O Courel is a mountain range with rugged terrain. Its peaks barely reach 1,600 m, but its slopes are very pronounced and its lithology complex. As such, it is a truly heterogeneous mountain range with a multitude of environments conducive to a large variety of birds: forest, cliff, scrub and human-populated areas.

Mountains of contrasts

In a southeastern corner of the province of Lugo a mountain range is hidden away that is among the most remote landscapes of Galicia.

Facing the northeast to the southwest and flanked by tributaries of the Sil, the O Courel range is an area of great environmental heterogeneity due to its rugged terrain, diverse lithology and orientation. In it, there are beech groves that take us to Atlantic environments and a few meters further, oak groves typical of Mediterranean environments.

In addition, it has been inhabited since time immemorial and man has transformed certain environments into high-value agricultural systems with remote and evocative villages surrounded by ancient chestnut trees and mosaics of meadows. Oak, beech, chestnut and holly oak groves are some of the types of forest that can be found. The rivers descend in rapids from the summits covered with diverse scrub. The rocky outcrops provide outdoor geology classes. Travelling into O Courel is not going only to a particular physical space, it is also a journey through time.

The routes
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Route by car: Hospital - Froxán

BEST TIME

Between April and October

DISTANCE

40 Km

DURATION

3 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Folgoso do Courel, Pedrafita do Cebreiro

PATH

Hospital - Seoane do Courel - Folgoso do Courel - Froxán

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Key points on the route:

  1. This route runs from the north to the south of this natural space and introduces visitors to many different habitats running parallel to the Lor river. It starts at Hospital, near the Alto de San Roque in the Camino de Santiago, and heads south. In this area, where mountain pastures (1) abound, there are montagu's harriers and other characteristic birds such as red-backed shrikes and yellowhammers.
  2. Pay attention to the area surrounding the small villages (2) passed along the way, since swallows, house martins and other species associated with human-populated areas are abundant.
  3. Also pay attention to the cliffs and crags to see eurasian crag martins and raptors common to these areas.
  4. When nearing the Lor river (3), it is advisable to stop and walk a short stretch, as it is an ideal place to see white-throated dipper, grey wagtail and less abundant species such as the spotted flycatcher.
  5. In the vicinity of Froxán (4), a walk through the chestnut grove in spring may hold some surprises such as the eurasian wryneck and a large group of forest birds such as the western bonelli's warbler.

Route by car: Seoane do Courel - Ferramulín

BEST TIME

From April to September.

DISTANCE

20 Km

DURATION

2 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Folgoso do Courel

PATH

Seoane do Courel - Visuña - Ferramulín

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Key points on the route:

  1. In Seoane do Courel (1) the route starts at the road that leads to Esperante. A stop in the chestnut groves (2) provides an opportunity to hear species such as the eurasian nuthatch or short-toed treecreeper.
  2. On the climb to Alto do Couto (3) the route passes through very different environments. In this section, we will make successive stops to discover birds of prey such as the short-toed snake eagle, goshawk or common kestrel, apart from numerous passerines.
  3. Descending from Visuña, remain attentive to the crags (4)  and low hill where species such as the red-billed chough and northern harrier can be seen, respectively.
  4. On way to Ferramulín the route again passes by chestnut groves (in which a stop is recommended) and the banks of the Visuña river (5), a great place for watching white-throated dipper and grey wagtail.

Route on foot: Devesa da Rogueira

BEST TIME

From April to October

DISTANCE

4 km, one way

DURATION

2 and a half hours (one way)

DIFFICULTY

Medium

COUNCILS

Folgoso do Courel

PATH

Devesa da Rogueira

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Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts from the vicinity of Moreda (1) next to the nature interpretation centre. Here, the chestnut grove is impressive and, as such, it is easy to listen to birds such as the eurasian nuthatch, eurasian bullfinch and great spotted woodpecker.
  2. The trail runs around small meadows on the edge of the forest (2). It is a good place to see thrushes, for instance. Be attentive at all times to the more open spaces, since a eurasian sparrowhawk or goshawk can be seen.
  3. The route climbs through beeches (3) until reaching the higher part. On this section it is easy to hear birds such as the firecrest, eurasian blue tit and european crested tit.
  4. After completing the route in the natural springs (fontes do Cervo and fontes da Fame) remain attentive to the upper limit of the forest (4) where, at any time, the northern harrier may appear.

Route on foot: Froxán - O Castro Grande (S. Roque chapel)

BEST TIME

From April to October

DISTANCE

2.5 km, one way

DURATION

1 hour (one way)

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Folgoso do Courel

PATH

Froxán - O Castro Grande (Ermida de S. Roque)

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Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts at the village of Froxán (1) and heads towards the Lor river. The area around the village is excellent in spring to watch small birds. Pay attention to species such as the eurasian wryneck, common redstart, common whitethroat and spotted flycatcher.
  2. In the Lor river (2), on the O Vao bridge, look for grey wagtail, white-throated dipper and eurasian bullfinch.
  3. Walk up the hill to the castro (3) accompanied by dartford warblers and, at the end, red-backed shrikes.
The birds

The variety and quality of O Courel's forests is extensive, and in all of them eurasian nuthatches and short-toed treecreepers are frequent and constantly heard. Other characteristic species include the iberian chiffchaff and western bonelli's warbler in warmer areas. Also, pay attention to woodpeckers such as the great spotted woodpecker and eurasian wryneck. The scrubland hosts various species such as the dartford warbler and garden warbler. In the rivers white-throated dippers and grey wagtails can be easily seen. Both forest and rock raptors are common: the most characteristic ones are the short-toed snake eagle, the booted eagle, the goshawk, the eurasian hobby and the northern harrier in the higher areas.

Tips and resources
  • O Courel is a mountain area. Be attentive to the road and be careful with the weather conditions in autumn and winter. The summer heat can be stifling

  • In any mountain hike it is advisable to go well equipped and carry water and some food. It is important not to leave the trails and roads.

  • It is an area visited by hikers so there are many walking trails that can yield good bird observations.

Arriba