This corner in the warmest area in Galicia is among the most desirable and unique destinations for bird watching in the Iberian northwest. It holds many surprises with its mix of both Atlantic and Mediterranean plants and animals and its winding reliefs, with wide valleys and mountains over 1000 metres high.

Birds on the border

Nestled on the southern tip of Galicia near the Portuguese border, the valleys of the Faramontaos and Salas rivers (tributaries of the Limia) and the lamas (meadows) of Tosende, Santiago, Vilamaior da Boullosa and Golpellás shape breathtaking landscapes.

This ecologically valuable setting is completed by the Serra do Larouco, an extension to the east of the Serra do Xurés that, with its nearly 1400 metres of elevation, offers a wide range of habitats full of life: from the bare rocky areas and scrubland to pine forests and dense oaks.

The routes
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Route by car: Guntimil - Niñodaguia

BEST TIME

From April to June

DISTANCE

30 Km

DURATION

2 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Baltar, Os Blancos, Xinzo de Limia

PATH

Single route: Guntimil - Os Blancos - Covas - Tosende - Vilamaior da Boullosa - Niñodaguia

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Key points on the route:

  1. From Guntimil (1) (where corn buntings and spotless starlings can be seen) climb east through Gudes (2). Once again, corn bunting and also zitting cisticola can be seen here.
  2. Soon after, we reach some large oaks (3) where eurasian nuthatches can be found.
  3. Between Ouvigo and Os Blancos there is rolling landscape with fine open fields (4) in which is possible to see montagu's harrier, the tawny pipit and, at one time, the little bustard.
  4. Between Os Blancos and Guntín, in the Airoa river valley (5), there are several pairs of montagu's harrier and southern grey shrike.
  5. On the ascent to Covas sightings can be had of short-toed snake eagles and common kestrels, and even in Covas (6) itself the woodlark and rock bunting are common.
  6. The pine thickets at the highest part of Covas (Serra de Gomariz, 1100 m) are excellent for watching western bonelli's warbler and may at times house red crossbills, particularly in autumn and winter.
  7. On the descent to Meaus pay attention to the turnoff to the left toward A Boullosa. A few hundred metres further, there is a magnificent valley (7) with abundant peat bogs and flooded areas called 'lamas'. In them are breeding common snipes, red-backed shrikes and golden orioles.
  8. While arriving to A Boullosa, european nightjar, iberian chiffchaff and eurasian tree sparrow can be spotted.
  9. Towards Baltar there is an area of scattered oakwood (8) in which montagu's harrier are present and common whitethroat are numerous.
  10. Shortly after Baltar, take the right turn towards Niñodaguia (9), where the Eurasian scops owl nests and long-eared owls may be seen.

Route on foot or by bike: Couto Mixto

BEST TIME

Spring and late summer

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot, 2-3 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Baltar, Calvos de Randín

PATH

Couto Mixto

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Key points on the route:

  1. Continue north from the village of San Martino dos Peros (1), where short-toed snake eagles can be seen.
  2. Iberian chiffchaffs and golden orioles nest on the way to Santiago de Rubiás (2).
  3. On reaching this town, there are fine views of the 'lama' (meadow) of the Salas river (3). Here montagu's harriers and red-backed shrikes can be seen.
  4. After crossing it, continue to Rubiás dos Mixtos (4), where it is still possible to see the red-backed shrike and booted eagle.
  5. After a few kilometres the route reaches O Vilar (5), where sightings can be had of stock doves and golden eagles outside of the breeding season.

Route on foot or by bike: Serra do Larouco

BEST TIME

Spring, late summer

DURATION

2-3 hours on foot, 1-2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Baltar, Cualedro, Xinzo de Limia

PATH

Serra do Larouco

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Key points on the route:

  1. From Vilela (1), on the border between the municipalities of Cualedro and Baltar, take a track southwestwards to the Larouco wind farm, where groves of pines (2) host several pairs of western bonelli's warbler.
  2. At the top of the wind farm isolated pairs (3) of montagu's harrier, northern harrier, northern wheatear and ortolan bunting breed, and it is frequent to see short-toed snake eagle hunting.
  3. Continue west towards O Farrelo (4) (1397 m) in spring to see rock thrush and even a golden eagle outside breeding season.

Route on foot or by bike: Brañas de Golpellás

BEST TIME

Spring, late summer

DURATION

2-3 hours

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Calvos de Randin

PATH

Brañas de Golpellás

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Key points on the route:

  1. In Pintás (1), where montagu's harrier and northern wheatear can be seen, take a dirt road towards Golpellás to the northwest, an area that winds through scrubland (2).
  2. On the way, watch out for tawny pipit and water pipit in the winter.
  3. The descent into the area of the "lamas" (meadows) (3) provides a chance to glimpse whinchat, even during breeding season. There are also western yellow wagtails.
  4. At one point in the descent there is an excellent view over the entire Lobás river valley (4), where there are breeding snipe, northern lapwings and, possibly, short-eared owls.
  5. On reaching Golpellás (5) note the presence of southern grey shrike and golden oriole at the crossroads.
  6. The tawny owl and short-toed treecreeper nest in the same village. 
The birds

Calvos de Randín and Baltar host a combination of birds typical to northern latitudes, such as the bullfinch, snipe and tree pipit (the snipe's only breeding area in Galicia is here), and more Mediterranean birds, such as the nightingale, western bonelli's warbler and the subalpine warbler. This is an area also known for the density of certain birds that in other parts of Galicia are rarer: the short-toed snake eagle, tawny pipit and southern grey shrike are some good examples. The great crested grebe calls the Salas reservoir home regularly and western osprey have wintered there.

Tips and resources
  • Bring suitable footwear (rubber boots or waterproof shoes) in autumn and winter in the meadows.

  • Only travel on trails and do not trespass on farm land.

  • In breeding season, do not walk through meadows as you may disturb nesting species, especially Montagu's harrier and the common snipe.

Arriba