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.
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! Check out the RSPB events pages to see when they run.
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.
Harbour porpoise from Bull Bay
The North Wales Wildlife Trust is 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. Head to their events page for more info.
Manx Shearwaters at Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island)
Legend has it that there are 20,000 saints buried on Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island). We can't be certain of that, but there are around 25,000 breeding Manx shearwaters.
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 Eryri (Snowdonia) and the Clwydian Range.