S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’Albufera des Grau was declared a Natural Park by virtue of Decree 50/1995, of 4 May, after years of local social efforts to protect the area. In 2003 the Park’s limits were expanded to cover a total surface area of 5,006.7 hectares, between its waters and its land, and the five islets were declared Nature Reserves (Addaia islands, s’Estany, Bassa de Morella, es Prat and the Illa d’en Colom) in an effort to conserve particularly sensitive places of vast natural and ecological interest.

Moreover, virtually the entire area sits within a Natural Area of Special Interest, forms part of the Natura 2000 Network and comprises the nucleus of the Biosphere Reserve. This protected natural environment includes vastly diverse habitats with varying degrees of human intervention: wetlands, agricultural and livestock areas, forests, a coastline of cliffs and beaches, islets and a marine area.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This schedule will be maintained throughout the year.Visitors are invited to view the Parks permanent exhibit, “S’Albufera des Grau, the Nucleus of the Biosphere Reserve“, on display at the reception centre.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

  • Please remain on the marked trails and specially adapted paths, and move about quietly, so as not to disturb the other visitors and the animals.
  • Please bear in mind that most of the Park is private property and that there are several farms and cattle ranches that must not be disturbed.
  • Authorisation is required for organized tours or groups of more than 25 people.
  • Please do not walk on the dunes. The use of motor vehicles, bicycles or horses on the beaches and dunes is not permitted.
  • Please do not anchor boats in the Posidonia beds.
  • Unauthorized fires and camping are not permitted.
  • Please do not remove rocks or stones.
  • Please do not remove plants and do not disturb the animals.
  • Please do not bring pets through the main areas of strict protection and conservation, such as Favàritx and the area of S’Albufera.
-Please, consider that spear fishing is not allowed without authorization.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

(Català) El Parc natural de s’Albufera des Grau està situat a l’est de l’illa de Menorca, als termes municipals de Maó i Mercadal.Aquelles persones amb mobilitat reduïda poden sol·licitar una cadira Joëlette i s'acordarà la visita sempre que hi hagi voluntaris disponibles.

MAPA

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

Wild olive groves inhabit all of the Park’s inland areas, except for the wetlands and the coastal strip. Predominant in this thick and dense formation is the wild olive tree (Olea europaea var. sylvestris), which lives alongside species such as the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) and the privet (Phillyrea media), and on the driest, stony hills, the tree spurge (Euphorbia dendroides).Small stands of holm oak are usually found where the soil depth or the location allows for greater moisture, and the wetland areas accommodate hygrophilous plants.The beaches often boast well-developed dune vegetation, and the rocky coastline features the locally known socarrells, thorny pincushion-like shrubs that are shaped by the splashing sea and the wind. These shrubs form part of the plant communities with the greatest number of endemic species in Minorca.The Park also stands out for its diverse bird population. Found here are aquatic birds such as ducks, coots, and shags, and birds of prey such as the osprey, the red kite and the booted eagle.Among the reptiles and amphibians that live in the Park, mention must be made of the Balearic wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi), which is endemic to both Majorca and Minorca and found exclusively on the islets, where it has diversified, gradually evolving into different subspecies. There are also other interesting species such as the Balearic green toad, the European tree frog, the land and sea tortoises, the Italian wall lizard, the false smooth snake and the ladder snake.The Park’s mammals include carnivorous species such as the weasel and the pine marten, insect-eating mammals like the hedgehog and the shrew, as well as rodents like the garden dormouse.Within the limits of the Park is a strip of sea with different types of sea floors. Predominant in the soft-bottom areas are the Posidonia prairies. Other aquatic plant communities live in narrow and shallow coves. These include the Cymodocea and Zoostera, which are scarce in the Mediterranean. Yet there are also rocky seafloors with interesting seaweed communities. Both of these seafloors accommodate different fish and invertebrate species.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

Wild olive groves inhabit all of the Park’s inland areas, except for the wetlands and the coastal strip. Predominant in this thick and dense formation is the wild olive tree (Olea europaea var. sylvestris), which lives alongside species such as the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) and the privet (Phillyrea media), and on the driest, stony hills, the tree spurge (Euphorbia dendroides).Small stands of holm oak are usually found where the soil depth or the location allows for greater moisture, and the wetland areas accommodate hygrophilous plants.The beaches often boast well-developed dune vegetation, and the rocky coastline features the locally known socarrells, thorny pincushion-like shrubs that are shaped by the splashing sea and the wind. These shrubs form part of the plant communities with the greatest number of endemic species in Minorca.The Park also stands out for its diverse bird population. Found here are aquatic birds such as ducks, coots, and shags, and birds of prey such as the osprey, the red kite and the booted eagle.Among the reptiles and amphibians that live in the Park, mention must be made of the Balearic wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi), which is endemic to both Majorca and Minorca and found exclusively on the islets, where it has diversified, gradually evolving into different subspecies. There are also other interesting species such as the Balearic green toad, the European tree frog, the land and sea tortoises, the Italian wall lizard, the false smooth snake and the ladder snake.The Park’s mammals include carnivorous species such as the weasel and the pine marten, insect-eating mammals like the hedgehog and the shrew, as well as rodents like the garden dormouse.Within the limits of the Park is a strip of sea with different types of sea floors. Predominant in the soft-bottom areas are the Posidonia prairies. Other aquatic plant communities live in narrow and shallow coves. These include the Cymodocea and Zoostera, which are scarce in the Mediterranean. Yet there are also rocky seafloors with interesting seaweed communities. Both of these seafloors accommodate different fish and invertebrate species.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

The Park houses a number of well-conserved agroforestry communities, where human activity has fostered vast plant and animal biodiversity. These communities consist of extensive pastures for cattle and sheep, fields of forage and winter grains for the cattle, fallow fields, and wild olive groves.Together, these different areas form a mosaic landscape where the diversity of the habitats promotes the coexistence of many species of flora along with their associated fauna. Thus, the biodiversity found here today is the result of a balance attained largely thanks to the constant local cattle-raising activity.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

  • Rodríguez Femenias Reception Center Ctra. de Maó a es Grau, km 3.5, desviació Llimpa, 07700 Maó, Illes Balears. Tel.: 971 17 77 05 / 609 601 249. Office hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
  • 2 observatories of birds.
  • House for investigators researchers Rodríguez Femenias.
  • Laboratory.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

People who are unable to access the area due to any physical or mental difficulties, can request to do the routes in a Jöelette chair. For more information see leaflet www.caib.esTo choose between the itineraries on offer, you can contact the Estate Information Point, they will suggest various options. (Contact phone number for the park: 971 18 10 22)To set a date for a visit, please contact the Red Cross volunteers, at least three weeks beforehand. (Red Cross helpline telephone number 971295000, 24hrs).The visit can be set as long as there are volunteers available.The loan of the chair is totally free.The Project is fully financed by “La Obra Social de La Caixa”.What are Jöelette chairs? They are a kind of all-terrain chair with just one wheel that allow people with reduced mobility to take part in excursions over rough terrain with the help of three or more people to lead the chair.Protected natural areas made more accessible The protected natural areas in the Balearic Islands offer many opportunities for us to enjoy nature, but access to them is impossible, in many cases, for people with reduced mobility. Now, the Jöelette chairs will allow people with reduced mobility to have first-hand contact with nature.An offer of 12 chairs. We have 12 Jöelette chairs that can be used in the protected natural areas of the Balearic Islands: eight chairs in Majorca, two in Minorca, and one in Ibiza and another in Formentera. And a group of volunteers has been formed to lead the chairs. Who can go on an excursion in a Joëlette chair? Any person, whether resident of the Islands or not, who cannot access the natural areas due to physical or mental difficulties can request an excursion in a Joëlette chair in the protected natural spaces of the Balearic Islands. The use of the Joëlette chairs is limited to people who weigh under 120kg.What itineraries can be done? The protected natural spaces of the Balearic Islands offer a wide selection of routes. Check which one is best both for its features and difficulty level as well as for the time of year. The staff of the protected natural spaces can give you extensive information in this regards.Requests In Majorca: Tel. 971 29 50 00 (24h), Red Cross in the Balearic Islands. In Minorca: Tel. 971 17 77 05 from 9am to 2pm Monday to Friday. In Ibiza and Formentera: tel. 971 30 14 60 from 9am to 2pm Monday to Friday. The request must be made at least three weeks before. Depending on the availability of the volunteers a date will be set for the excursion. If you have a team of people trained in driving Joëlette chairs, the availability of the chair/s will be confirmed when you put in the request. Education centres that book activities from those offered as educational resources by the natural protected areas can request the chairs, making a note in the inscription form of how many they will need. The use of the Joëlette chair is subject to availability of the drivers. The loan of the chair is totally free.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

       
  • Sa Gola
  •    
  • Santa Madrona
  •    
  • Mirador de cala Llimpa

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

Sa Gola

Dificultad:Low
Distancia:1.70 km
Duración:45 min
Requisitos:The trail is flat and can be followed on foot. There is access for visitors with limited mobility in the areas around Sa Gola
Recomendaciones:(Català) Es pot fer a peu. El camí és pla i els limítrofs de la zona de Sa Gola són accessibles per a persones amb mobilitat reduïda
Temática:Landscape, flora and fauna

Color:   

This trail runs through the Sa Gola canal and the dune area of the beach at Es Grau and is very pleasant in the summer, given the shade of the pine grove and its proximity to the sea.

Etapas

The itinerary begins in the parking area at the football field, which is located near the coastal community of Es Grau. From there, you will walk along the Maó-Es Grau road some 200 metres until you come to a turning to the right. Just there, amid the tamarisks, you will see a gate made of wild olivewood. If you are on a bicycle, you may leave it in this area. Sa Gola is the name of a small canal that connects S’Albufera des Grau with the sea. There is a stone bridge that crosses this canal just at the starting point of the itinerary. Beneath the bridge, you will see one of the sluice gates that regulate the flow of water between S’Albufera and the sea. Traditionally used for fishing purposes only, this system is now used for the conservation of the lagoon. The sluice gates make it possible to regulate the water levels (which are important for the survival of underwater plants), the salinity levels (which determine the composition of plankton and the macrophytes) and the connection with the sea (which is essential for the migration of fish). Needless to say, this ecosystem is ideal for a wide range of animal and plant species. This water management has become vital, as some of the springs that traditionally spilled into S’Albufera have dried up, due to the overexploitation of the S’Albaida aquifer in the municipal area of Alaior. The end result was a change in the annual patterns of S’Albufera.
Once past the stone bridge, you will come to a wooden walkway that protects the glasswort vegetation from foot traffic. This area is characterised by a very specific plant type that adapts well to the significant changes in the water and salinity levels. Particularly worthy of note are the glasswort (Arthrocnemum fruticosum), the sea purslane (Halimione portulacoides), the caspia (Limonium ferulaceum) and the golden samphire (Inula crithmoides), among others.
Follow the marked trail towards the lookout, and once you have passed the walkway, you will come to a short yet intense ascent that will take you up to the viewpoint, where you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of S’Albufera to the west, with the Sa Bassa Salada lagoon and the dune system to the north. S’Albufera des Grau has a surface area of approximately 70 hectares with a maximum depth of some 3 metres, and is surrounded by small hills that give it a sheltered appearance. This is no doubt one of the best places to enjoy the sunset. Sa Bassa Salada is a small saltwater lagoon that is isolated from S’Albufera. Some summers it turns red due to the presence of certain bacteria that produce reddish pigments when the lagoon is lacking oxygen.
As you come down from the lookout, if you look closely at the main wall, you will see the traditional dry-stone weir wall system that was once used for fishing. These structures were set up as pools that served to accumulate large numbers of fish, which were then caught through different fishing techniques. These constructions were added on to the bottleneck-shaped passageway located in the lagoon just before the connection with the sea. The fish were either channelled into the pools by the force of the freshwater streams that spilled into the lagoon, or they were drawn into them due to their need to spawn. In the latter case, they would swim up into a funnel-shaped wall system known as enfàs, which was connected to the fish weir system by means of several sluice gates. Only traditional eel fishing is allowed in the Albufera des Grau lagoon, yet the activity requires prior government authorisation.
You will now continue to follow the trail towards the beach, through the dune area, which has been fixed by vegetation. Decades ago, part of the savin grove in Es Grau was unsustainably cut down for lumber use purposes, as well as to build part of the town and the football field. Later on, the area was repopulated with pine trees. Today, you will see the recovery of the original plant life, including savins (Juniperus phoenicea ssp. turbinata), alaterns (Rhamnus alaternus) and a few young holm oaks (Quercus ilex). The savins are trees with shallow roots that hold the dune in place, cover a great deal of land and can make use of the water that filters through the dune or the little water that is retained in the sand. On the fixed dune it is not uncommon to see the black rat (Rattus rattus), which feeds on the tender pinecones. You might also see an occasional hedgehog (Atelerix algirus). Noteworthy among the birds found in this area are forest species, such as the turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and the great tit (Parus major). As to the reptiles, mention must be made of the Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni), which boasts one of the densest populations in the world here. The insect population in the area includes a small metallic bluish-greenish beetle that is endemic to the Balearic Islands, the Timarcha balearica. From here, you will move on towards the Bol Llarg, which is at the beach of Es Grau, where you will see the dune system. This is a highly fragile ecosystem given its mobility and the human stress to which it is subjected during the summer months. For this reason, a number of conservation measures have been taken, including the limitations of the bathing area and the redistribution of Posidonia, which acts as a sand trap. This management has enabled the dune system to recover considerably, while at the same time conserving the beach’s sand. In the dune area closest to the sea you will see a number of plants that have adapted perfectly to life on a highly unstable sandy surface that is prone to water loss. Among them are the sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum), the sea holly (Eryngium maritimum), sand couch grass (Elymus farctus) and marram grass (Ammophila arenaria).
Emerging in the Park’s flooded areas are the Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa sea grass meadows, marine phanerogams that serve a very important dual purpose. While the dead remains of these plants accumulate at the shore and protect the sand from the winter storms, the forked vines of the living plant help retain the sand, and the leaves mitigate the effects of the waves on the sandy sea floor. The marine area of the Park moreover features a wide variety of rock-dwelling seaweed communities. Particularly abounding here are those of the Cystoseira genus, which have suffered a great deal throughout the Mediterranean, as they are highly sensitive to excessive human traffic and pollution. To return from here, you can walk along the beach back to the Colònia des Grau, a residential area that has successfully conserved its Menorcan character.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

Santa Madrona

Dificultad:Low
Distancia:2,8 km
Duración:1 h
Requisitos:It must be done on foot
Recomendaciones:The best route to observe waterfowl

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This trail runs along the south-western coastline of S’Albufera des Grau, and is the Park’s best itinerary for aquatic bird watching, as it is very close to the lagoon and has a number of different lookouts and hides. We recommend taking it easy as you go along, making frequent long stops at the different points of interest.

Etapas

The itinerary begins in front of the reception and interpretation centre, which you may visit either before or after your outing. The centre offers visitors a permanent exhibition of the ecosystems found in S’Albufera des Grau, as well as an audiovisual projection on S’Albufera. This is also the starting point for guided tours and other activities offered in the Park. You may leave your car in the reception centre car park, and if you follow the road towards the lagoon, some 200 metres away, you will come to a roundabout with an olive tree in the middle. On the left-hand side of the roundabout, there is a wild olive wood gate and a small stone steps built into the wall, which you will have to climb over. Your outing begins here. Just as you begin the trail, you will see several open wooden bird-watching hides on your right, where you may enjoy a panoramic view over the cove, Cala de sa Font, without disturbing the birds. As you continue down the trail you will come to a fork in the road, where you will turn right. Just a few meters ahead you will see another fork, where you will turn right again. This path will take you out to the point, Punta de ses Ànedes.
When you get down to Punta de ses Ànedes, you will see two open wooden bird-watching hides on the left, as well as a full hut, also made of wood, in front of you, where you can watch the birds without them knowing that you are there. The birds you will see from here use the lagoon as a rest spot and a feeding ground. Some of these birds inhabit S’Albufera all year round (sedentary birds), whereas for others (migrating birds) it is merely a temporary residence. Among the migrating birds, we must point out those that come over from the north of Europe, which fill the lagoon between the months of November and February (wintering birds), and those from Africa that spend the summer here, to breed. The most easily spotted aquatic birds in the area are coots (Fulica atra), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), pochards (Aythya ferina), gray herons (Ardea cinerea) and black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus). Yet you may also see other more emblematic species, such as the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and the red kite (Milvus milvus). Coots (Fulica atra) are the most commonly found birds in the Park. These blackfeathered birds with white beaks are particularly abundant in the winter, though there is a small population that remains here in the lagoon year-round. They feed on mud-dwelling plants (such as Ruppia cirrhosa and Potamogeton pectinatus). In the winter, the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo subsp. sinensis), which is black in colour with a slender body, arrives in large flocks from Denmark, Holland and Germany to feed on fish. The black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus) are white with long legs and flat feet that allow them to walk in the mud. When they feel they are in danger, they let out a typical call, thus earning another local name, avisadors or “warners”. It is not uncommon to see the spectacular activity of the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) using its claws to fish for mullet and eel in the lagoon. In some areas of S’Albufera there are perches, which they use as resting spots and lookouts. Once you have enjoyed this bird-watching stop, you will go back to the trail via the same path that you have taken out to the Punta de ses Ànedes.
Approximately one hundred meters further down the trail, ou will come to the cove, Cala de Santa Madrona, where you will see typical wetland vegetation just at the water’s edge. Here you will find hydrophilic species (freshwater species), such as the common reed (Phragmites australis) and the hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium), and halophytes (saltwater species), including the alkali bulrush (Scirpus maritimus and S. littoralis), the tamarisk (Tamarix africana) and the glasswort (Salsola soda). Also found here are different rush species, including Juncus subulatus, J. acutus and J. maritimus. Continue along the trail until you come to a wider road. From here you will either turn to the left, which will bring you back to the beginning of the trail, or you may turn right to follow the trail to the end. If you decide to keep going along the trail, be sure to head west until you come to a break on the right, which will lead you to the end of the trail, just opposite the islets, Illot d’en Mel and Illot des Cagaires.
There are three islets in the western area of S’Albufera. The largest islet is known as Illot d’en Mel, and boasts the Balearic Islands’ only inland lagoon islet population of the Lilford’s wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordii). You will also see the Illot d’en Petit or Illot des Cagaires, a small reef that is unmistakeable for its white colour, given the defecations left here by hundreds of cormorants. Additionally inhabiting the lagoon are the islets known as the Illot des Pardals and Illot des Soldat. The importance of the conservation of the wall lizard on Illot d’en Mel is a determining factor in the management of the waters of S’Albufera des Grau. A significant drop in the water level would endanger the survival of this species, as it would facilitate the entry of potential predators, such as cats or weasels.
A bit further along, and just before the end of the trail, you will see two more open hides. From this spot, you will enjoy a panoramic view of the wetland, Es Prat de s’Albufera. Es Prat de s’Albufera is an impermeable and virtually flat area that floods in the winter. It is an ideal habitat for many plant species, such as orchids, and for certain animals, including dragonflies, ducks, frogs and weasels. During the 1950s this meadow came to be used for rice cultivation. Nevertheless, the crop was soon abandoned as it proved to be unprofitable. Today it is an intermittent pastureland for the Menorcan cow.
From here, beyond Es Prat, you will see the flatland area, lans de Favàritx. This plain is currently an agricultural area, with a number of different llocs, or farmsteads, such as Sa Boval Vella, Estància des Prat and Sa Bovaleta. In the backdrop sits the geomorphologic monument known as Puig de sa Sella, with its typical horse saddle shape (hence the name sella, or saddle). These farmsteads are the traditional rural socio-economic units of the island. Today, their primary activity is centred on the breeding of dairy cattle for cheese, with a semi- extensive production system. This production system, together with traditional crop rotation (sown fields), has given rise to a landscape characterised by a mosaic of pasturelands, cultivation fields and wooded areas. Indeed, this structure makes it possible to conserve the quality of the landscape and the survival of much of its biodiversity. The ongoing use of the land in ways that are compatible with the conservation of natural values is one of the primary management objectives of S’Albufera des Grau Natural Park.

S’ALBUFERA DES GRAU NATURAL PARK

Mirador de cala Llimpa

Dificultad:Low
Distancia:1.70 km
Duración:40 min
Recomendaciones:-
Temática:Fauna, flora and landscape

Color:   

The most scenic and least known trail of the three that go around S’Albufera des Grau, this route runs through the southeastern area of the lagoon. We recommend taking it easy as you go along, making stops at the different points of interest.

Etapas

The itinerary begins in front of the S’Albufera des Grau Natural Park Reception and Interpretation Centre. The centre was named after the renowned Menorcan botanist Joan Joaquim Rodríguez i Femenias, an early 20th-century scholar who compiled the first comprehensive catalogue of Menorca’s flora, as well as making countless other contributions to the study of algae and plant life in general. The centre opened its doors in January 2004 and offers visitors the opportunity to view a permanent exhibition on the ecosystems of S’Albufera des Grau and to enjoy a film projection on this protected area. This is also the starting point for the guided tours and other activities offered in the Park. You may leave your car in the reception centre car park, and then follow the road towards the lagoon, some 200 metres away, where you will see a roundabout with a large olive tree in the middle. Your outing begins just past the wild olivewood gate on the right-hand side of the roundabout.
Just a few metres past the gate, you will come to a path to the left that leads to the hide known as the Aguait d’en Biel, a small wooden hut where you may watch the birds at Cala de Sa Font. Afterwards, return to the main trail and continue along, on a slight uphill climb that will take you about 20 metres above sea level, just above the highest cliffs of S’Albufera des Grau (atop Es Tamarells). The road will soon fork, at which point you will take the path on the left. You will immediately come to a wild olivewood gate, where you will pass through on the side. This area accommodates the wild olive (Olea europaea var. sylvestris) and hedge nettle (Prasium majus) community, which is known as the Prasio-Oleetum or Menorcan wild olive grove. The wild olive tree is most typically accompanied by the mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), the Italian buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus) and the phillyreas (Phillyrea media and P. latifolia). Among other thermophilic plants (those that have adapted to living in high temperatures) found here, mention must be made of the tree spurge (Euphorbia dendroides), which loses its leaves in the summer; the joint pine (Ephedra fragilis), which the wind whimsically bends into odd shapes, and the Calicotome infesta, which fills the path with yellow flowers in the springtime. Moreover, these north-facing crags display interesting winter-budding species, such as the daffodil (Narcissus tazetta) and the threecornered leek (Allium triquetrum).
In the early springtime, where the trail crosses open expanses of land, you are sure to see large numbers of orchids, including yellow bee orchids (Ophrys lutea), bumble bee orchids (O. bombyliflora) and tongue orchids (Serapias lingua). The orchids found in Menorca are small in size, though very diverse, representing the most modern rungs of floral evolution. In fact, the shapes of these flowers are highly efficient mechanisms designed to attract insects for their pollination.
In this first section of the trail, you will see the islets as you look over towards the western area of S’Albufera. The Illot d’en Mel, the largest of S’Albufera’s islets, is the only inland islet in the Balearics that has a Lilford’s wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordii) population. Endemic to Mallorca and Menorca, this species has evolved differently due to its geographic isolation, giving rise to different subspecies on each of the islets that it inhabits. The discovery of the specific Lilford’s wall lizard of the Illot d’en Mel in 1999 represented a major contribution to our knowledge of the ancient ecological history of S’Albufera. The Lilford’s wall lizard disappeared from Menorca with the arrival of the human being and human-introduced predators. The existence of this species suggests that the lagoon around the Illot d’en Mel has not dried up in the last few thousand years at least, as it would otherwise have been wiped out by predators.
You will continue along the trail, going through further wild olivewood gates, until you come to an occupied house. This is a remnant of the Shangril·la housing development, a project that was designed in the 1970s to take up the entire southern area of S’Albufera. The project envisaged the construction of a golf course and the transformation of the lagoon into a marina. Without a doubt, this would have severely altered the land and landscape of this area. Yet local resident movements alerted the public to the potential environmental impact of the project. Their voice was heard by the public administrations, which began a planning and clearing process for an area that was already built. In part, the process culminated with the 1995 listing of S’Albufera des Grau as a Natural Park.
Follow the trail until you finally reach Ses Puntes. Here you will find some stone benches to relax and enjoy the countryside. This lookout offers a privileged view of the point, Punta de na Verda on the left, Cala de Llimpa (cove) on the right and the Sa Gola area straight ahead. Punta de na Verda is covered with typical forest plants and shrubs. If you look out towards Cala de Llimpa, you will see the vegetation covering the edges of S’Albufera, which includes the alkali bulrush (Scirpus maritimus), the Halimione portulacoides and an occasional tamarisk (Tamarix africana). These plants provide refuge for countless bird species during their mating seasons, such as the coot (Fulica atra) and the Little Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis). Over towards Sa Gola, you will see a mass of pines and beyond it the sea.
The Ses Puntes lookout is a good place to contemplate and understand the formation of S’Albufera des Grau. S’Albufera has an open-water surface area of 70 hectares and a highly variable depth, with a maximum of 3 meters and an average of 1.37 meters. The lagoon reaches its maximum depth when there are heavy rains and its minimum depths during the summer, when the rains have stopped and evaporation is more intense. Narrow and long, with an irregular perimeter, S’Albufera sits over land dating from the Carboniferous period that emerged from the sea some 200 million years ago, along with the formation of the Hercynian mountain range. The origin of the lagoon owes itself to the presence of a fault that was overexcavated by a river during geological periods that were characterised by far lower sea levels and greater rainfalls than those of today. During the Quaternary period, the sea level came up and a dune bank formed, eading to the formation of S’Albufera and the accumulation of a large amount of sediments. The result was the emergence of the plain of Favàritx and the meadow of S’Albufera as we know them today. It is here where the trail ends. At this point, you may take the same road back to the reception and interpretation centre.

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