A festival of waterbirds and seabirds


The migration of birds from the north to their winter quarters reaches its peak this month. The coastal wetlands and capes are the best places to enjoy it, but we can observe fascinating migratory events almost anywhere. 

In September Galicia becomes the focus of attention of many birdwatchers from all over

Once here, the reference point is the Estaca de Bares cape. While August and especially October offer a host of outstanding observations, September is the month of true excellence. If travelling dates are flexible, it is best to go with the prevailing winds from the west or northwest, which bring the birds closer to the cape, and to avoid the easterly winds that push them away.

From the vicinity of this bird observatory we can spot thousands of seabirds of different species: the northern gannet, common terns, the arctic tern and sandwich tern, balearic shearwaters, manx shearwaters, great shearwaters and Cory´s shearwaters, scoters, great skuas, long-tailed and parasitic jaegers, black-legged kittiwakes, etc. A few hours provide enough time to watch thousands of migrating birds. As in August, a visit to the capes is also very productive for viewing if wind conditions are suitable.

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus)
Birds, though, are not only on the sea: all coastal wetlands undergo an extraordinary month with dozens of species of water birds from the far north

One of the most spectacular species is the eurasian spoonbill, which can be found in small groups or in large flocks in the Enseada de O Vao in O Grove where most will stay for the winter. Alongside them one can see nearly all species of waders that can be found in Galicia, ducks and herons, such as the grey heron, little egret and great egret. Outstanding places include the Rías de Ribadeo and Foz, a Ría de Ortigueira, the Ría do Burgo, a Ponteceso estuary, in Costa da Morte, O Grove, A Ramallosa in Baiona and Cabo Silleiro and the Miño estuary in A Guarda.

There is a wader which, curiously, is not often seen in wetlands, but rather in open, flat areas in the mid-mountains

Hailing from the far north, the eurasian dotterel may make stops lasting a few days in some parts of Galicia although their presence is not well known; the best places to find it are the Serra do Suído and Serra da Capelada around the Ría de Ortigueira and Cariño.

From virtually anywhere, even in the cidades, another bird with an amazing migratory behaviour can be found: the northern wheatear. It comes to Galicia directly from far away places, such as the British Isles, Iceland or even Greenland. This month, these small but striking birds are everywhere, especially in open habitats in coastal and mountainous areas. Other small migratory species such as the eurasian wryneck, european pied flycatcher, the whinchat, and willow warbler may also be seen at any point in Galicia.

Not to be missed