The Tablas de Daimiel National Park is a nature reserve and wetland ecosystem in south-central Spain. Created in 1973, it stretches for 18.7 km2 (7.2 mi2) at the confluence of the Guadiana and Giguela Rivers. Although it is the smallest of Spain’s 14 national parks, it is perhaps the most important for its resident and migrating bird populations. The park is also a Ramsar site, a Special Protection Area for birds and forms the core of the Biosphere reserve, Mancha Humeda.
One of the distinguishing and unusual features of this wetland is that the two converging rivers have different water types – the Giguela is brackish while the Guadiana is a freshwater river. Where the two rivers meet, they form a network of channels, lagoons, islands and flooded marshlands.
The differing types of water promote different plant life: the common reed thrives in freshwater while typical marsh vegetation such as the Great Fen-sedge grows abundantly in the saltier waters of the Giguela.
The park is a strategic resting or wintering point for many species of birds, including the great crested, common and black-necked grebes; herons, egrets and all kinds of Iberian ducks.
Of historical interest to visitors in the area are fourteen windmills dotted across the landscape, some of which date back to the Middle Ages.
There are three different routes for exploring the park with accessible wooden boardwalks and strategically placed viewing huts for photographers and birdwatchers.
Controversially, the wetlands are under threat from the demand for water for agriculture in the land surrounding the park. While steps are being taken by the authorities to address this, these are moving slowly due to a combination of factors, including the current economic situation.