This corner of the Rías Baixas is one of the most attractive spots for bird watching in Galicia. Its mix of marshes, beaches, coves, steep cliffs and uninhabited islands attract unique species. Not everyone knows that, beyond its tourist beaches, there is a paradise to discover - one with thousands of birds from dozens of different species.

A paradise of birds in the Rías Baixas

This important bird watching area is composed of two distinct settings: O Grove and the surrounding municipalities, with different coastal ecosystems, and the Illas Atlánticas National Park, including notably the Cíes islands, Ons island and Sálvora island.

In O Grove and its surroundings we can visit sections of rocky coastline with beaches, marshes, dunes and the famous O Vao intertidal inlet. Around the whole area, also noteworthy is the existence of farm fields and old clay mines that attract more birds. In short, we are in one of the most extraordinary places for watching waterbirds and seabirds in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, where hundreds of species have been recorded, some of which are particularly rare or difficult to observe. The National Park includes islands where steep cliffs give way to placid beaches (such as the Cíes and Ons islands), other beaches with a softer profile (such as Sálvora) or lower and wooded beaches (such as Cortegada). Here, seabird colonies are the main draw.

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

"Tringa" route by car

BEST TIME

From September to February (waders and ducks) or April and May (spring migration and reproduction)

DISTANCE

37 km

DURATION

4 hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

Cambados, Meaño, O Grove, Sanxenxo

PATH

Cambados - Río Umia estuary - A Chaca estuary - A Fianteira - Arnosa - O Vao marshes - A Toxa island - O Grove - Terra do Porto estuary

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

Key points on the route:

  1.  Starting from A Seca near the port of Cambados (1) continue south along the río Umia estuary (2) (3), A Chaca estuary (4) and  A Fianteira (5).
  2. On the road through the isthmus of A Lanzada we can stop at any of the observatories (6), (7), (8). On this trip we will see most of the species present in the area: eurasian spoonbill, common greenshank, common redshank, eurasian oystercatcher, red knot, eurasian curlew and whimbrel, gadwall, eurasian teal and different gull species.
  3. We will finish the route at Terra de Porto estuary (9) where gulls and waders can be found.

"Melanitta" route by car

BEST TIME

From November to May (especially between late December and early February)

DISTANCE

27 km

DURATION

Two to three hours

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

O Grove

PATH

Mirador de Barreiros - Sanxenxo - Portonovo - Aios - A Lanzada chapel - Lanzada beach - O Vao marsh - As Pantoeiras - Paxareiros - Pedras Negras - Pateiro point

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

Key points on the route:

  1. From Sanxenxo (1) continue along the coast until O Grove. With your eyes continually watching the open sea (2), (3), (4), it is possible to spot more than a few species, such as cory's shearwater, the balearic shearwater or great skua, various gulls, the great cormorant and european shag, great northern loon and black-throated loon and, with some luck, the common murre.
  2. In any of the beaches on the tour we will see sanderlings and turnstones.
  3. Passing through the A Lanzada isthmus, we reach the marsh of O Vao (5), where it is possible to see spoonbills and an impressive number of various species of Anatidae and waders.

"Fulica" route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

April and May

DISTANCE

10 km

DURATION

3-4 hours on foot and 2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

O Grove

PATH

San Vicente do Grove - Area Grande - A Mexilloeira - A Bodeira lagoon - A Gandariña - Balea - San Vicente do Grove

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

Key points on the route:

  1. From San Vicente do Grove the route takes us to our destination: Bodeira lagoon (2).
  2. Here we can see both coastal birds, such as the kentish plover and the sanderling, and water birds linked to the wetlands, such as little grebes, eurasian coots, water rails and common reed buntings. Also to be enjoyed are many land birds such as the european nightjar, the sardinian warbler and the zitting cisticola.

"Alauda" route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

Between November and May

DISTANCE

13 km

DURATION

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

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

O Grove, Sanxenxo

PATH

A Lanzada beach - A Revolta - Os Leiros - Rouxique fields - Rouxique gravel pits - Rouxique - A Revolta - A Lanzada beach

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

Key points on the route:

  1. Leave from the car park south of A Lanzada beach (1) until you reach the naturalised Rouxique lagoons (2).
  2. Particular attention should be paid to the birds in various gravel pits and also in the fields (3) and dunes (4). This is a particularly fitting way to watch aquatic species such as water rail, kingfisher, grebe, coot and common reed bunting, as well as species typical to thickets, plot boundaries and fields such as the common kestrel, the lark and the sardinian warbler.

"Monedula" route on foot

BEST TIME

Spring and late summer

DISTANCE

17 km

DURATION

5-7 hours

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Bueu

PATH

Ons wharf - Canexol - Pereiró - Puntal de Fedorento - western coast - O Centolo - Melide beach - Ons wharf

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

Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts from the wharf (1) and follows the coastline of the island. Throughout the trip we can see the most characteristic species of this island and the National Park: the yellow-legged gull and european shag, in addition to a good number of both marine species balearic shearwater and northern gannet) and land species western jackdaw, zitting cisticola, peregrine falcon and northern wheatear).

“Charadrius” route on foot or by bike

BEST TIME

From October to March

DURATION

4 hours on foot, 2 hours by bicycle

DIFFICULTY

None

COUNCILS

A Illa de Arousa

PATH

O Vao beach - Camaxe beach - wooden fence - O Carreirón coastline - observatory - wooden fence and return

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

Key points on the route:

The route runs through the southern portion of Illa de Arousa (1). Along the way we will see different species of waders such as the kentish plover, sanderling, eurasian curlew and european whimbrel and eurasian oystercatcher, plus grey herons, little egrets, sandwich terns and several species of gulls. With some luck we will see other species of great interest, such as great northern loon, red-breasted merganser and black-necked grebe. There are also land species such as the zitting cisticola and sardinian warbler.

"Larus" route on foot

BEST TIME

Late summer

DISTANCE

4 km

DURATION

2 hours

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Vigo

PATH

Cíes wharf - Boca do Lago dyke - Cíes lighthouse

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

Key points on the route:

  1. The route starts from the wharf (1) north of Rodas beach (considered by some to be the best in the world).
  2. Midway along the route, there is access to the bird observatory (2) that overlooks the cliffs hanging over the open sea. From it, seabirds, their colonies and, particularly in the vicinity of the lighthouse (3), alpine swifts can be seen.
  3. The route crosses from the island of Monteagudo to Do Faro island, which is our destination.

 

"Aristotelis" route on foot

BEST TIME

Spring, late summer

DURATION

1,30 hours

DIFFICULTY

Low

COUNCILS

Vigo

PATH

Illas Cíes wharf - Faro da Porta

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

Key points on the route:

Part of this route is common to the foregoing route.

  1. Start from the wharf (1) north of Rodas beach, but instead of ascending to the Cíes lighthouse, continue along the sea (2).
  2. It ends at another lighthouse, the A Porta (3) lighthouse. On the way we will see colonies of yellow-legged gulls and other seabirds
The birds

Noteworthy around O Grove is the presence of thousands of waders, gulls of different species and other waterbirds such as herons and Anatidae, especially between September and February. The beautiful spoonbill is one of the iconic species that can easily be seen here. O Vao inlet, the A Lanzada bay, the gravel pits of Rouxique and the estuary of the Umia river are excellent observation points. The best time to visit the islands of Sálvora, Ons and Cíes runs from April to June (spring migration and seabird breeding) or from mid-August to early November (autumn migration). The colonies of seabirds, especially yellow-legged gull and european shag, are particularly attractive. A prior visit to the National Park website is recommended.

We can complete our journey through this natural area with an boat ride (the Chasula) from O Grove to 12 miles west of the island of Ons with the special purpose of watching migrating seabirds. This trip is especially fascinating in late July and early November, when there are many rare birds, such as sabine's gull and wilson's storm petrels.

Tips and resources
  • Pay attention to sensitive places such as lagoons, reedbeds and dunes. The flora and fauna are very delicate.

  • Throughout O Grove numerous useful bird observatories can be found. It is recommended that your visit be planned based on the position of the sun and the tides - the best time is the rising tide.

  • Do not forget to bring sunscreen and water, especially on the routes covering the islands.

  • Use of a telescope is recommended nearly everywhere, especially in O Grove.

  • Always respect the rules of the National Park.

Arriba