory, with photographic and audiovisual material on the natural characteristics of the lake, which is an excellent lookout point from which you can watch the movements of the birds.
Come and discover the secret life concealed within this steppe-type lake, the most northerly of the Iberian Peninsula and one of the areas with the greatest concentration of birdlife.
At the bottom of the mountain range of Ujué, three kilometres to the south-east of Pitillas in the midst of a steppe-type landscape, springs the wetland lake (laguna) of Pitillas, the largest natural reservoir in Navarre with a surface area of 216 hectares and a maximum depth of three metres. Visible from the tarmacked road, access is by a track after passing through Pitillas, at kilometre 4.
The nature reserve offers shelter to around a hundred species, which represent almost a third of those that can be observed in Navarre, and this makes it the second most important natural reservoir in Navarre in terms of the diversity of nesting birds, and the leading stopping off point for migratory birds.
The origin of the lake is natural, but over the centuries it has been modified by human hand. From ancient times it was used to accumulate water for irrigation purposes and in the 16th century a dam was built. In the 1960s it was drained to be given over to crop growing, but the extreme dryness of the area and the saltiness of the earth meant that it was left to evolve naturally from 1976 onwards.
The pool, which is fed by rainwater that collects in the gullies coming down from the Sierra de Ujué, is largely covered by bulrushes and reeds. Its ecological importance, however, lies in the constant presence of colonies of birds. Winter visitors include mallards, gadwalls, widgeons, red shovelers, pochards, teals, coots, lagoon eaglets and harriers and geese.
Between March and June the following birds nest in the reed beds: grey herons, purple herons, mallards, gadwalls, pochards and lagoon eaglets. There is also an important colony of great bitterns, lapwings, black-winged stilts and great reed warblers. The fauna is rounded off by amphibians, reptiles and insects on which the birds feed, but there are also weasels, badgers, genets, foxes and wild boars in the area.
A bird observatory stands on a hill overlooking the lake, where information panels and graphic and audiovisual material provide information on its natural characteristics.
There are also binoculars and telescopes for identifying birds, together with guides that help the visitor follow the three self-guided itineraries. The first of these, one kilometre long, allows you to discover the birdlife and vegetation that is typical of the wetlands, the second (5 kilometres long) shows the gullies that feed the lake and the human activities relating to it, and the third links the lake with the village of Pitillas through a 3-kilometre walk.
Any season of the year is a good time to visit this natural area, but if you are interested in observing birds the winter is best; and from March to June it is recommended that you take alternative routes so as not to disturb the birds and their chicks. Between spring and August you can enjoy the elegant flight of the purple herons with their red and black plumage, while in May the deep lowing sound of the bitterns can be heard at nightfall.
After a day in the heart of nature, you can visit the Castle of Olite which is close by, as are the Monastery de la Oliva and the medieval village of Ujué, where you can sample the typical “migas de pastor” (a breadcrumb and chorizo dish).
- Locality: Pitillas
- Zone: The Central Zone
- Web: www.lagunadepitillas.org
- Email: email@example.com
- Tel: 619463450
- Protected area : Reserva Natural
- Distance from AMALUR ETXEA: 68,3 km.