This visit covers a charming corner of inland Galicia, where chestnut trees and birds are the protagonists. From late April to early June watching the birds that breed here can be an extraordinary experience, as it is a chance to find some of the most difficult-to-see species in Galicia. Explore and enjoy this land of chestnuts!

Discovering the inhabitants of ancient chestnut groves

A wooded mid-mountain area in southeastern Galicia, informally known as the País de Riós. It is made up of the municipality of Riós and most of the municipalities of Vilardevós and Castrelo do Val, in the river basin of the Mente river, which flows into the Duero.

It is an area with an undulating profile and is even steep in places, with a climate of a distinctive Mediterranean character. The chestnut groves near the villages alternate with growths of Pyrenean oak, pine and some cork oak trees. Willows, ash and alder trees adorn the local creeks.

The routes
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Route by car: Vilarello da Cota - Riós

BEST TIME

From March to September

DISTANCE

35 Km

DURATION

3 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Riós, Vilardevós

PATH

Vilarello da Cota - Arzádegos - Enxames - Vilardevós - Vilariño das Touzas - Progo - Marcelín - Riós

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Key points on the route:

  1. From Vilarello da Cota (1) -an area with a sizeable population of eurasian wryneck and western bonelli's warbler- make your way towards Arzádegos.
  2. Along the way red-legged partridges and common house martins can be seen.
  3. Continue towards Florderrei Vello and Enxames. To the east of this latter village (3), there is at least one pair of red-backed shrikes, while booted eagle and Bonelli's warbler are usually seen. There is also a recent recorded sighting of a european bee-eater.
  4. Moving towards Vilardevós, southern grey shrike can be seen on top of bushes or on telephone wires (4).
  5. After crossing this village, towards Riós (5) tree pipit, iberian chiffchaff and eurasian bullfinches can be seen.
  6. On arrival to the Progo meadows (6) common whitethroats and golden orioles can be seen.
  7. In Marcelín keep  watch out for iberian green woodpecker and sardinian warbler.
  8. Lastly, in the village of Riós (8) there are chestnut groves in which common redstarts live.

Route by car: As Vendas da Barreira - A Trabe

BEST TIME

From March to September

DISTANCE

37 Km

DURATION

3 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Riós, Vilardevós

PATH

As Vendas da Barreira - Covelas - Castrelo de Abaixo - Arzoá - Moialde - Berrande - A Trabe

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Key points on the route:

  1. In As Vendas da Barreira (1) common house martins and, occasionally, red-billed chough can be seen.
  2. The route continues towards Castrelo de Abaixo, where special attention should be paid in the first few kilometres (2) to the small groups of pigeons (the stock dove is especially frequent there).
  3. Before reaching the turnoff to Florderrei (3) watchers can see the lesser spotted woodpecker and common redstart, which are more frequent in the chestnut groves a little west of the village, where the common house martin and spotless starling also breed.
  4. The landscape becomes more open as we move towards Covelas (4), which enables watchers to see red-legged partridges and golden orioles.
  5. Continue towards Castrelo de Abaixo (4), paying attention to the birds of prey montagu's harriers and kestrels and both southern grey and woodchat shrikes.
  6. In the area of Castrelo de Abaixo (5) there are records of eurasian wryneck, iberian chiffchaff and western bonelli's warbler.
  7. On the descent to the valley of Arzoá river (6), a tributary of the Mente, there are chances of seeing a golden oriole and eurasian bullfinch. The river itself is home to grey wagtail and white-throated dipper.
  8. After crossing Arzoá and Moialde, where red-legged partridge and common kestrel can be seen, continue a few kilometres to Berrande (7), where it is possible to see the european nightjar and eurasian nuthatch.
  9. Lastly, in A Trabe (8) there are chances of seeing eurasian wrynecks and spotted flycatchers.

Route on foot or by bike: Serra de Penas Libres (Vilardevós)

BEST TIME

From March to September

DURATION

2-3 hours by bicycle and 4-5 hours on foot

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Vilardevós

PATH

Serra de Penas Libres (Vilardevós)

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Key points on the route:

  1. From the road between Vilardevós and Lamasdeite, take the detour to Soutocovo (1) that crosses the Penas Libres mountains. At the junction, look out for montagu's harrier, western bonelli's warbler and subalpine warbler.
  2. Further on, the pine copses (2) may have red crossbills and eurasian siskins outside the breeding season. Nesting specimens of these species may occasionally be found.
  3. Continuing along the eastern slope of the mountain, look out for short-toed snake eagle, booted eagle and rock buntings in scrubland (3). Pay attention to the rocky outcrops to spot rufous-tailed rock thrush.
  4. On the descent red-legged partridge and tawny pipit may be seen.
  5. At the entrance to Soutocovo, particularly in the large chestnut groves to the southwest (6), there is a pair of common redstart as well as eurasian nuthatches and iberian chiffchaffs.
The birds

Forest birds associated with chestnuts still remain in good numbers in the area, and some of them are considered rare in Galicia: the booted eagle, stock dove, lesser spotted woodpecker, eurasian wryneck and common redstart are just some examples. Very locally, there are also other birds that are even more rare in Galicia, such as the eurasian eagle-owl, the rufous-tailed rock and blue rock thrushes, the tawny pipit and the rock sparrow. At sunrise the concert given by the birds in the chestnut groves is not to be missed.

Tips and resources
  • Head out to watch birds in the chestnut groves early in the morning since they are less active at midday between April and September.

  • Pay special attention to the raptors gliding throughout the area.

Arriba