At almost any time of year, the region of A Terra Chá can hold ornithological surprises. Its flat relief and open ecosystems, where several lagoons, grasslands, wet meadows and flooded areas are located, are home to many bird species, certain of which are truly rare. 

Wetlands and birds in the plains

A Terra Chá is a vast region north of the city of Lugo set on a sedimentary depression that is characterised by its gentle relief. There are many rivers that cross it, the most famous being the Miño river with its well-preserved banks. There are in the region several lagoons of various sizes that host dozens of species of waterbirds throughout the year.

The Cospeito lagoon and Caque lagoon are not to be missed. In the past, the network of wetlands in the region was more extensive and had different characteristics. However, the development policy of the mid-20th century, which transformed wetlands in Spain, also had its dark side in A Terra Chá. Today, the lagoons and wetlands that resisted enjoy greater protection and public recognition.

At many points, the landscape is dominated by large meadows and open spaces that provide grounds for easily watching species typical of these habitats: A Espiñeira, next to the Cospeito lagoon, and A Veiga de Pumar are the most popular and enticing.

The routes
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"Pygargus" route by car

BEST TIME

December-January, April-June and August-September (although the route is suitable at any time of the year)

DISTANCE

45 km

DURATION

5 hours

DIFFICULTY

Ninguna

COUNCILS

Begonte, Castro de Rei, Cospeito, Rábade, Vilalba

PATH

Rábade - Feira do Monte - Cospeito lagoon - Veiga de Pumar - Caque lagoon

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Key points on the route:

  1. From Rábade, head to Feira do Monte (1).
  2. From there head towards the Cospeito lagoon (2), where there are several equipped observatories that enable us to observe many waterbirds, especially in winter.
  3. Next, take a slow walk through the A Espiñeira grasslands (3), which are a good place to watch northern lapwings in winter or little bustards and montagu's harriers in spring and summer.
  4. After that, drive to Veiga de Pumar (4), where very similar species to those present in A Espiñeira can be seen; in late summer it is a great place to watch lesser kestrel.
  5. The route ends at the Caque lagoon (5) (also known as the Bardancos lagoon), where more species of waterbirds such as eurasian teal, eurasian coot, little grebe and grey heron can be seen.

“Crecca” route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

Winter and spring

DISTANCE

3,5 km

DURATION

2 hours on foot and 1 hour by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Cospeito

PATH

Cospeito lagoon

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Key points on the route:

  1. From the interpretation centre (1) climb the mound (2), from which there is a good view of the entire area.
  2. After descending, follow the trail (3) around the lagoon, where there are several observatories (4) that can be used depending on the sun's position. Look for various Anatidae, such as teal and shoveler, coot, grebe, grey heron and, occasionally, purple heron, while listening to the ubiquitous cetti's warbler. An occasional sedge warbler or aquatic warbler can be seen in passage. black kites, Eurosian hobbies and others round off the cast of raptors.

“Cristatus” route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

From autumn to spring

DISTANCE

3,2 km

DURATION

2 hours on foot and 1 hour by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Begonte

PATH

Sand pits of the Pedroso lagoons

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Key points on the route:

  1. The sand pits still in operation were set on top of the former Pedroso lagoons. As they are abandoned after exploitation, water and time lead a fascinating avifauna to settle there.
  2. Starting from the entrance (1) on the N-VI road, take a circular track around the sand pits, stopping to look at the open waters (2) and shores. A good place to watch water birds such as the great crested grebe or birds of prey such as the black kite and the eurasian hobby.
  3. In the nearby Ladra river (3) it is possible to see black-crowned night heron.

“Ciconia” route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

Spring

DISTANCE

7 km

DURATION

2 hours on foot and 1 hour by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Castro de Rei

PATH

A Veiga do Pumar

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Key points on the route:

  1. Tour around the A Veiga de Pumar wetland (1) and nearby pastures (2). The wetland had until recently a large area of open water, although currently is practically a willow grove. It is an excellent place to watch white stork, common snipe, black kite, montagu's harriers and, with some luck, little bustard and black-winged kite. In late summer it is common to see lesser kestrels.
The birds

In the lagoons, particularly in the Cospeito and Caque lagoons, watchers can see many waterbirds such as the little grebe, grey heron and the common moorhen, although most noteworthy are the Anatidae such as the eurasian teal, which is present during the winter. During this time, there are northern lapwings, european golden plovers, redwings and fieldfares in the pastures, and, depending on the harshness of the winter in central and northern Europe, they may form very numerous flocks. Interesting species can also be seen in the grasslands during spring. Notable is the presence of the little bustard, which nests very scarcely, and montagu's harrier. In A Terra Chá is the only breeding population of eurasian curlew on the Iberian peninsula.

In late summer the lesser kestrel, which forms groups in communal roosts, can be seen. It is an excellent place to watch certain raptors. In addition to the lesser kestrel and montagu's harrier, there are the black kites and Eurasian hobbies in spring and the merlin and peregrine falcons in winter.

Tips and resources
  • The wetland birds are sensitive. Respect their well-being by watching from afar - use of a telescope is important.

  • A Terra Chá is mainly an agricultural and livestock region, so travel only on paths without entering the farms. 

  • In winter it is important to wear rubber or waterproof boots. 

Arriba