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Plaiaundi, a luxury for birds

A little-known spot that shows us how important estuaries are in bird migration.

Another place that is not only surprising but also little-known, well worth a leisurely visit, it is located in Txingudi Bay. It is called Plaiaundi and it is a treat that the River Bidasoa has left us to contemplate as it flows into the Cantabrian Sea. A “luxury hotel” that not only provides rest for the numerous birds that live here but also for those that are passing through on their long migration routes.

It is striking that, among the airport runways, train tracks, the national road, industrial premises and the towns of Irun, Hondarribia and Hendaye, around 150 species of birds and many other marine species and insects have their own little paradise in this wetland. And just for good measure, there are some sports facilities right in the middle of the park, which they now want to move somewhere else.

In actual fact the entire natural surroundings of Txingudi are a festival for water activities and hiking. Between Mount Larun, Aiako Harria and the magical Jaizkibel we’ll be able to see a large network of footpaths, bike lanes, rivers and marshes where all kinds of sports activities can be found. Irun was also a very important Roman enclave, and in Hondarribia we will be able to enjoy an exceptional old quarter, among many other things.

However, let’s go to the Plaiaundi Ecological Park. Eva and Paul very kindly gave the presentation at the Ekoetxea of the park including an interesting video. Just to say that it is highly advisable when visiting for citizens to ask at reception for some binoculars as there are a great many birds that we will see on the way.

The gradual implementation of certain protective measures, on both banks of the Bidasoa, has made it possible to restore and conserve a part of the wetlands. The Bidasoa estuary, just like Txingudi Bay forms part of the Natura 2000 Network; the former as a SAC (Special Area of Conservation for Birds), and the Bay as a SCI (Site of Community Importance). Plaiaundi currently forms part of the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

The Park covers an area of 24 Hectares. with two internal lagoons linked by sluices according to the rhythm of the tides, San Lorenzo and Txoritegi. A two-kilometre long, figure-of -eight route among huge trees allows me to enjoy this area and have fun watching numerous birds such as the Grey Heron, the Spoonbill, the Common Buzzard, the peregrine Falcon, the Kingfisher, storks, Redshanks, Curlews…

It will be worth waiting for sunset to see flocks of cattle egrets, as white as snow, settling down in the trees in the fresh water lagoon right next to the rugby ground. A real spectacle.

In addition to this, we learnt about the project to expand the San Lorenzo lagoon, and the footpath/bike lane linking the towns of Hondarribia, Irun and Hendaye through the Plaiaundi area.


This pedestrian walkway/bike lane from Pierre Loti to the Avenida de Iparralde bridge, will pass under the Adif and Euskotren bridges on stilts, and after crossing over the Avenida bridge, will link up with the walkway/bike lane that in Hendaye (Eurovelo 1) runs along the right bank of the River Bidasoa towards the Txingudi wetlands and Pheasant Island.

In Irún it will also link up on the left bank of the river with the bike lane that runs behind the Gal Stadium.

This intervention aims to restore the wetland ecosystem linked to the intertidal areas and make the area more resistant to the impact of climate change, and to allow people to be able to move around in a healthy sustainable way, on foot or by bike, between the three towns that make up the Txingudi wetlands.



Let’s not forget the Jaizubia branch of the wetlands, which make it possible to go on a delightful walk from the district of Amute to the Endanea Garden or the Hiruzta winery.

Calmly, and if possible, on a sunny day, we recommend you to go by bus or in the car to the Plaiaundi Ekoetxea and visit the park, walk through the Alkain warehouses up to the Amute bridge, take the Jaizubia branch to come back in the opposite direction and end up again in Plaiaundi. If I add in the sunset and the arrival of the flocks of egrets, I’ll give it top marks as I head back home.

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