“Nature, history, tranquility”


The Deputación de Pontevedra is making great efforts to preserve and promote this historic garden, always respecting the environment and the plants and animals living here. In the castle, you can find different habitats (a woodland, agricultural areas, gardens...), boasting a great diversity of wildlife. Therefore, the gardens of Soutomaior and its trails are unique for each visitor, who can enjoy a pleasant family stroll or take part in a scientific observation tour. Here, you will find a selection of the most important animal species found in the property, which are part of our living heritage.


Some birds are used to human presence and, therefore, are easy to spot; this is the case of the common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), a species that is easy to identify and quite common in our region. In general, it is greyish-grey with a distinctive white patch on both sides of its nape and on its wings. It nests in trees, but also forages for food in the soil. The long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) can be first recognised by its sound, as it is a very small and restless bird that tends to group in noisy flocks. Its feathers are greyish with black and white shades, but what is most striking is its long tail.

The European serin (Serinus serinus) is another loud bird that can be seen in the garden. It is quite surprising how such a small creature can sing so loudly. Males have striking yellowish shades, while females are more brownish and striped. Both its voice and appearance are similar to those of a small canary (Serinus canaria), as they belong to the same family. The Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) stands out for its powerful chirp compared to its small size. It is one of the smallest birds in Europe, being less than 10 centimetres long and weighing just over 10 grams. Its feathers, reddish-brown with fine stripes, are cryptic, which helps it to hide among dry leaves. Its song is melodious and vibrant, with long final trills. Another small bird common in our garden is the firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla), a very restless bird that is constantly moving around the branches, and, therefore, is difficult to spot.

Besides firecrests, there are other birds that surprise us with their acrobatic performances as they fly around our trees in search of food. One of them is the coal tit (Periparus ater), with brownish-grey feathers and a characteristic white patch on its nape. The azure tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), with a blue colouring, is another small insectivore commonly found in the gardens surrounding the fortress. The crested tit (Lophophanes cristatus), which stands out for its striking crest, prefers forest areas, so it is more commonly found in the woodland path, an area recovered thanks to the Deputación de Pontevedra.

But the Soutomaior Castle is not just visited by small birds. The Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops), which is medium-sized, can be also seen. It is a migratory species that spends its winters in Africa, very eye-catching due to its unique black-tipped crest, but has a bad smell. To protect their nests, young birds sprinkle intruders with semi-liquid excrements and also have the so-called "uropygial gland", with which they produce an unpleasant odour that scares off aggressors. The Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) is very attractive for its contrasting colours: white, brown, blue-black and greyish. As it is fond of acorns, it feels at home in our forest, as is the European green woodpecker (Picus viridis), a rather large bird, between 30 and 35 centimetres long, green in colour and with a black moustache and a red crown. The picture shows a male; it differs from females in its red moustache (which is black in females). They are often heard in the forest area, but are shy and difficult to observe.


Although they hibernate for a short period of time, from February it is possible to see some species on sunny days, either because they have just woken up after their winter dormancy or have emerged from their chrysalides. The arrival of spring turns the Soutomaior Castle into something spectacular, as it is filled with a myriad of colours. Azaleas and apple trees begin to bloom and butterflies flutter around them. In this case, a female cabbage butterfly (Pieris brassicae) and a red admiral (Vanessa atalanta), two of the most common lepidoptera in Soutomaior. Our botanical catalogue also includes several specimens of Lantana camara, a plant with very colourful flowers that attracts many species, such as the one in the third image, where a specimen of the painted lady (Vanessa cardui) can be seen.

Butterflies also visit the wild plants that grow spontaneously in the garden, so if we pay attention, it is possible to enjoy colourful surprises, such as the Icarus butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) shown in the picture. In the garden, we can see two of our largest and most striking diurnal butterflies: the Iberian scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii) and the Old World swallowtail (Papilio machaon). Both belong to the Papilionidae family, known as "swallowtails" due to the elongation of their hind wings.


Amphibians act as bio-indicators of environmental quality and are present in our garden. The salamander (Salamandra salamandra) is a harmless animal, but legends have given it an undeserved bad reputation. It is not advisable to touch them, as they have glands throughout their bodies that release irritating toxins against predators. Therefore, if you touch them accidentally, they can cause severe irritation on your skin, so it is recommended to wash your hands thoroughly. In any case, we recommend not to disturb any of the inhabitants of the castle. Among the reptiles, the ocellated lizard (Timun lepidus), frequently seen in the garden, is easy to spot sunbathing on the parade ground during spring and summer mornings. They are relatively confident, but always have a escape route nearby. They are characterised by their size; they are the largest species of the family Lacertidae in Europe. It can measure up to 20 to 25 centimetres from head to trunk. It has distinctive bluish spots on its black ocelli. The female is slightly smaller than the male and juveniles have whitish ocelli.