Very near the city of Ferrol, there is a stretch of rugged coastline with a large number of birds. San Xurxo, Prior, Santa Comba, A Frouxeira and Cedeira are some of the most attractive destinations for birds and most fruitful for bird watchers. Use the early hours of the day to take advantage of the ornithological wealth of this unique corner on the northern tip of Galicia.

Birds around town

The winding coast between Caranza (Ferrol) and the Ría de Cedeira boasts natural areas such as the Lagoa da Frouxeira -refuge for thousands of water birds in the winter- and various coastal plains and beaches in Doniños, San Xurxo, Ponzos, A Frouxeira, Pantín and Vilarrube. At all these beaches there are nearby wetlands where there are usually reeds or willows. The rocky part is the cliffs of Prioriño, Prior, the Gabeiras islands and nearby islets and the Forcadas and Candieira points.

Many of these places are breeding grounds for seabirds and all are excellent for watching migration. The As Forcadas reservoir (south of Vilarrube) and the Ría de Cedeira complete the list of attractions for our ornithological walk.

The routes
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Route by car: A Frouxeira lighthouse - Valdoviño

BEST TIME

Between August and December

DISTANCE

39 Km

DURATION

3 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Valdoviño

PATH

A Frouxeira lighthouse - Taraza - Lagoa da Frouxeira (south) - Valdoviño - Loira - As Forcadas reservoir - Vilaboa - Vilarrube beach - Pantín - Valdoviño

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Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts at the A Frouxeira lighthouse (1), where northern wheatear, red-billed chough and northern raven can be seen. Further south, whinchats, common grasshopper warblers and red-backed shrikes can be spotted in the fields of Taraza (2).
  2. From the A Frouxeira bird observatory (3), bitterns, spoonbills and common reed buntings can be seen with some luck, along with hundreds of Anatidae.
  3. From the Loira cliffs (5) it is sometimes possible to see the blue rock thrush.
  4. Further inland, in winter the As Forcadas reservoir (6) provides the opportunity to watch brambling and yellowhammer and, in summer, the red-backed shrike. At the end of the reservoir there are common pochards and tufted ducks, great crested grebes and coots. The ring-necked duck and red-crested pochard can be seen in certain years. In other parts at the end of the reservoir it is possible to find green sandpiperes and the spectacular western osprey.
  5. Between Vilaboa and Vilarrube (7) there are iberian chiffchaffs in spring and summer, bramblings in winter and eurasian bullfinches all year. In the Vilarrube dunes (8) there are eurasian skylarks and meadow pipits and, with some luck, Lapland buntings can be seen in certain winters.

Route by car: Ferrol (A Malata inlet) - Cabo Prior

BEST TIME

From March to June

DISTANCE

12 Km

DURATION

One and a half hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Ferrol

PATH

Ferrol (A Malata inlet) - Doniños - San Xurxo da Mariña - Gabeiras islands - San Xurxo beach - Cabo Prior

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Key points on the route:

  1. From the city of Ferrol, make your initial watching session in the A Malata inlet (1) to try to spot egrets, great black-backed gulls and pied wagtails.
  2. In the Doniños lagoon (2) note the presence of little grebes, water rails and iberian chiffchaffs.
  3. Further north, from the Lobadiz coastal castro (3) there are zitting cisticolas, sardinian warblers and dartford warblers. From here there is an excellent view point of the Gabeiras, where there are the difficult-to-find nesting european storm petrel, european shag and yellow-legged gull.
  4. On the San Xurxo beach (5) there are chances of spotting european herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, great black-backed gulls and sandwich terns. In the nearby reedbed, the endemic subspecies of common reed bunting can be found with some luck. In summer it is also possible to watch the eurasian reed warbler and the sedge warbler.
  5. Lastly, at Cabo Prior (6), the european shag, sardinian warbler and red-billed chough can be seen.

Route on foot or by bike: Lagoa da Frouxeira (Valdoviño)

BEST TIME

From autumn to spring

DISTANCE

4 Km, one way

DURATION

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

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Valdoviño

PATH

Lagoa da Frouxeira (Valdoviño)

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Key points on the route:

  1. This is a jaunt around the Lagoa da Frouxeira, with several points where a large number of Anatidae, herons and coots can be spotted along the eastern shore. The most important point is the bird observatory (1).
  2. The riparian forest (2) hosts many species, as do the reedbeds found along the route.
  3. On the beach (3), waders (especially sanderlings) and, in the winter, snow buntings can be seen.
  4. Keep eyes set on the sea to watch several species of seabirds.
The birds

The most important birds include the common reed bunting, which is highly threatened, although there are still significant populations in A Frouxeira and, occasionally, in San Xurxo. european storm petrel and european shag breed on the Gabeiras islands, and red-billed chough and snow bunting make an appearance in the dune ridges until A Frouxeira. The great crested grebe and eurasian coot breed in As Forcadas. In autumn, western ospreys can be seen with some luck. peregrine falcons and the blue rock thrush nest on the neighbouring coast. However, the crown jewel of Ferrolterra is the Lagoa da Frouxeira, an important area for wintering and the passage of Anatidae, herons and waders. Watchers can enjoy the resident population of gadwall and little grebe and the more or less temporary stop off of spoonbills and bitterns, the latter of which are very rare in other parts of Galicia.

Tips and resources
  • Use of a telescope is recommended for watching water birds. 

  • Attention should be paid to the cliffs, which are often unsafe.

  • Bird watching on beaches is best early in the morning because, after mid-morning, the presence of walkers and unleashed dogs scares the birds.

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