The Miño river estuary, a space shared by Galicia and Portugal, it is a wetland of exceptional features. On the Galician shore there are many different habitats that are home to a large population of birds, especially those in migration and wintering. But there's more: the coastline of A Guarda, open to the Atlantic, is a fine balcony to watch seabirds.

Birds in A Raia wetland

The mouth of the great Miño river flows into magnificent estuary and its waters collide with the Atlantic while leaving a load of sediment that, in the course of time, has given rise to a variety of marshy habitats of large size and great natural interest.

Many of them are found on river islands, such as Canosa island, which, being safe from human disturbance, are very tranquil for wildlife and especially for birds. Accompanying the waters of the Miño on their way to sea are further habitats such as beaches and small rocky stretches where species stop off during migration.

The steep stretch of the Concello da Guarda that opens to the Atlantic and its port, especially if there are storms, are excellent birding spots. 

The routes
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"Haliaetus" route on foot

BEST TIME

Between August and March

DISTANCE

11 km (one way)

DURATION

5 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Guarda

PATH

Port of A Guarda - Salcidos

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Key points on the route:

  1. This comprehensive route starts south of the port of A Guarda (1) where, in winter, surprises such as the black-legged kittiwake and mediterranean gull can be found. A coastal path runs along the edge of the sea and enters in the estuary to the Salcidos reedbed.
  2. At Santa Tegra point (2) keep eyes open for seabirds, gulls and waders in passage.
  3. Later, at Camposancos beach (3) and other nearby beaches, waders such as sanderlings can be seen.
  4. After passing the town of A Pasaxe there is a bird observatory (4) from which you can see the southern part of Canosa island, a good place for watching great cormorants, grey herons, little egrets, eurasian oystercatchers and eurasian curlews.
  5. A little further past the campground the route enters in part into the Salcidos reedbed. There is another bird observatory (5) that must be visited, as it offers views of Canosa island (6) where, in addition to the usual water birds, western marsh harriers, northern harriers and western ospreys can be seen. In migration season remain attentive to small birds, including the bluethroat.

 

"Maritima" route on foot

BEST TIME

From September to February

DISTANCE

4 km (one way)

DURATION

2 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Guarda

PATH

Port of A Guarda - Cala da Cetárea

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Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts from the port towards the north, but first review the vicinity (1).
  2. Remain mindful of the rocks to the shore, especially where algae gathers (2), as purple sandpipers and other waders can be found there.
  3. Look towards the sea where some seabirds such as the northern gannet can be seen in passage.
The birds

The best time of year for bird watching in A Guarda begins in late summer and lasts until the beginning of the following spring. At the end of the warm season, many species that nested in northern Europe return to their winter quarters. At this time many waders such as sanderlings and dunlins can be seen, as well as common ringed plovers, eurasian curlews and european whimbrels.

In winter the estuary provides a bird show which highlights, among many others, grey herons, little egrets, great cormorants and eurasian curlews. In this season, there are some surprise raptors: northern harriers, western marsh harriers and western ospreys can be seen here. The picture is completed by Anatidae such as red-breasted mergansers and small birds such as the common reed bunting.

In the stretch of Atlantic coast and particularly in the port, there are different species of gulls. Notable in spring is the presence of species typical to reeds and rushes typical species such as the water rail and eurasian reed warbler.

Tips and resources
  • Keep your distance when watching groups of gulls and/or waders on the beaches so as not to disturb them.

  • Bring suitable footwear (waterproof hiking boots) in autumn and winter to walk along the trails.

  • Use of a telescope is recommended from the observatories and from Santa Tegra point.

Arriba