National Geographic : 1958 Mar
Horse-drawn Boats Carry Ornithologists Through Andalusian Marshes One of the world's finest bird sanctuaries, a 450 square-mile stretch of desolate swampland, lies near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River on the southwest coast of Spain. Las Marismas-the Marshes-offer a refuge to some 200 species of European birds, some of them extremely rare. The author, with ten other naturalists, participated in a recent field trip to the Coto de Dofiana, a barrier of sandy scrub and pastureland walling off the marshes from the Gulf of CAdiz. Here members of the expedition, in shallow-draft duckboats hitched in tandem to the tail of a tow horse, glide through beds of white water-crowfoot. Half-wild cattle watch suspiciously in the distance. British ornithologist Gerald Jamieson (center), assisted by his wife and a local guarda, erect a blind near Lake Santa Olalla to photograph the purple heron (right). Their companions in the water clear a field of vision for the camera. Collapsible blinds enabled expedition members to photograph the shiest subjects from distances of a few feet. Purple heron builds its nest of reeds stacked out of reach of water. Rarely photographed, the bird is slenderer and warier than most of Europe's eight other herons. Striped serpentine neck identifies the species. Kodachromes by Eric Hosking (right) and 3 Roger Tory Peterson © N.G .S .