Showing Doñana since 1990


Two Kentish plovers on the beach with the sea in the background

Two little plovers at Santa Pura

By José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

Posted in , ,

These are Chiara and Alex, a pair of Kentish plovers. They arrived at Santa Pura Beach in La Antilla (Lepe) a few days ago. They very like did not meet here, but at the nearby Marshes of El Catalán, where they spent last winter.

They have already declared their love with peeps and cuddles and now, when spring is coming, an inner force that they cannot, nor want to  control,  has pushed them here. I’m talking about instinct, an irresistible impulse that at this time of year drives them to start their breeding season. And here, in the quiet Beaches of Santa Pura, they find the ideal place.


Or at least that’s what they think because that’s what their parents, their grandparents, their great-great-grandparents did, and what Kentish plovers have been doing for hundreds or thousands of past generations. Actually, now things have changed, a lot. Most of those places where these little birds traditionally breed have disappeared. In fact, there are very few quiet beaches left along the coast of Huelva where they can find enough free space for dogs and towels, where to bring their chicks into the world.

Sandy beach with dunes and sea

But let’s go back to Chiara and Alex, because they are lucky today. Here in Lepe they still find beautiful places byside the dunes where they can try to create a new generation of little Kentish plovers. In fact, the last few days of the past winter, with mild temperatures, have been great for them to start their important task. And they have already set to work to build their simple but cozy nest in the sand.

Kentish plover nest on a sandy beach

But I warn you, this story that has just begun does not have a guaranteed happy ending. These two feathered little guys are going to face quite a few problems over the next few weeks and months. The place where they have come to strengthen their love ties, may not actually be that idyllic paradise they have thought they were arriving at. Peace in this  beautiful corner of Santa Pura Beach, not far from the last houses of La Antilla, still so quiet, is going to break soon.

Soon the beach will begin to fill with those of us who enjoy the beach during our Easter and Summer vacations. Some of us will bring our pets along with us, to enjoy the open space and running free through the sands. And most of us will not be aware of the fragile love story that unfolds next to our towels, under our feet, at ground level.


So the way in which this story is going to develop will depend largely on you, on all of us. It will depend on us that this story has that happy ending that we all want. We will decide whether Santa Pura Beaches will keep on saving inside this beautiful treasure. And here I am going to be telling you that story, little by little, chapter by chapter, hopefully I will be able to fill it with many more smiles than tears.


Discovering Doñana participates in “Nests on the Sand

Thanks to José Carlos Rodríguez for the photos of the two Kentish plovers

About José Antonio Sánchez Iglesias

José Antonio Sánchez se licenció en Biología por la Universidad de Sevilla en 1985. Más tarde, durante varios años, se dedicó a organizar y guiar rutas de senderismo y naturaleza ...