Although much changed since the 1950s, this plain in the heart of the province of Ourense stands out as an attractive bird watching destination, especially between mid-April and late June, with the arrival of the summer species and spring migration. The morning chorus of birds in the sand pits and comings and goings of dozens of birds of prey in the crop fields are not to be missed.

The spirit of Antela

A Limia has a unique landscape in Galicia, with large fields in a flat area that is partially flooded and flanked by round-top mountains.

Its past was marked by the former Antela lagoon. This wetland, which in some winters reached 7 km long and 6 meters wide, was drained as part of the aggressive agricultural policies in the early 1960s. Together with the lake, many species of birds -many of them water birds- also disappeared, and today they are threatened. Currently, the aggregate mines that are in the municipalities of Xinzo de Limia, Sandiás and Vilar de Santos offer an opportunity for some of these birds to return to the areas they traditionally occupied.

There are also wooded groves of mainly willow on the banks of the canals, rivers, streams and naturalised sand pits and oak groves on the edge of the cultivated flatlands. The villages' small agro-pastoral areas are often well preserved and host many bird species. Many of these areas are now protected as ZEPAs (Special Bird Protection Areas).

The routes
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"Riparia" route by car

BEST TIME

From April to June. Also in September

DISTANCE

40 km

DURATION

All morning or afternoon

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Bande, Porqueira, Rairiz de Veiga, Sandiás, Vilar de Santos, Xinzo de Limia

PATH

Xinzo de Limia - Ponte Liñares - A Limia sand pits and return

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Key points on the route:

  1. The open rural mosaic we traverse in the area of As Lamas (1) is known for the little bustard, the curlew and lark. Quails, black kites and corn buntings can regularly be found.
  2. In the area of San Vitoiro (2) montagu's harrier is common.
  3. At Ponte Liñares (3) kingfishers and the white-throated dipper can be seen.
  4. The meadows of Ordes (4) are breeding grounds for northern lapwings.
  5. The bittern, great crested grebe, little ringed plover, sand martin and great reed warbler nest in the sand pits (5). Outside breeding season, it is common to find the garganey, spoonbill, ruff and green sandpiper.
  6. In the area around the bridge of the N-525 (6) on the Antela channel it is common to see the stock dove and western jackdaw

 

"Milvus" route by car

BEST TIME

From late April to mid-June. Also in September

DISTANCE

30 km

DURATION

All morning or afternoon

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Sandiás, Sarreaus, Xinzo de Limia

PATH

Xinzo de Limia - N-525 - centro ecuestre - canle central de Antela - Casasoá - A Pedra Alta - Cortegada - mosteiro do Bon Xesús de Trandeiras - Xinzo de Limia

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Key points on the route:

  1. In the area around the bridge of the N-525 on the Antela channel (1) it is common to come across the stock dove and western jackdaw
  2. In the channel (2), heading north towards A Pedra Alta we can spot white storks, tree pipits, iberian chiffchaffs and cetti's warblers.
  3. The long-eared owl can be seen or heard in the windbreak trees between the fields (5).
  4. In A Pedra Alta (4), northern harriers, short-eared owls and curlews eurasian stone-curlew can be seen with some luck.
  5. In the O Bon Xesús de Trandeiras monastery (5) there are yellowhammers, eurasian nuthatchs and, in the nearby mountains, short-toed snake eagles.

 

“Podiceps” route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

From late April to mid-June. Also in September

DISTANCE

14 km

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot and 2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Sandiás, Xinzo de Limia

PATH

Xinzo de Limia - Areeiras da Limia - Xinzo de Limia

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Key points on the route:

  1. From the centre of Xinzo de Limia, take the N-525 road towards Ourense for about 3 km. Along this stretch it is possible to see white storks, quails, northern lapwings and european whimbrels.
  2. In the area around the bridge of the N-525 on the Antela channel (1) it is common to come across the stock dove and western jackdaw.
  3. Turn left onto a dirt road that runs southwest parallel to the main channel on its left bank (2), where nightingales and iberian chiffchaffs can be seen.
  4. On the right, pass two small long ponds (where common sandpiper and cuckoo can be seen) and, immediately thereafter, look out for a large abandoned sand pit (3), where little bittern can be seen.
  5. Further on, cross the channel (4) (containing eurasian reed warblers) and reach the sand pits, where the bittern, great crested grebe, little ringed plover, sand martin and great reed warbler nest. Outside breeding season, it is common to come across the garganey, spoonbill, ruff and green sandpiper.

 

“Burhinus” routes on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

From late April to mid-June. Also in September

DISTANCE

10 km

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot and 2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Sarreaus, Vilar de Barrio, Xunqueira de Ambía

PATH

Vilar de Gomareite - A Pedra Alta - Vilar de Gomareite

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Key points on the route:

  1. From Vilar de Gomareite, follow the trails of the former Antela lagoon towards the southwest. Along this first stretch (1) it is possible to see quails, montagu's harriers and, closer to A Pedra Alta, short-eared owls, curlews and larks.
  2. Next to this final place, there is a lagoon (2) resulting from the mines of the 1990s, which often hosts green sandpipers, western yellow wagtails and corn buntings.
  3. Return to Gomareite making a detour to the northwest (3) in search of the stock dove and golden oriole.

 

The birds

Despite being an important agricultural region, A Limia continues to guard remarkable bird life. As such, the breeding populations of several species, such as the quail, bittern, white stork, montagu's harrier and northern harrier, northern lapwing, bustard, lark and sand martin are still the most important in Galicia.

The sand pits attract thousands of water birds, especially mallardsds and teals, with the frequent presence of garganeys, purple herons, black-crowned night herons and stilts, among other birds. red-legged partridges, black kites, cuckoos, eurasian hoopoes, eurasian wrynecks, red-rumped swallows, tree pipits, nightingales, dartford warblers and sardinian warblers, melodious warblers, cirl buntings and rock buntings also form part of the range of limiás species, which records up to 240.

 

Tips and resources
  • In the sand pits of Sandiás and Vilar de Santos the bird observatories can be used. Remember that you are in a mine: you must follow the rules or, if appropriate, the indications of the operators. Swimming is prohibited.

  • Use of a spotting scope is recommended in both the observatories and steppe zones.

  • Rubber boots are indispensible when walking through meadows in winter.

  • Avoid disturbing sand martin breeding colonies when near roads.

Arriba