Valencia in Spain is the dream destination for any number of Mediterranean vacationers, with good wine, fresh paella made using regional ingredients, and an unparalleled art and culture scene. What many haven’t yet discovered is that it is also well worth a visit for birding enthusiasts, with the province in eastern Spain being home to 22 Nature Parks. In one of them, it’s not just numerous bird species that you’ll find nesting – there’s also been an Argentinean living there for many years, having made the Albufera lagoon her new family home.
... explains the bubbly South American, who no longer leaves the house without her EL 10x32. Even on the journey to the supermarket through the Valencian rice fields, it’s always within reach on the passenger seat. “In the Natural Park, you just never know if something really exciting is going to fly into view, so I like having my equipment close to hand,” says Yanina.
The passionate birder also carries her ATX65 with the iPhone adapter so she can capture quick and detailed shots of unexpected moments. “I usually have at least my binoculars and my telescope to hand. I love the versatility of the products and how compact they are. And the quality is second to none,” enthuses the birdwatcher, who has found her calling in her job. As a result, she doesn’t just want to observe and photograph birds, she also wants to actively protect them. A project that she supports that’s very close to her heart is Project Mussols, whose aim is to reintroduce barn owls and little owls to Valencia. “Even my kids help to feed the barn owl chicks,” comments the devoted environmentalist, laughing happily.
Yanina has quickly made her favorite place into her home. She lives in the center of Albufera, or more specifically in the Albufera Natural Park, and not far from her home she’s discovered a small brackish water lake that’s used by countless species as a breeding ground, including the Kentish Plover and Audouin’s Gull. Other species, like the Wood Sandpiper and the Ruddy Turnstone, like to roost here on their way to Africa. This means that at any time of year, Yanina has access to the best photograph opportunities right on her doorstep, although – or perhaps we should say because – a few years ago, the local authorities installed barriers around the lake to protect it from human disturbance. “It’s a real blessing, because even though my favorite lake is already in a conservation area, it’s not immune to being damaged by external factors. I’m delighted every time the need to protect a special place like this is recognized,” explains the environmentalist.
Yanina Maggiotto was born in Argentina and now lives in Valencia, in Spain. The professional bird guide has set up her own company, Visit Natura, for birdwatching and bird photography. In her free time, she collaborates with numerous conservation initiatives, and for almost ten years has been president of the Association of Birding Guides of the Valencian Community. The role sees her advising the regional and national tourist boards and attending bird fairs and congresses. Birding enthusiasts can accompany the cheerful Argentinean on trips in order to discover the secrets of the region’s hotspots for themselves.