Cliffs, islands, estuaries, beaches, dunes, crags, scrubland and the lively Atlantic as a backdrop. Covering almost 200 kilometres, the landscape of the Costa da Morte -striking in its variety and fine state of conservation- offers many opportunities to enjoy its major bird-related attractions: the passage of seabirds and other water birds and concentrations of waders and gulls in autumn and winter. As if this were not enough, birds from unexpected geographical areas, such as the US, often come to the Costa da Morte.

The coast of life

This large coastal area between Malpica and Cabo de Fisterra hosts many bird habitats: cliffs (especially in Malpica and between Traba and Fisterra), beaches and dunes (such as Mar de Fóra, O Rostro, Nemiña, Lago, Traba, Laxe and A Barra), coídos (pebble beaches), lagoons (such as Traba and Mina de Coéns), marshes and reedbeds (the A Insua inlet being most notable), pine forests, heathland, gorse and farming plots.

During spring and fall migration, there is also a constant movement of seabirds in front of its major capes, which, especially with winds from the west, can be spectacular. The wintering ducks and waders at the mouth of the Anllóns are remarkable. Gulls nesting on the Sisargas and migrant and wintering birds on the larger beaches number into the thousands.

Furthermore, it should be recalled that this area hosts the last black-legged kittiwakes and murres [common murre] that breed in Galicia. The list of birds recorded on the Costa da Morte is vast: it includes 296 species, including a number of records of rare birds, which are mostly American but also Asian and even African.

The routes
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"Corax" route by car

BEST TIME

From mid-September to mid-June

DISTANCE

51 km

DURATION

All morning

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Cee, Fisterra, Muxía

PATH

Cabo de Fisterra - Ría de Lires - Cabo Touriñán - Muxía

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Key points on the route:

  1. At Cabo de Fisterra (1), with westerly winds we can watch the passage of seabirds such as the northern gannet, the balearic shearwater and the scoter. The raven [common raven] is also common.
  2. In the port of Fisterra (2) in September and early October, terns come out, as do razorbills and even murres in wintertime. From May to September pallid swifts are also seen.
  3. In winter, at the A Lagosteira beach (3) it is easy to see the great black-backed gull and eurasian rock pipit.
  4. The kentish plover can be seen at the O Rostro beach (4) year-round, and sanderlings and european herring gulls migrating and wintering can also be seen. The red-billed chough is also common there.
  5. Lires (5) is excellent to see the great cormorant, kingfisher and various gulls.
  6. In the fields of Frixe and Loalo (6) there are groups of eurasian tree sparrows, yellowhammers and, occasionally in winter, bramblings.
  7. Also in winter, a visit to the Nemiña beach (7) is essential to find a eurasian rock pipit and snow bunting, in addition to rare gulls such as the iceland gull or glaucous gull. Nearby fields (8) regularly host the rare Richard's pipit.
  8. On the way to Muxía (9) attention should be paid to the groups of gulls on the beaches and to the migrating birds.

"Aalge" route by car

BEST TIME

From mid-September to mid-June

DISTANCE

41 km

DURATION

All morning, starting very early (or at noon and all afternoon)

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Camariñas, Muxía, Vimianzo

PATH

Muxía - Camelle - Arou - Cabo Tosto - Cabo Vilán - Camariñas - Ponte do Porto - Muxía

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Key points on the route:

  1. In winter in the port of Muxía (1) the presence of european herring gulls and great black-backed gulls is common.
  2. On the Lago beach (2) common scoters can be seen.
  3. In Ponte do Porto (3) a substantial number of ducks spend the winter and kingfishers abound. 
  4. In winter, the rocks around Camelle (4) host the blue rock thrush.
  5. In autumn, Cabo Tosto (5) provides grounds to watch the passage of seabirds: the common scoter, northern gannet, skua, balearic shearwater and sooty shearwater. On occasion, a snow bunting can also be found wintering.
  6. From Punta das Forcadas (6), before arriving at the massif of Cabo Vilán, we can see the latest Iberian pairs of common murre on the islet of Vilán de Fóra.
  7. It is common to see red-billed chough and the dartford warbler at Cabo Vilán (7).
  8. In September and October, the Camariñas port (8) and Area da Vila beach (9) provide grounds to watch common terns, sandwich terns and little tern.

 

"Curlew" route by car

BEST TIME

From mid-September to mid-February

DISTANCE

58 km

DURATION

All day

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Cabana de Bergantiños, Laxe, Malpica de Bergantiños, Ponteceso

PATH

Malpica de Bergantiños - Ría de Seiruga - Corme - Punta do Roncudo - Corme - Ponteceso - A Carballa (observatory) - Laxe - Lagoa de Traba

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Key points on the route:

  1. In winter in the port of Malpica de Bergantiños (1), razorbills, european herring gulls, little tern and, occasionally, murres and great northern loons can be seen.
  2. The Seiruga area (2) is good for observing groups of gulls.
  3. In winter, the area of Mens and Cores (3) plays host to eurasian tree sparrows and red-billed choughs.
  4. In the port of Corme (4) it is common to see the great northern loon and european herring gull.
  5. To witness the passage of seabirds in autumn, one of the best places in the area is Punta do Roncudo (5): the common scoter, northern gannet, balearic shearwater and sooty shearwater, razorbills and skuas can be found there.
  6. Once in Ponteceso, watchers should scan the small marsh west of the bridge (6) in search of the great egret and various wading birds.
  7. From A Carballa (7) hundreds of ducks, waders and gulls can be spotted in the A Insua inlet.
  8. In winter in the fields of Traba (8), merlin, Richard's pipit and red-billed chough are common.
  9. In winter, tufted ducks take possession of the Lagoa de Traba (9), which is also a breeding and wintering spot for the common reed bunting.

“Morus” route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

From late August to mid-January

DURATION

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

DIFFICULTY

Low-medium

COUNCILS

Camariñas

PATH

Arou - Estrada CP-1602 - Santa Mariña - rampant dune and return

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Key points on the route:

  1. From Arou (1) (where the great northern loon and murre murre occasionally spend the winter) take the CP-1602 road to Santa Mariña (2), crossing pine forests in which european nightjars and bullfinches can be seen.
  2. On the descent to Santa Mariña there may be northern wheatears migrating and the willow warbler and european pied flycatcher flying around vegetable gardens (3).
  3. In the small port of Santa Mariña (4) it is common to see the razorbills and european shag.
  4. Crossing a coído (pebble beach), we move into the rampant dune and the pine forest of O Monte do Veo (5) (where ravens [common raven] and European hobbies can be seen). The trail continues to a small viewpoint overlooking the sea. From there you can stop and observe seabirds before heading back

 

"Calidris" route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

From late September to mid-January

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot and 2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low-medium

COUNCILS

Ponteceso

PATH

O Couto - A Barra beach and dunes - A Enseada da Insua intertidal zone - O Couto

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Key points on the route:

  1. From O Couto (Ponteceso) (1), take a dirt trail parallel to the inlet that leads from A Insua (2) (where the kingfisher, woodlark and migrating european pied flycatcher can be seen) to the new bird observatory (3) (here, it is possible to see osprey and the western marsh harrier).
  2. In the reedbeds (4) before the dunes it is common to hear the water rail and zitting cisticola.
  3. In the dunes (5) in winter, snow buntings and dartford warblers can be seen. The red-billed chough is also common.
  4. Once at A Barra beach (6) special attention should be paid to the kentish plover and sanderling. On the A Tiñosa islet (7) at high tide it is common to see groups of eurasian oystercatchers.
  5. Turning around the southern end of A Barra (8) and advancing toward the east, numerous waders can be seen and, further along, Anatidae usually concentrated on the A Insua inlet (9) can also be seen eurasian teals, mallards, eurasian curlews, common greenshanks and dunlins).
The birds

The cliffs and islets are inhabited by european shags, peregrine falcons and ravens, while on the beaches there are sanderlings, kentish plovers, snow buntings and large flocks of gulls, including in the winter the little tern. In the A Insua inlet there are eurasian oystercatchers, eurasian curlews, water rails and countless ducks, herons, waders and gulls. The scrubland with scattered pine trees are home to tree pipits, dartford warblers and european nightjars. Every winter, the bay of Laxe welcomes great northern loon, scoter and razorbill, and in the Traba lagoon the common reed bunting reproduces and the tufted duck and western marsh harrier spend their winters. In farming areas we can see yellowhammers, red-billed choughs and eurasian tree sparrows.

Tips and resources
  • A boat must be taken to reach the Sisargas Islands. You can contact the Confraría de Malpica for updated information (phone: 981 72 00 11 / e-mail: cofradia@cofradiamalpica.org).

     

  • Use of a telescope on the coast and in the Lagoa de Traba is recommended.

  • Avoid walking on the dunes: make your way around following the walkways (Seiruga, Traba) or marked paths (A Barra, Nemiña).

  • There are bird observatories in Cabana de Bergantiños (As Redondas), Ponteceso (O Couto) and two in the lagoon of Traba.

  • Be attentive to the wind: the chances of good observations increase when it is blowing west.
     

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