This area on the southeastern edge of Galicia on the border with Portugal and Castilla y León is a first-class bird watching region. It owes its name to the climate, with its very harsh winter, constant frosts and prolonged low temperatures. It is home to such interesting birds as the golden eagle and a wide diversity of birds in spring.

Mediterranean birds in the southeastern confines of Galicia

An area with a sinuous profile and high average altitude, crowned by O Aguallal at 1665 m. The eastern area has peaks with large sections of scrub and pine forests on the slopes. In the central and southern areas there are towns surrounded by farm land, even larger scrub sections and thickets of oak and pine. The area of Os Chaos do Tameirón is surrounded by natural grassland.

The routes
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Route by car: Herosa - Manzalvos border crossing

BEST TIME

From March to July

DISTANCE

35 Km

DURATION

3 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Gudiña, A Mezquita

PATH

Long route: Herosa - O Pereiro - Manzalvos border crossing

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Key points on the route:

  1. Starting from the village of Herosa (1) (where spotless starlings and rock buntings can be spotted), connect with the N-525 before the access to Pentes and Barxa. While advancing towards A Gudiña we cross areas of loose scrub (2) where woodlark and subalpine warbler are present. In the small patches of pine western bonelli's warbler and, on occasion, the long-eared owl, make their nests.
  2. Before entering A Gudiña (2) pay attention to the flocks of common wood pigeons, since a stock dove can sometimes be spotted.
  3. After crossing A Gudiña and following the N-525, we reach O Canizo (4), where common kestrels and southern grey shrikes can be seen.
  4. Leaving towards O Pereiro (6), we cross a striking steppe area in which black kites and montagu's harriers live. In this area there are also occasional reports of red kite between October and March.
  5. In O Pereiro (6), take the route towards A Mezquita. In the river the european bee-eater and sand martin can still be seen. Further on, in the scrubland, the subalpine warbler and rock bunting breed.
  6. In A Mezquita (7) a pair of white storks nest. Continuing towards Cádavos, the route passes beside the As Veigas creek valley, with the presence of european honey buzzards and european bee-eaters.
  7. The eurasian nuthatch and common redstart breed in the village of Cádavos (8). Further south, in Manzalvos it is possible to see stock doves and eurasian hoopoes.
  8. Finally, in the area of the former customs office in Manzalvos, red-legged partridge can be found and red kites are occasionally present.

Route by car: A Mezquita - A Vilavella - Portela da Canda

BEST TIME

From March to July

DISTANCE

25 Km

DURATION

2 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Gudiña, A Mezquita

PATH

Mezquita - A Vilavella - Portela da Canda

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Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts in Chaguazoso (1), where spotless starlings can be seen. From there, take the road to A Esculqueira. In the first stretch (2), woodlark and common kestrel are usually present in the scattered trees. A few kilometres further, an area with rocks and low scrub provides an excellent opportunity to find montagu's harrier and rufous-tailed rock thrush. Before reaching A Esculqueira, there are pine plantations on the left (3) that are home to western bonelli's warbler and red crossbill.
  2. After crossing A Esculqueira towards the north, on the right are black poplar plantations (4), which provide a home for iberian chiffchaff and golden oriole. Continuing along the OU-0906, we cross an exceptional steppe area (5) where it is possible to see montagu's harrier and southern grey shrike.
  3. Take the turnoff to the left towards O Tameirón and, upon reaching a rocky area around the road (6), watch out for tawny pipit and northern wheatear.
  4. In O Tameirón take the route to O Canizo (7), with eyes open for possible sightings of montagu's harrier and subalpine warbler.
  5. Once on the N-525, continue to the right through O Pereiro, approaching A Vilavella and A Canda. In this town, turn to the right and go up one of the paths that reaches the highest point of Monte de Portela (8), covered by dense growths of Scots pine. In this area it is possible to spot the red crossbill and there are records of firecrest and citril finch. The southern foot of the mountain (9) has broom thickets perfect for watching bluethroats in breeding season.

Route on foot or by bike: Pentes - Portuguese border

BEST TIME

From March to July

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot and 2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

A Gudiña

PATH

Pentes - O Rigueiro da Ribeira mill - Barxa - Portuguese border

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Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts from the village of Pentes (1), where it is possible to find iberian chiffchaff and short-toed treecreeper. Follow the road to Barxa, travelling through areas with substantial scrub coverage (2) hosting red-legged partridges and rock buntings.
  2. The valley of O Rigueiro da Ribeira (3) is a good location for watching european honey buzzards and european bee-eaters.
  3. A few kilometres further, when the road starts to descend and Barxa is glimpsed, a dirt road opens to the left. Take this road for about 100 m to reach the O Rigueiro mill (4). This place is ideal for watching white-throated dippers and subalpine warblers.
  4. On the descent towards the village of Barxa (5) eurasian wrynecks and common swifts can be spotted. If you pay attention, you may also spot a pallid swift.
  5. While crossing Barxa towards the south, follow a path parallel to the river that ends at the border with Portugal (6). Keep watch out for western bonelli's warblers and iberian chiffchaffs on the way.

Route on foot or by bike: Cádavos - Castromil

BEST TIME

From March to July

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot and 2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

A Mezquita

PATH

Cádavos - Castromil

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Key points on the route:

  1. This curious route starts from the village of Cádavos and ends at the 'twin' villages of Castromil. In the beginning, keep your eyes out for european bee-eaters and eurasian nuthatches.
  2. Follow the road to Castromil crossing a chestnut grove with good-sized specimens (2). The tawny owl and common redstart can be seen here.
  3. While advancing, we will cross an area of fields (3) where eurasian skylarks can be spotted and which are an excellent place to look for greater short-toed larks in spring.
  4. At the end, a stretch of open bush begins with large granite rocks (4) on which rufous-tailed rock thrushes and southern grey shrikes can be seen.
  5. A few kilometres further we reach the Galician Castromil (5), which is separated from the Zamora Castromil by a stream where iberian chiffchaffs and western bonelli's warbler can be seen. eurasian wrynecks and common redstarts breed in the chestnut grove on the Zamora side.
The birds

The best time to visit the area begins in the second half of April and runs through mid-June, during which time spectacular birds make their appearance, such as the european bee-eater, the rufous-tailed rock thrush, the common redstart, the woodchat shrike and the ortolan bunting. The list is complemented by the western bonelli's warbler, the northern wheatear, the stock dove, the southern grey shrike and the highly localised bluethroat. Non-breeding birds include the more or less frequent great spotted cuckoo and grey partridge, which breeds just over the border in Sanabria. The golden eagle regularly patrols these peaks.

Tips and resources
  • Try to watch birds early in the day and take trips by car late in the morning in search of raptors.

  • Using the N-525 instead of the A-52 when travelling through the area provides greater opportunities to stop and watch birds.

Arriba