Spring & summer wildlife in South Wales

In this most populated corner of Wales, wildlife is everywhere you look. There’s plenty of glorious countryside in Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan, while in the old industrial areas, wildlife has reclaimed its place. 

  • An avocet flying about the lake at Goldcliff
    Avocet at Goldcliff Lagoons near Newport in the Vale of Usk by Sue

    The RSPB chose the avocet as its symbol because this bird shows what conservation can achieve. Extinct in Britain until the 1940s, this beautiful wader has now established a breeding colony at Goldcliff lagoons on the eastern edge of the Newport Wetlands reserve.

  • An orchid display at the National Botanical Gardens in Carmarthenshire
    Orchids by Col Ford and Natasha

    ‘Improving’ grassland for agriculture has the unfortunate habit of wiping out diversity, but New Grove Meadows' blissfully un-messed-with meadows are a glorious sight in May and June when thousands of orchid spikes, set against other wildflowers, give a wonderful display of colour. The resident dormice also enjoy superb views across to the Black Mountains. 

  • Daffodils

    Our national flower is a staple of roadsides and roundabouts, but it’s still lovely to see native daffodil where it originated, in quiet woodlands. Coed y Bwl is the perfect place to enjoy a properly wild spring daffodil display, with a supporting cast of wood anemones and bluebells.

  • Bluebells

    The ruined remains of coal mines have almost entirely been engulfed by woodland at Brynna Woods Wildlife Trust nature reserve. Now it’s managed entirely for the benefit of woodland flora and fauna, as well as providing a natural haven for local people. There’s a lovely bluebell display in spring, dormice live among the trees, and bats have made excellent use of abandoned mine shafts. 

  • A dragonfly at Cosmeston lakes
    A dragonfly at Cosmeston lakes, Glamorgan Heritage Coast by Gareth

    A pair of flooded quarries are the centrepiece of Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, another great example of industrial ruins given back to nature. The reedbeds are home to 16 different species of dragonfly and damselfly, and the woodlands and meadows give a great display of native flowers.

  • A mint moth resting on a leaf in the Alun Valley, Glamorgan
    A mint moth in the Alun Valley, Glamorgan Heritage Coast by Cardiff Boy 2

    The high brown fritillary is a big, powerful butterfly which has gone into catastrophic decline in Britain. Local conservationists are making major efforts to boost its numbers in this last Welsh stronghold. Most of the works is on private land, but the public footpath across Old Castle Down is a great place from which to spot this rare beauty. 

  • A adder resting in the grass at Parc Slip Nature Reserve near Bridgend
    An adder at Parc Slip Nature Reserve, Glamorgan Heritage Coast by Janet

    Parc Slip Nature Reserve is the local Wildlife Trust’s HQ and flagship reserve, a 247-acre oasis with lots of cycle and walking tracks through its grassland, woodland and wetlands. In summer, the fields are ablaze with colour as oxeye daisy, ragged robin, orchids and many other beautiful wildflowers come into bloom. They hold lots of events here, including weekly Reptile Rambles to discover the reserve’s great crested newts, slow worms, adders and grass snakes.

  • House martin

    House martin

     by Dave McGlinchey

    Nash Point, the last manned lighthouse in Wales (until 1998) guides the way to a lovely clifftop walk along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. The multi-layered cliffs are beloved of geologists and house martins, a relation of the swallow and swift. House martins, as their name implies, usually nest on buildings these days, but cliffs like these are their original home, which they share at Nash Point with ravens, jackdaws and fulmars.

  • This former conifer plantation is being restored to the infinitely more biodiverse heathland which it once was. And the project is working beautifully, as Beacon Hill once more becomes a mosaic of plants like heather, bilberry, heath bedstraw and gorse, attracting birds like the nightjar, cuckoo, brambling, skylark and stonechat. 

More information on wildlife in Wales