Preparing to say goodbye to the cold


February is an ideal month to watch -through birds- the transformation of nature: Although we are still in winter, many species do not realise it and leave the shelters where they stayed to spend the harsh winter and come into the light. 

The early days of February can be used to watch wintering waterbirds

The early days of February can be used to watch wintering waterbirds, as they are still present in Galicia. Find them gathered in the main coastal wetlands such as A Guarda, O Grove, the Costa da Morte, the Ría de Ortigueira and the Rías de Ribadeo and Foz. As in January, the large beaches and areas of calm open waters provide fine grounds for watching a multitude of seabirds. Groups of gulls may still have rare species such as the glaucous and iceland gull

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Brant Goose (Branta bernicla)
Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)

Further inland, wetlands such as A Terra Chá, the Abegondo-Cecebre reservoir and the Vilagudín e Vilasenín reservoir remain good places to watch waterbirds such as Anatidae, grey herons and great crested grebes.

However, small and subtle changes are underway. A visit to the coastline, particularly the Cíes and Ons islands in Illas Atlánticas de Galicia Maritime Terrestrial National Park,, coupled with a little skill and luck, provides a chance to see to the first european shags nesting on steep cliffs and coastal caves. The Costa da Morte and Costa de Dexo are also good locations to see these species.

From the middle of the month, wintering waterbirds begin to return to their breeding groundsin northern Europe and their number is drastically reduced. However, on the coast the numbers are offset by migratory species on their way north. Capes, beaches and coastal wetlands begin to host lesser black-backed gulls, which stop briefly to sleep or eat on beaches, and northern gannetst.

Another change is that the first migratory birds very timidly begin to arrive to nest in Galicia. A very early riser, the barn swallow is common and visible in small numbers at the end of the month in inland areas.


Not to be missed