Nestling on the east shore of Betanzos Ria, the Souto Bird Observatory affords spectacular panoramic views of the right bank of the River Mandeo estuary, just before the mouth. Vast expanses of reed beds and halophilic meadows, crisscrossed by a host of channels, from one of Galicia’s largest coastal marshlands, included in the European Union’s Natura 2000 Network and the Ría de Betanzos-Mandeo Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The path leading to the observatory also crosses well-conserved traditional countryside.
Bird´s route: Souto Observatory
Common anatidae in this area include the Mallard, Northern Shoveler and the Eurasian Teal. On the banks of the channel, it is also easy to spot Dunlins, Eurasian Curlews, Common and Green Sandpipers, Grey Plovers, Grey Herons, Little Egrets and, if you are lucky, the Odd Water Rail and more than one European Spoonbill. During the migration season, they are joined by various species of waders. You will also be able to observe Western Ospreys, Black Kites and Western Marsh Harriers flying low over the reed beds. Furthermore, at varying times of the year, the fields behind the shores are home to European Turtle Doves, Western Barn Owls, Hawk-owls, Cuckoos, European Green Woodpeckers, Common House Martins, Red-rumped Swallows, Eurasian Crag Martins and Sardinian Warblers… In autumn, the fields are visited by species such as the Northern Wheatear, European Pied Flycatcher or the Willow Warbler. Western Yellow Wagtails and Zitting Cisticolas breed among the shore reeds, which also provide a winter home for Common Reed Buntings.
The diversity and numbers of birds reach their height between the months of September and April, and in particular between November and January. However, in late spring and summer, this is the ideal location for spotting species such as the Black Kite, Western Yellow Wagtail and European Turtle Dove.
What to see
We strongly recommend you spend as much time as you can in the observatory: the longer you are there, the more species of birds you will be able to watch.
Getting there, accessibility and recommendations
After parking next to the Church of Santa María de Souto, in Paderne, off the N-651 road, make your way towards the ria along Parroquia Souto street and then, with the observatory practically within sight (it is situated next to a number of greenhouses), follow the path leading to it, although you must first cross the railway track, naturally taking all due care and precaution.
Paderne Town Hall has published information on its website: http://concellodepaderne.com/pages/entorno
A Coruña Provincial Council’s Plan Mandeo website features two countryside guides for this natural space that can be downloaded at: http://www.riomandeo.com/index.php?s=24&su=29&su2=43&cat=su2
Ría de Paderne Visitor and Interpretation Centre: http://auladaria.blogspot.com/
Nearby sites of ornithological interest
You can combine birdwatching at the observatory with the nearby route from Miño beach and marshland, included in this guide.
Birds of the Mariñas
Other places to visit:
Both the Church of Santa María de Souto and the Church of San Pantaleón das Viñas date back to the 12th century.
O Pedrido Bridge, built in the mid 20th century, is one of the area’s finest civil engineering landmarks.
Ría de Paderne Visitor and Interpretation Centre.
Useful telephone numbers and addresses:
Emergency services: 112
Paderne Town Hall: 981 797 001