A visit to the Tablas of Daimiel is a must for those interested in wetlands. It is one of the most unique and important wetlands of Europe and holds a special place for us here in La Mancha. Even though our wetlands are continuously under threat from habitat loss, agricultural use of water and drought there are conservation efforts to protect them and their flora and fauna.
In the Tablas there is a particular enclosed area called the Laguna de Aclimatación, or The Acclimatisation Pond. In this pond there are two large hides where you can observe the permanent display of ducks that can be found in the park. It is not only a display of what can be seen but a method of conservation of some of our rarer ducks where they are free from predators and can breed in peace to help preserve certain species.
White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)
Of course the most endangered species is the White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala). What was at one stage a population of only 22 birds in Spain in 1977 has rebounded to approximately 2,500 at the present time. There were around 100,000 in Europe at the turn of the 20th Century but excessive hunting and habitat loss meant a rapid decline. Thanks to efforts such as these the Spanish population is on the increase again.
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Another duck which can be seen here is the Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) which has also experienced huge declines of up to 50% of their European populations. It was once described in the first quarter of the 20th Century as the most common anatidae across its range. Recent plans in conservation efforts will hopefully help this bird listed as Vulnerable in Europe.
Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris)
The Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) is another that has suffered greatly in the last 20 years. Since the destruction of the Iraqi marsh habitat in 1991 populations have declined and a population crash is feared. Certain conservation work in the Iraqi marshes may help, however protecting the species here in the Tablas will help our local population also, hopefully. It is not often you see many in the wild here but they can be seen regularly in certain areas.
It is through efforts like these that we help protect and repopulate our threatened birds. Hopefully the local, regional and national government recognise this and continue to fund and promote it even in these times of economic crisis. Lack of commitment rumours are already spreading that the wildlife recuperation centre at El Chaparillo and the Tablas are threatened by our local governments cutbacks. It would be a shame for such long term efforts to be thrown by the wayside.
Other birds that can be seen in this enclosure are not so threatened generally but still a part of the conservation effort such as the Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Northern Pintail and Garganey.