Wildlife

Ribadeo birding

Spotless Starling

If you are looking for a self catering holiday in Galicia with the opportunity of seeing some great birds, then look no further. The area around Granero del Burro is a great place for birdwatching and if you know where to go you can usually come across some species that you would not see in the UK. During Spring and Autumn, the coastal spots usually turn up some unusual vagrants.

Honey Buzzard

This year was no exception. During the Summer months you can usually see Honey Buzzards around the barn and a pair of Red Backed Shrikes bred a couple of fields away. At the barn there were pairs of White Wagtails, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits and Cirl Buntings breeding. You can always see Spotless Starlings, Yellow Legged Gulls, Fan Tailed Warblers, Sardinian Warblers and Rock Buntings in the area. We have resident Buzzards and Ravens, and on still Summer days the air is filled with the sounds of the Cuckoo and Turtle Doves

White Rumped Sandpiper

This Autumn was particularly good for unusual visitors with Pectoral Sandpiper, 4 White Rumped Sandpipers, Richard’s Pipit and Yellow Browed Warbler all been seen. Snow buntings have also been seen this Winter

You can have a look at the following websites to keep an eye on what has been seen recently. 

Aves de Villadún-Penarronda

Ría de Ribadeo

Ribadeo Birding

Birdwatching in Galicia

And while you are here if you would like to be taken on a guided tour of the birdwatching hotspots then this is possible. Just e mail us and I will be happy to do this


Exploring the Ribadeo estuary

Nuevo barco agamar
The Summer months are a fantastic time to explore the Ribadeo (or Eo) estuary. There are a number of ways to do this, but probably the easiest is by the tourist boat that operates from the port in Ribadeo. The Nuevo Agamar costs 5€ per person and leaves Ribadeo every half hour. It travels across the estuary to Castropol and then on to Figueras, before returning to Ribadeo via the puente de los Santos (bridge across the estuary).
Boat trip from Ribadeo 052
In Figueras there is a shipbuilding yard called Astilleros Gondán. It is well known in Spain for building support vessels for the oil industry. From the Nuevo Agamar, you travel right under the boat that is under construction. There is also a nice restaurant in Figueras called Peñalba so you can get the boat from Ribadeo or Castropol, travel to Figueras, have lunch and then get the boat back to where you started from, after lunch. Alternatively you can get the boat to Castropol and have lunch in el Rison
Ribadeo
For those of you that prefer more of a challenge, you can hire a self drive boat and explore the estuary yourselves. These can be hired from La Flote in the port of Ribadeo. They are small boats with outboard motors and prices start at 30€ per hour for the smallest engined ones. A whole day costs 130€. They are great if you want to get to the huge sandbank that appears at low tide. This is great for a picnic, playing football or just relaxing. You can anchor the boat and do what you want. 
Boat trip from Ribadeo
You can also explore the estuary on foot and it is a birdwatching mecca all year round. Probably the best walk is between Figueras and Castropol. There is a footpath that winds its way around the edge of the estuary and you get great views out over the water towards Ribadeo and Castropol. In the Winter it is a great place for wildfowl and during the migration there are lots of waders, Spoonbills and Egrets. There is normally a wintering Osprey. Have a look at Castropol, Asturias
Castropol


Interesting birdlife around Granero del Burro

RockBunting
For the last few days there has been a male Rock Bunting picking away at the grass seed outside the kitchen window at Granero del Burro. He seems to spend the whole day in or around the garden and can be feeding for up to 2 hours at a time!! They are a resident species in the area but it is unusual to have one as a garden visitor. For any photographer, he is very photogenic. He is even close enough to get some shots with a standard camera on full zoom!!
DSC01420
The weather has been great recently and today was a perfect day for a walk from the barn in the local valley. There are some local pigs in a field not far away and they love Chestnuts. There were some old ones left over from the Autumn, so they had a late Christmas treat. There was also plenty of birdlife. Firecrests, Green Woodpeckers, Long Tailed Tits, Iberian Chiffchaff, Cirl Buntings and plenty of Buzzards overhead. There was even an old fox trotting across one of the fields.
If you want to check out the local birdlife have a look at Aves de Villadún-Penarronda and Ría de Ribadeo

Interesting birdlife in Asturias

Kingfisher

October is always a good time to get out and about to see what birdlife there might be. The Autumn migration can always turn up a few surprises. A couple of recent days out provided very fruitful. A walk around the Eo estuary between Figueras and Castropol at high tide was very productive. There were a pair of Kingfishers flying up and down the shoreline and perching on the rocks. It is always unusual to see Kingfishers doing this as in the UK they are normally just seen on freshwater rivers and lakes. There were also Bar Tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Greenshank, Curlew, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Little Egret, Mediterranean Gull and Peregrine Falcon.

Wryneck

Another day out around Penarronda beach proved to be very rewarding as well. In the fields above the beach there was a Crested Lark as well as plenty of Spotless Starlings. These are joined in the Winter by normal Starlings and this is a good place to see them together and check out the difference. There were also 3 Wrynecks in an adjacent field, all sitting on fence posts and looking great in the Autumn sunshine. The Zitting Cisticolas were very much in evidence - they are always much easier to see in the Autumn. There was also a Cetti's Warbler calling.

Crested_Lark

Both of these places are less than half an hour from Granero del Burro.


Walking in Asturias - Pesoz

View of Pesoz
Pesoz is a beautiful little village in the Asturian hills about 1 hours' drive from Granero del burro. Click here for a map of Pesoz. There is a wonderful round walk which takes about 4 hours (walking slowly) and meanders its way up and down the hills and along the river side in the valley bottom. Click here for a map of the walk.

River near Pesoz

On the way back to Pesoz there is the Molino de Sequeiros which is a beautiful old mill next to the river. Inside it is still intact and next to it is a beautiful plunge pool which would be great for a Summer dip. There is even a picnic table here!

Molino de Sequeiros

When you get back to Pesoz there is a fantastic little restaurant called As Cortes which serves great traditional food at very low prices. Last Saturday, the Menu del dia was €12 each!! After a late lunch you can visit the abandoned village of Argul nearby. There are only about a dozen houses and most of them were abandoned many years ago. A few have been restored but it is both a sad and interesting place.

Argul

If you want to make it a really full day you can then go and have a look at the dam at Grandas de Salime. There were some Crag Martins nesting under the dam wall and a pair of Choughs overhead. It is hugely impressive and you can see all the remnants of the buildings that were built during its construction. There is a nice bar nearby to have a drink at the end of the day.

Dam at Grandas de Salime


Shellfish Farm near Rinlo

Shellfish Farm - Rinlo 
Over the weekend we visited the old Shellfish Farm near Rinlo. Rinlo is about 30 minutes from Granero del burro and is a beautiful spot for a drink, lunch or just a relaxing wander. The Shellfish Farm is a few minutes to the West of the village and is well worth a visit. It is just over a 100 years old and the main building housing all the tanks has the most incredible roof. There is also some interesting graffiti inside.

Interesting graffiti 
Outside you can see the natural pools where the shellfish were kept although years of being battered by the sea have taken their toll. There are a couple of small islands just off the rocks and it is wonderful place to watch the waves crashing onto the shore. There were Cormorants and Shag together on one of the islands, and Turnstones, Grey Plover and Redshank on the other.

Shellfish Farm, Rinlo 
 


Beaches in Galicia

Os Castros beach at high tide 
On Sunday we decided to go out for lunch as the weather was fantastic, so we headed for the coast and a nice place called Yenka. It is a fantastic place in the Summer to have a drink outside after a day on the beach. However, it is open all year round, and although it doesn't look much from outside (or inside!), the food is very good. We had a wonderful Fish Soup, some nice Braised Lamb and a tasty Cheesecake. All washed down with wine and coffee for 12 Euros each! This bar restaurant is about 30 minutes from Granero del burro.

View towards Ribadeo 
After lunch we went to Las Islas beach which is one of three beaches next to each other. The others are Xuncos and Los Castros. Have a look here for more details. The waves looked fantastic and we had the Islas beach to ourselves. There was a pair of Black Redstarts playing on the wall next to us, and lots of Goldfinches on the telegraph wires above us.

Las Islas beach


Spring has arrived at Granero del burro

Primroses at Granero del burro 
This weekend the weather was beautiful with temperatures up to 15 degrees, and there were signs of Spring everywhere around Granero del burro. Just below the barn there was a beautiful Firecrest in the hedge as well as the male Cirl Bunting singing his heart out from the top of a bush. There were also a pair of Jays messing around in the trees and our resident Long Tailed Tits were playing around as well.

Cirl Bunting 
All the trees have got buds on them, the Cherry trees are out, and there are Catkins and Pussy Willow everywhere. The grass is growing like crazy, the sheep have got their lambs and even the local goat has got a baby kid. The primroses at Granero del burro are all out and due to the good weather, we planted our Sweet Peas at the weekend.

Firecrest 
As is often the case, when you think Spring is here, the temperature plummets. Today it is 9 degrees!!


Beaches in Asturias

La Paloma beach 
Yesterday was a beautiful day so we decided to go and visit some of the fantastic beaches in Asturias. The Asturian coast is only 20 minutes from Granero del burro.

The first beach we stopped at is a tiny one called La Paloma. This is near Tapia de Casariego and yesterday was idyllic. There was no-one there and it was so warm you could have sat and had a picnic.

Serantes beach 
The second beach we visited is Serantes beach. This is nearer to Ribadeo and is a bit bigger. Here we had a picnic in the sunshine and watched all the Gulls splashing around in the water. In the Summer there is a bar at this beach.

Penarronda (3) 
The third beach we called in at is Penarronda. This is a huge beach and is extremely popular in the Summer months. Yesterday it was deserted except for one family. There were Zitting Cisticolas all over the place as well as a pond full of frogs calling. In the adjacent fields there were both Cattle and Little Egrets. Here there is also a bar in Summer.

Arnao beach 
The last beach we visited is Arnao beach where there were Curlews and Golden Plover flying around overhead. This is in the mouth of the Eo estuary and sits on the opposite side to Ribadeo. It is a steep walk down to the beach but well worthwhile. There are some fantastic huge caves in the rocks. About half a kilometre away is a great picinic area with built in barbecues, chairs and tables. Once again in Summer there is a bar here!!

All in all a fantstic day and hard to believe it is still February. This is worth bearing in mind for holidays during the Winter months - you can enjoy wonderful beach days even at this time of year.


Castropol - Asturias

Castropol

On a windy but pleasant October day we walked from Figueras to Castropol and back (about 8 miles). Figueras is about 20 minutes from 'Granero del burro', Castropol slightly less. They are both on the Eastern side of the Eo estuary which forms the border between Asturias and Galicia. If you do the walk form Figueras you can have a nice lunch in the port area of Castropol - Rison is a lovely little restaurant to eat in.

Spoonbill 
The Eo estuary is a fantastic place for wildlife and during the Winter months there are thousands of ducks - Wigeon, Teal, Pintail and Mallard. In October there were a few Spoonbills, lots of Little Egrets, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Spotted Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Mediterranean Gull and a few late Sandwich Terns. It is always worth a look as there are lots of birds that turn up here on migration

Eo estuary