Spring & summer wildlife in North Wales

The wildflowers are erupting, the black grouse are getting jiggy, the porpoises are performing, and masses of seabirds are gathering on the clifftops. It’s the busiest time of year for wildlife in North Wales, so here are just ten of the natural wonders for you to enjoy. 

  • A tern flying across Cemlyn Bay with a fresh caught fish in it's beak.
    A tern flying over Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey by flickr quickr

    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.

  • A black grouse on the Welsh Moors in North East Wales
    Black grouse, North East Wales by Mick Sway

    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!

  • Heather

    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.

  • Bluebells

    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

  • A pair of butterflies at the Great Orme, Llandudno
    Butterflies, Great Orme in Llandudno by Andy Ingham

    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

  • Large numbers of breeding pairs of seabirds on South Stack cliffs on Anglesey
    Breeding pairs of seabirds on South Stack cliffs, Anglesey by Dave

    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 Stacks cliffs teaming with seabirds is of the great wonders of the natural world.

  • Porpoise swimming off the coast of Anglesey in Bull Bay
    A porpoise in Bull Bay, Anglesey by Dave

    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 Shearwater
    Manx Shearwater

    There are supposed to be 20,000 saints buried on this little island. Not sure about that, but there are certainly 14,000 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 rent.

  • Fairy Glen near Conwy
    Fairy Glen, Conwy

    There are a couple of Fairy Glens in the area (there’s a cracker on the River Conwy near Betws y Coed) but if you’re staying on the North Wales coast, this urban nature reserve gives an instant green escape into a wooded dingle which follows the course of the River Colwyn out of town. 

  • 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. 

More information about wildlife in Wales