Spring and early summer are the busiest time of year for wildlife in North Wales, so here are just some of the natural wonders for you to enjoy. 

Terns at Cemlyn Nature Reserve

Terns are our sleekest seabirds, and this lagoon nature reserve, separated from Cemlyn Bay by a shingle ridge, is a vital breeding site for these lovely swallow-like birds. The surrounding grassland, scrub, wetland and shore are home to a wealth of other birds, mammals, insects, wildflowers and marine creatures. But it’s the common and Arctic terns, as well as one of the UK’s largest nesting populations of sandwich terns, which are the star turn.

Heather at Gors Maen Llwyd

Gors Maen Llwyd's stunning heather moorland is a grand place to sit and find a bit of solitude. Not that you’ll be alone: it’s home to red grouse, black grouse, hen harrier, sky lark, meadow pipit, cuckoo, adder, brown hare, and the occasional passing osprey that soars above the purple heather.

Seabirds at South Stack cliffs

When the clifftop wildflowers explode into life in spring, so do the seabird cities that cover the cliffs of Ellin’s Tower, as the guillemots, razorbills, puffins, fulmars and gulls gather to raise their young. Seeing South Stack cliffs teaming with seabirds is of the great wonders of the natural world.

Lighthouse at Southstack
group of birds on cliff.
close up of two puffins' heads.

South Stack cliffs, Anglesey: lighthouse, razorbills and puffins 

Black grouse lekking at Llandegla

The black grouse is a handsome chap, as he well knows. Each spring the males gather on moorland, such as Llandegla, to perform an impressive love dance (known as ‘lekking’), shaking their tail-feathers and generally showing off while the females look on, like the judges on Strictly. The RSPB runs guided tours from late March to late April – if you can hack the 5.15am start!

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Bluebells at Coed Y Felin

Coed y Felin is a small but perfectly formed patch of ancient broadleaf woodland, which extends for about half a mile along the south facing slope of the Afon Chwiler Valley, is thickly carpeted with bluebells in spring

The butterflies of Great Orme

More than 20 species of butterfly flourish on Great Orme, but it’s the silver studded blue and the grayling that most excite lepidopterists: they’ve evolved into distinct sub-species on this hulking headland overlooking Llandudno

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Harbour porpoise from Bull Bay

The local Wildlife Trust are so confident about the spotting opportunities here, they organise an annual ‘Picnic with a porpoise’ each August, a relaxing seawatch at this prime location for porpoises and seabirds.

Manx Shearwaters at Bardsey Island

There are supposed to be 20,000 saints buried on Bardsey Island. Not sure about that, but there are around 25,000 breeding Manx shearwaters. You’ll need to stay overnight to see these nocturnal birds, though – and handily enough, there are nine self-catering houses for rentas well as the Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory lodge,

birds (Manx Shearwaters) resting at night.
baby bird (Manx Shearwater) facing left with island in background.

Manx Shearwaters, Bardsey Island - at night and a baby during the day

Lime grasslands in flower

May and June are the best months to see orchids and other grassland flowers on Mynydd Marion nature reserve, between Colwyn Bay and Abergele. It’s set on a craggy limestone ridge from which you can get a real sense of the coastline and the distant mountains of Snowdonia and the Clwydians. 

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