This area southeast of the Ribeira Sacra area is an excellent destination to watch raptors and birds typical of Mediterranean environments. Visit the narrow valleys of the Sil's two tributaries: the Navea river, which begins in the mountains of O Invernadeiro, and the Bibei river which, while born in Sanabria (Zamora), runs its course almost entirely through the region of Viana. Rocky areas and scrub are found and, with some luck, a number of gems of the Galician bird population can be found.

The valleys of eagles

The environment consists of a group of sparsely populated mountain ranges and valleys, covered in large part by heather, gorse and pine groves mixed with deciduous trees. At the bottom of the most steep valleys, the Mediterranean vegetation and rocky areas provide grounds for birds that are rare elsewhere in Galicia - those considered to be "typical Mediterranean". The O Bibei and Navea valleys retain some remnants of deciduous forest, especially oak and chestnut, but also birch and Montpellier maple. Near the head of the Bibei there are more flat areas of vegetation and rock that are also interesting for bird watching.

The routes
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Route by car: A Pobra de Trives - A Pobra de Trives

BEST TIME

From March to September

DISTANCE

67 Km

DURATION

3-4 hours by car

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Pobra de Trives, Castro Caldelas, Chandrexa de Queixa, San Xoán de Río

PATH

A Pobra de Trives - Navea valley (through Chandrexa de Queixa) - A Pobra de Trives

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Key points on the route:

  1. After leaving the nearby town of A Pobra de Trives (1), start towards Chandrexa of Queixa, circling the reservoir (2), to observe long-eared owls and iberian chiffchaffs.
  2. Continue along the road through Acevedo, Rabal and Drados (3) while watching out for montagu's harrier in summer and, in winter, northern harrier, common kestrel and even golden eagle.
  3. At the dam interesting water birds can be seen, such as the great crested grebe.

Route by car, on foot or by bike: Lower Bibei - Larouco and return (O Larouco)

BEST TIME

Spring (April to early June)

DISTANCE

26 Km

DURATION

2-3 hours by car, 6-7 hours on foot, 3-4 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Pobra de Trives, Larouco, Manzaneda, Quiroga

PATH

Lower Bibei - Larouco and return (O Larouco)

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Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts at Trives. In Bibei river (1), western bonelli's warblers and golden orioles can be seen here.
  2. Next, climb up to Larouco on a route that provides excellent views over the Bibei valley  (2) and from which special pay attention should be paid to raptors such as the short-toed snake eagle and the rare egyptian vulture as well as other birds such as the common redstart.

Route on foot or by bike: As Médulas de Caldesiños - Caldesiños (Viana do Bolo)

BEST TIME

Spring and late summer

DISTANCE

26 Km

DURATION

2-3 hours on foot (return trip) and 1-2 hours by bicycle (return trip)

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Viana do Bolo

PATH

As Médulas de Caldesiños - Caldesiños (Viana do Bolo)

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Key points on the route:

This is a short route through the area known as As Médulas de Caldesiños, an ideal place to watch many species of birds. Look out for several species of warblers, common redstart and, with some luck, ortolan buntings and rock sparrows. In the chestnut (1) groves the eurasian wryneck is common and the lesser spotted woodpecker can also be spotted.

Route on foot or by bike: As Ermidas - Soutipedre vineyards (O Bolo and Manzaneda)

BEST TIME

Especially in spring

DISTANCE

9 Km

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot (return trip) and 2-3 hours by bicycle (return trip)

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Manzaneda, O Bolo

PATH

As Ermidas - Soutipedre vineyards (O Bolo and Manzaneda)

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Key points on the route:

Start at As Ermidas, from where the route crosses the Bibei river (1) towards Soutipedre. Before reaching this village turn off on a track to the right towards the river to an area of terraced vineyards (2). Raptors such as the short-toed snake eagle and european honey buzzard can be seen along with other birds such as the subalpine warbler and blue rock thrush.

 

The birds

Among the prominent species at the bottom of the warmer valleys are the Eurasian scops owl, blue rock thrush and common whitethroat. In the more developed forested areas there are lesser spotted woodpeckers, common redstarts, western bonelli's warblers and eurasian nuthatches, while in loose wooded areas there are european honey buzzards, booted eagles and southern grey shrikes in spring. On high there are golden eagles and northern and montagu's harriers and it is also possible to spot griffon vultures flying.

Tips and resources
  • Take care when walking in mountain areas. In spring and summer the sun shines very strongly, so bring water and sunscreen.

  • Especially in spring, the chestnut groves are home to a high number of forest passerines of great interest that can be seen particularly in the morning.

Arriba