Nearly 200 bird species have been recorded in this densely urbanised estuary, on whose banks the largest city in Galicia is located and where, nonetheless, there are excellent spots for bird watching.

The San Simón inlet stands out with other beaches and reedbeds on both sides of the estuary. Outside the summer period, there are ample opportunities for bird watching. Let's discover them!

Birds in an urban estuary

The Ría de Vigo is an estuary with a narrow profile and dense population on its banks. Among the various populated areas the most noteworthy is Vigo, with a population of nearly 300,000. The estuary is bounded by the O Morrazo mountains to the north and the O Galiñeiro foothills to the south. In its innermost area it widens to form the San Simón inlet with significant numbers of ducks and waders in autumn and winter. In the area surrounding A Xunqueira beach in Moaña there are large groups of gulls and some waders and terns.

The shallow areas off the beaches of the outer zone of the estuary (Barra, Nerga, Samil) are home to concentrations of seabirds. The reedbeds of the Lagares river in Vigo and neighbouring Samil beach are grounds for a broad cast of gulls, waders and herons, as are the lagoon and coastal area of Balea point in Cangas do Morrazo.

The routes
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Route by car: Arcade - Barra beach

BEST TIME

Autumn and winter

DISTANCE

43 Km

DURATION

2 hours

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Cangas, Moaña, Soutomaior, Vilaboa

PATH

Arcade - Paredes - Vilaboa - Santa Cristina de Cobres - Meira - Moaña - Cangas do Morrazo - Balea point - Nerga - Barra beach

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Key points on the route:

  1. From the port of Arcade (1) there is an excellent view of the San Simón inlet, where Anatidae and waders, including spotted redshanks, can be found.
  2. Continue to the bridge over the Verdugo river (2), where kingfisher are usually seen.
  3. From there head to Os Caralletes (3), with one of the best views over the San Simón inlet and a fantastic spot for watching Anatidae, herons and various waders.
  4. From the small wharf in Santa Cristina de Cobres we make our way towards the intertidal zone of Riomaior beach (4), where sandwich tern and common waxbill can be found.
  5. Continuing west on the AP-9, we reach Domaio; take a walk until reaching an old naturalised quarry (4)  to see the mistle thrush and sardinian warbler. There is also an option to climb up to Chan da Arquiña and Monte Xaxan to see common kestrel and eurasian skylark.
  6. Returning to Domaio, make your way to the Moaña inlet (6), where it is possible to see water birds and monk parakeets.
  7. A few kilometres further west the route reaches Rodeira beach (7) in Cangas. From there Mediterranean and great black-backed gulls can be seen.
  8. From there head to the port of A Congorza (8) and the eponymous lagoon to see grebes and gulls.
  9. In neighbouring Punta Balea mediterranean gulls, sardinian warblers and waxbills can be seen.
  10. Lastly, on Nerga beach there are razorbills and murres and, on Barra beach, european nightjars and dartford warblers.

Route on foot or by bike: Paredes - Punta Ulló - Paredes reedbed - Tuimil creek and return

BEST TIME

Between August and January

DURATION

2 hours by bicycle, 3 hours on foot

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Vilaboa

PATH

Paredes - Punta Ulló - Paredes reedbed - Tuimil creek and return

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Key points on the route:

  1. It is highly recommended that watchers reach Punta Ulló (1), from where there are the best views of the wintering flocks of Anatidae eurasian wigeon, northern pintail and, in certain years, brant goose and common pochard). The great egret and western osprey can also be seen.
  2. In the Paredes reedbed (2), which is crossed by a dike, both common greenshanks and spotted redshanks can be seen.
  3. Circling the reeds through Cortes we arrive at Tuimil creek (3), where there are sedge and melodious warblers.

2 hours by bicycle, 3 hours on foot

BEST TIME

Between August and February

DURATION

2 hours by bicycle, 3 hours on foot

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Vigo

PATH

2 hours by bicycle, 3 hours on foot

Maybe some resources are not geo-referenced and they are not being displayed.

Key points on the route:

This is an excellent route for watching migrating and wintering birds.

  1. In the northern part of Samil beach (1) mediterranean gulls and sandwich terns can be seen.
  2. From there, we continue through the wooded thickets and small chalets at the head of the beach (2) where there are monk parakeets and spotless starlings.
  3. Continue along the northern bank of the reeds (A Quintela) to a small bridge over the Lagares river (3). black-headed gulls, kingfishers and waxbill can be seen there.
  4. Circle around the Coruxo de Abaixo treatment plant (4) noting the presence of birds in the reeds.
  5. Walk towards the small A Fontaíña beach (5). In the sand you can see various waders and gulls and, while watching the sea off the beach, scoters, great northern loons, cory's shearwaters and balearic shearwaters.
The birds

The western osprey, eurasian wigeon, spotted redshank and, in some years, the brant goose, great egret and common pochard are the most interesting species in the San Simón inlet. At the right time, scoters, grey plovers, dunlins, mediterranean gulls, common gulls and sandwich terns can be seen on A Xunqueira beach. Further west, in front of Barra and Nerga, it is possible to find razorbill and murre and a number of balearic shearwaters and european shaqs, in addition to sandwich terns. Lastly, in the reedbed of Lagares, water rails and several species of gull are common.

Tips and resources
  • The best times to watch the birds on beaches in the area are early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

  • Use of a telescope throughout the San Simón inlet is recommended.

Arriba