Why come bird watching in Wales?
One of the main reasons why Wales proves such a fascinating place to visit for bird watching is the wonderful variety of habitats that include ancient sessile oak woods, rugged offshore islands, river valleys, heather, moor land and vast expanses of salt marsh, home to a splendid variety of species.
These special habitats mean there is year round interest and with such glorious countryside on offer, it is remarkable more bird watchers don’t make Wales their first stop on a UK visit. The geographical location is superbly placed to pick up migrants from all corners of the globe and in addition to some very special breeding birds; the list of rare visitors is very impressive. For those who have visited us it is a revelation, for those who haven’t...! What are you waiting for?
Bird Trails in Wales
The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) has produced downloadable walking guides, ‘Trails in Wales’, containing evocative and stimulating walks through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Wales. Each walk has been specially selected for its abundance of bird life, ranging from red kites and choughs to dippers and Cetti's warblers and there is plenty of other wildlife to look out for too.
The six walks are graded according to their level of difficulty and there is one to suit all ages and abilities. Each has a detailed route map showing top spots for wildlife.
The trails include:
- Borth to Aberystwyth cliff trail
- Llyn Crafnant
- Llyn Mair
- Rhossili coastal trail
- Teifi River trail
- Further information from: www.rspb.org/wales
Red Kite Feeding Centres
Wild Red Kites are fed at Gigrin Farm, Rhayader, Powys every day of the year. With breathtaking feats of aerial piracy red kites compete with buzzards and ravens for choice pickings. Feeding takes place at 2pm GMT = 3pm in summer & 2pm winter (well, no-one tells the kites that the clocks change!).
Other sites include: Tregaron, Kite Country Centre, Ynys-Hir RSPB reserve near Machynlleth and Nant-yr-Arian Forest Visitor Centre near Aberystwyth.
The end of April is the peak time for territorial display and birdsong, and is a particularly good time for bird watching. By then our resident birds will be well into nesting, while a good number of spring migrants will be either newly arrived or due during the week. You’ll see redstarts and wood warblers in the Maentwrog woodland; the elusive ring ouzel and ravens in the uplands; sedge and grasshopper warblers in nearby wetlands, while out on the Llŷn cliffs razorbills, guillemots and cormorants will be hugging their nesting ledges with chough displaying and holding territory nearby.
A variety of walks are organised daily, visiting a range of very different habitats – woodlands, moor lands, lakes, rivers, marshlands, mountains, estuaries, beaches and sea cliffs. Previous courses at this time of year have frequently included sightings of 100 species, but, as always, good clear sightings and learning about the birds themselves will be preferred to the numbers game!!
Osprey Spectacle in Wales
Ospreys nested for the first time ever on record in Wales in 2004. Glaslyn Valley Osprey Project near Porthmadog in North Wales is a unique and special project that gives visitors and local residents the opportunity to see, understand and protect these magnificent birds of prey in the glorious setting of the Glaslyn Valley.
Ospreys are spectacular birds of prey that feed on fish and may have a wingspan of up to 2m. They feature on the Amber list, meaning that their survival status is threatened. While increasing in Scotland, they remain rare elsewhere (just three pairs in England and Wales). In the past, one reason for their decline has been persecution.
The RSPB believes the Osprey’s decision to breed in Wales represents a fantastic wildlife tourism opportunity for North Wales and the start of a bright future for colonisation of Ospreys in Wales. It therefore has been driving the Osprey project since April 2005, with the aim of setting up a visitor viewing platform and CCTV cameras to beam pictures of the adults and their young back to the local communities. As the law protects Ospreys, Wildlife Protection Officers and Rangers provide these special visitors to Wales with 24/7 protection for the duration of their stay in Wales.