This reservoir was constructed in 1976 at the confluence of the rivers Mero and Barcés in order to supply the city of A Coruña and its metropolitan area. Surrounded by large expanses of woodland and open fields, this Special Area of Conservation (SAC) covers some 529 hectares and is part of the EU’s Natura 2000 Network and one of the core areas of the Mariñas Coruñesas e Terras do Mandeo Biosphere Reserve.
Bird´s route: Abegondo-Cecebre reservoir
The shallow waters (maximum depth 15 m and average depth 6 m) make this the ideal habitat for numerous species of waterbirds, particularly in winter and during the migration season. The many species that spend the winter here include the Western Osprey and Great Egret. There are also large numbers of Eurasian Teals and Tufted Ducks, and the reservoir is also noted for the abundance of Little Grebes and Great Crested Grebes. Other typical water birds include the Gadwall, Common Pochard, Common and Green Sandpipers, Northern Lapwings or, when the water level is lower, European Spoonbills and Common Redshanks. In mid-winter, this site hosts up to 900 types of waterbird.
In spring and summer, the species that can be spotted in the nearby woodland include the European Honey Buzzard and Black Kite, as well as the Chiffchaff, present in large numbers. There are also countless small birds that are a common sight in settings such as these. Other birds of prey that can be seen year-round include the Booted Eagle, Goshawk and Sparrowhawk. The Eurasian Crag Martin is also a frequent visitor in winter. Numerous sightings of rare or very rare birds in Galician and the Iberian Peninsula have also been recorded.
The reservoir can be visited at any time of year. Vast numbers of Common Swifts gather here during the spring migration season (and occasionally Pallid and Alpine Swifts), mingled with Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, as well as Sand and Common House Martins. At dawn, the shores echo to the calls of the many birds that breed here: Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Robins, Stonechats and Finches. In autumn and winter, there are far more species of waterbirds than the rest of the year. It is also the perfect opportunity to look along the shores for Meadow and Alpine Pipits, as well as White Wagtail.
What to see
- The birdwatching tower standing on the shore in Crendes affords excellent views of the section of the reservoir corresponding to the River Mero. The route that starts from here leads to a wood situated on the reservoir shore to your right. Easy to access, it is ideal for spotting both water and forest birds as you make your way there and back. In the nearby meadows, Stonechats and Starlings are a common sight. If you are not travelling by car, spending some time in these areas will produce highly satisfying results: in fact, many local ornithologists rarely venture into other areas of the reservoir.
- There is another birdwatching tower in Orto, on the opposite shore. From here you can observe the same species, although the sun is often against you.
- The narrow bridge that crosses this section of the River Mero is the best chance of spotting Great Crested Grebes and Great Cormorants.
- At the foot of the dam (there is a car park next to it), you should keep an eye out for Grey Wagtails, as well as the Black Kites that can be seen throughout the reservoir from early spring onwards.
Getting there, accessibility and recommendations
If you wish to visit the Crendes Bird Observatory, at the bus stop and shelter,take the left-hand turning off the AC-221. You can leave your car at the side of the road, just past the houses. If you are travelling by public transport, the bus stop is just a few metres from the turning. To check the bus times, call the bus station in A Coruña on 981 184 335. The walk along the path from the Crendes Bird Observatory is easy, but even more so if you remember your waterproof footwear! All other areas should be visited by car. Remember not to go close to the shore as you will startle the birds. For the same reason, try not to make too much noise, and remember to keep pets on a lead. It’s better to let them loose in an area where they won’t disturb the birds so much!
The Crendes Nature Centre is just a short distance from the reservoir (in the municipality of Abegondo), offering lots of information about the biodiversity of this space. Check the opening times at http://www.abegondo.es/.
Nearby sites of ornithological interest
Many of the spots surrounding the Abegondo-Cecebre reservoir are home to the area’s traditional countryside fauna. A drive or walk at various times of the year will enable to discover species such as the Melodious Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Hawk-owl, Western Barn Owl, the Common Kestrel and many others. Beche reservoir, just a few kilometres away, is also well worth a visit. You will find a number of possible routes athttps://www.baiasantacruz.org/gl/panel/encoro-de-abegondo-cecebre.
Birds of the Mariñas
Other places to visit:
Headquarters of the Mariñas Coruñesas e Terras do Mandeo Biosphere Reserve’.
Castro de Cerneda fortified Iron Age settlement.
Hops and beer eco-route (see https://mundoestrellagalicia.es/)
Mariñán do río Gobia trail.
Crendes Nature Centre.
Useful telephone numbers and addresses:
For details of bus times, call A Coruña bus station on 981 184 335
Emergency services: 112
Abegondo Town Hall: 981 647 909
Betanzos Town Hall: 981 770 011
Cambre Town Hall: 981 613 128
Carral Town Hall: 981 670 002