Spring & summer wildlife in Mid Wales
There are bits of the Cambrian Mountains where the rarest species is humans. For the rest of the natural world, early summer is the busiest time of year, as the clifftops and woodlands burst with colour, and the ospreys and dolphins lead a star cast of wildlife.
You can spot dolphins almost anywhere along the west coast in summer. But to give your chances a boost, visit the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay and take a boat trip, or simply keep an eye out to sea from the glorious clifftop walks.
Mountain bikers and red kites both flock to the visitor centre at Bwlch Nant yr Arian. It became a red kite feeding station in 1999, designed to give the small numbers of kites a helping hand and to encourage them to gather together. Nowadays around 150 birds swoop to daily feedings, which take place at 3pm in the summer.
Lapwings were once common on farmland, but their numbers have dropped alarmingly. Ynys-hir is one of their most important strongholds, and they share this fabulous reserve with dozens of other species. There’s all kinds of habitat, from marsh to meadow, but a walk through the ancient oak woodland, when it’s carpeted with spring flowers, is a particular delight.
Cors Caron's vast raised bog is the most important in the UK, and supports a staggering amount of life, including around 16 species of dragonfly. They’re gorgeous to look at… and pretty tasty, judging by the number of hobbies - agile little hawks - that predate on them.
Old Warren Hill Iron Age hillfort has long surrendered to nature, and its wooded slopes are now the ideal home for all kinds of birds, while badgers live in the ramparts. In early summer it’s one of the best places in the area to enjoy bluebells and other ground flora.
The ‘witch’s pool’ was carved by a waterfall where the River Enig plunges down a wooded gorge. It’s especially lovely at Pwll-y-Wrach nature reserve in spring, when wood anemones poke like white stars through a yellow carpet of lesser celandines. Later on, bluebells fleck the woodland floor with shimmering blue and the heady scent of wild garlic fills the air.
When we describe this as the back of beyond, we mean it as a compliment. When you drive the Abergwesyn Pass, up the winding Devil’s Staircase, there are genuine moments when you wonder if you’ve passed through some time portal. Strike up into the hills on foot, head north, and you’ll be in the loneliest part of the Cambrian Mountains, the only human traces being ancient stone circles. Abergwesyn Common is splendid isolation, indeed.
Monty the osprey spends his winters in West Africa, but since 2011 he comes back home to Cors Dyfi each spring to mate. Over the years Monty and his partners have raised one to three chicks successfully each year. With any luck they’ll all be back again from April to September. Spring and summer are also the best times to see Cors Dyfi’s other plants and animals, which include nightjars, warblers and water buffalo, which graze the marshes and keep the reserve in tip-top shape.
Arthog Bog's small wetland, one of the few remaining fragments of the Mawddach Estuary’s raised bog, is a wonderful place to see weird and wonderful plants, flowers, butterflies and birds. With more than 130 species of plants recorded, there are colourful displays of marsh marigold and yellow flag in the spring and hemp agrimony, meadowsweet and ragged robin through the summer.
More than 30 breeding species of bird live in the willow and alder woodland of Withybeds along the River Lugg, including flycatchers, woodpeckers and little owls. In spring and early summer the wood is full of birdsong, which can be enjoyed by all, thanks to a boardwalk which is suitable for wheelchairs.