In this cold month with short days we can see an impressive number of speciesresidents(present throughout the year) are joined by wintering birds from more northern latitudes that find in many of our natural areas a perfect winter retreat.

In winter, it is impossible to avoid the magnetism of the coastal wetlands

The Rías de Ribadeo e Foz, the Ría de Ortigueira, the Valdoviño e Doniños lagoons in Ferrolterra, the Ría do Burgo, the Ría de Ponteceso in A Costa da Morte, Carnota and Louro, O Grove, the Ría de Vigo and A Guarda are natural areas where watchers can see dozens of different species, at times in large numbers, which stay in the area far removed from the cold north.

Waders such as eurasian curlews, black-tailed godwits, grey plovers, curlews, dunlins and common ringed plovers can be seen in the company of grey herons and egrets, great cormorants, spoonbills, northern pintails and eurasian wigeons, northern shovelers, teals and hundreds of different species of gulls. At times, rare birds that appear with near regular frequency, such as the brant goose and greater scaup, can be seen.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Northern Raven (Corvus corax)
It is a good time to visit the beaches and sheltered coastal areas

It is a good time to visit the beaches and sheltered coastal areas. Seabirds such as murre, black-necked grebe, great northern loon and red-breasted merganser can be found there. Good places include the middle section of the Ría de Ribadeo, Ría de Ortigueira and his neighbour that of Ladrido, the Ría de O Burgo, the Ponteceso estuary in A Costa da Morte, the intermediate section of the Ría de Muros and Noia, A Lanzada beach in O Grove, A Costa da Vela and Cabo Udra, the Ría de Vigo and A Guarda.

The Inland wetlands

Inland wetlands such as all the wetlands of Terra Chá also host dozens of species, particularly Anatidae such as eurasian teal and northern shoveler. In addition, snipes and grey heron can be seen. A few hours of patience will bear their fruit in other inland wetlands as the A Limia sand pits or reservoirs of San Martiño, Castrelo do Miño e Baixo Avia, Vilagudín and Vilasenín, Fervenza-Baíñas or the famed Abegondo-Cecebre.

A Terra Chá is the most suitable place to see a wintering bird nearly by definition: the lapwing which, if the cold sets in heavily in central and northern Europe, can reach staggering numbers. In addition, european golden plovers, fieldfares and redwings also make their way here.

In almost every meadow and pasture, especially in those that are wetter, it is easy to find a small bird that spends the winter in Galicia, the meadow pipit, with its characteristic calls.

Lastly, it could be thought that this month is very cold and unfavourable for certain birds that are assumed to be more frequent in spring or summer, as is the case of the common storks that returns -although it seems incredible- now in December -or even earlier- to its gradually occupied breeding grounds. The most conducive places to see them are A Terra Chá, the regions of Lugo and Sarria and A Limia. They defy the frost and even snow with great stoicism.

Not to be missed

  • The entire coast. Not only do coastal wetlands such as O Grove, the Ría de OrtigueiraA Guarda and the Rías de Ribadeo and Foz host a multitude of water birds; the mouths and middle sections of the estuaries and beaches are home to seabirds of great interest and uniqueness.
  • Inland wetlands, especially those of A Terra Chá, which also receive many water birds this month, especially sea birds. Also, pay attention to the countryside areas where various wintering birds such as redwings and fieldfares can be seen.
  • The Regions of Lugo and Sarria, A Terra Chá and A Limia now host storks [common stork] to spend the winter in preparation for the next breeding season.