Birdwatching in Galicia

Galicia, in North-Western Spain is renown for its culture, traditions, gastronomy and for being the final destination of the Camino de Santiago but it is also an excellent choice for those who are looking for bird watching holidays.

The unspoilt landscape and rich wildlife of Galicia makes it perfect destination to observe in particular migratory seabirds and cliffbirds like raptors.

We found a wonderful local partner we trust to show you the best birdwatching spots in the region of Galicia and ensure you have a wonderful nature experience.

Where to go to see birds in Galicia and what to expect?

In the Galician Mountains

There are several mountain chains in Galicia: from the extreme west of the Cantabrian Mountains, the Ancares, Courel or the Macizo Central, all are excellent places to walk and watch birds and other fauna.

Mountain birdwatching is especially attractive during Spring and Summer. We will find many birds of prey in the forest areas and scrublands.

In SouthWestern Galicia

Most of Galicia has an Atlantic climate but SouthWestern Galicia enjoys a softer mediterranean type climate where we can find European Bee-Eater, several Wrablers and raptors. The best viewing points are in the remote countryside near the City of Verín (famous for its Carnavale and having 2 Paradors in one city!) or the Serra de Enciña da Lastra Natural Park with its dramatic cliffs. 

If you visit in Spring we will enjoy sightings of many different types of birds and butterflies.

The Galician Coast

The Galician coast stretches for more than 1200 kilometres and is caracterised by the “Rías Altas y Bajas” (estuaries), cliffs and rocky areas, wetlands, beaches and lots of different ecosystems.

Yearound (except the peak of Summer), the Galician Coast is wonderful place to watch in their natural environment wildfowl, seagulls, waders…

In Autumn and Spring we will be able to enjoy the migrant waders and other migratory seabirds.

The best coastal place to spot migratory seabirds are:

  • The stunning Atlantic Islands National Park with the Cies and Ons Islands (only with a Government issued authorisation)
  • The Ribadeo, Foz and Ortigueira Estuaries, where we will find one of the most important wetlands in the north of Iberian Peninsula and amazing seafood in the evenings.
  • The Cape of Estaca de Bares, from August to November, to see one of the most important seabird migration in Europe: thousands of birds passing in front of the cape every day.
  • A Costa da Morte (the Coast of the Death), a fascinating and remote area full of dramatic landscapes with cliffs, coves, wild beaches and wetlands.  Famous for the fishing villages of Finisterre (the land at the end of the world) and Muxia, where most end their Camino de Santiago
  • The O Grove Peninsula, another of the best wetlands in Galicia and also home to the world-class Golf de La Toja and some of the best Spas in the region.  An excellent destination for birdwatching in Autumn and Winter with alternative activities for a spouse
  • The Corrubedo Natural Park, A Guarda and the Miño Estuary, the natural border with the North of Portugal. 

The River Canyons

Some of the most striking landscapes in the region are located in the center of Galicia where we find deep canyons where splendid and anciet vineyards join wild forest and cliffs. The best ones are the Ribeira Sacra with the Sil River Canyon and the Bibei Canyon. 

They are some of the best places to enjoy forest birds and raptors especially in spring. 

Offshore bird watching

One of the most amazing birding activities in Galicia is to sail offshore during the postnupctial migration of seabirds in front of the Galician coast, mainly from July to November.

We offer specials birding trips in the Arousa estuary or completely offshore on-board a traditional fishing boat, the Chasula. We will spot thousands of seabirds including species like the Sabine’s Gull, the Willson Strom-Petrel, gulls, wildfowl, herons, waders, etc.

Other Spanish birding places 

Spain offers wonderful birding opportunities. Nearby the Cordillera Cantábrica, Picos de Europa and other points of León allow us to observe high mountain birds. Some of the most interesting wetlands and steppe areas in Europe are in Zamora and Palencia a few hours away.

Further south, Extremadura is world famous for its truly amazing set of Iberian birds; the best-known place is the Monfragüe National Park but there are many more that we can access. It is home to the annual International Birdwatching Fair (FIO).

In Andalusia, the famous Doñana National Park is the main attraction.

In Central Spain, the Sierra de Gredos offers some of the most spectacular mountain landscapes that can be combined with observation of steppe and aquatic birds in a short journey.

Typical birds you will find in Galicia

Species Where to spot them in Galicia
 Montangu´s harrier (melanic)Half of the Montys in Galicia are melanics.
Balearic shearwaterOne of the most threatened seabird in the world spends several months in the Galician coast
Wilson´s strom petrelThis uncommon petrel is a regular in the offshore boat trips in Summer
Sabine´s gullAnother bird seen in the offshore boat in the last days of summer
European bee-eaterOne of the most colorful and cheerful birds in Europe.
Kentish ploverSome of the more dramatic beaches are in Galicia and the kentish plover lives in some of them
Egyptian vultureThere are very few but they have chosen to live in some of the wilder areas of the northwest
Golden eagleThey live in the main mountains of the northwest in really abrupt and spectacular areas
Blue Rock Thrush Spotting this bird means that you have already watched lots of birds in rocks, cliffs, woods and rivers, most of them, Mediterranean birds
Citril finch European endemic bird

Other wildlife

The coastal wetlands of Galicia harbour all type of fauna like wildfowl, waders or charismatics species like Eurasian spoonbill or Osprey. 

You might also spot reptiles, amphibians, like the endemic Gold-striped salamander and maybe brown bear, wolves, Iberian ibex and chamois among many others.

About our partner Birding Galicia

Our partner Birding Galicia (birding.gal) specialises in birdwatching tours in Galicia and North Western Spain.  The Director and guide is Xabier Vázquez Pumariño, a biologist, ornithologist and environmental consultant who has published many papers and books about birds, mostly from Galicia and León in Spain.

Xabier will help us design tailor-made birdwatching tours according to your birding and nature desires, knowledge, time available and the season. His company is involved in conservation projects. They do not carry out activities that could compromise the survival and welfare of the local wildlife and seek to help local communities through birding tourism.

The company is also involved in several conservation subjects in Spain. Their current pet project is the monitoring of the Montangu’s harrier populations, a specie which in less than a decade has suffered a great decline. They have been alerting the local authorities and are currently looking for public funding to help recover their natural habitat.

To find out more about where to see birds in Galicia head to the Official Galician Tourism website.

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Ultreya Tours

Ultreya Tours is a incoming Tour Operator specialized in organizing comprehensive and highly personalized walking tours for groups and solo travelers on the Camino de Santiago. Founded and based in Santiago de Compostela, we know the region of Galicia and the secrets of the Camino by heart. Let us introduce you to our vision of the Camino.

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