May is the month when spring reaches its peak in Galicia. Long days, sun and rain. Resident birds are in full breeding and are striving to feed their chicks. Summer birds, arriving from their wintering in Africa, are now with us. It is the ideal place to take to the fields and enjoy the song, without having to make great efforts, of dozens of species in the midst of the thousand and one colours that May gives us.

One of the most attractive groups for many watchers are the raptors

One of the most attractive groups for many watchers are the raptors. In May they are all here: from the common and ubiquitous, such as the common buzzard, the kestrel and the eurasian sparrowhawk, to the ones that only visit in the spring and summer to breed. As such, those that arrived in April (such as montagu's harrier, the eurasian hobby, the booted eagle, the short-toed snake eagle and black kites) are joined by others such as the european honey buzzard, which usually goes unnoticed because of its resemblance to the much more frequent common buzzard.

To see so many species, the best places are undoubtedly the large inland areas; one of the highlights is the Serra da Enciña da Lastra, where all these species and certain others can be seen by just strolling along some of the trails. Other good places to watch these birds are the Canóns do Sil, the O Bibei e Navea valleys, the Ribeira Sacra Norte and mountainous areas such as Calvos de Randín and Baltar, Pena Trevinca and Serra do Eixe, O Courel and Os Ancares and Montes de Cervantes.

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
European Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus)
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

Areas with open habitats such as A Limia, A Terra Chá or even mountainous areas such as Serra do Candán and Brañas de Xestoso and Terra das Frieiras are also good for raptors. If we pay attention, we will see montagu's harriers and northern harriers hunting in the meadows and in the scrubland that characterises these places.

In areas of scrubland and small forests within these inland areas, we can see with relative ease species such as the red-backed shrike, which comes from Africa to breed in our fields. It is a small, masked and particularly fierce bird that hunts small birds, mice, shrews, lizards and insects that it impales in shrubs or barbed wire to then devour.

May is the month of the golden oriole

The males of this species boast a spectacular yellow colour while females are more cryptic with their green tones. Its ideal habitat is in the well-preserved forests of the riverbanks. There, it is very easy to hear it singing, although it is more difficult to see because it lives under the tree canopy, away from prying eyes. One of the best places to try are the banks of the Río Tamega in Oímbra, Monterrei and Verín, the tail end of the nearby  San Martiño revoir or the banks of the Miño and Neira rivers in the regions of Lugo and Sarria.

May is also a good month for aquatic birds that build their nests in our wetlands

May is also a good month for aquatic birds that build their nests in our wetlands. Different duck species, great crested grebes, grebese, coots and moorhens can be seen in the lagoons of the A Terra Chá wetlands, various reservoirs such as the San Martiño reservoir, the Abegondo-Cecebre reservoir and the Fervenza and Baíñas reservoir, or coastal lagoons such as Xarfas in Louro (Muros) or Vixán in the Corrubedo Natural Park. The rare western marsh harrier and even rarer purple heron can be seen in the latter.

Not to be missed