There are so many birds and animals to see across Wales that it can be hard to know where to start. To help you out, here’s a list of where you need to go to encounter some of the fascinating and charismatic creatures that populate our coast and countryside.
Red kites, Mid Wales
Once on the verge of extinction here, conservation efforts now mean that the iconic forked tail of the red kite is a familiar sight above Mid Wales. For a truly awe-inspiring encounter with this striking bird of prey, head to the daily feeding sessions at Gigrin Farm near Rhayader and Bwlch Nant Yr Arian Forest Centre, when hundreds descend from the skies for a hearty meal.
Ospreys, Mid Wales
You’ll see more amazing birds of prey at the Dyfi Osprey Project, found in the Cors Dyfi Nature reserve near Machynlleth. Open April to September, it gives offers visitors the chance to view nesting ospreys from an elevated bird hide (for an even closer look there’s even a live streaming webcam that takes you right inside the nest). There’s also a visitor centre with information, a small shop and refreshments.
See one of the world’s most beloved birds in their natural environment. Look out for these comical but beautifully coloured birds nesting on islands around Wales, such as Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast. Famed for its puffins, there are a number of limited land trips to the island as well as cruises where you'll be able to observe wildlife from the comfort of your boat.
Dolphins and porpoises, Ceredigion
Cardigan Bay is home to a large population of bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises. Take a walk on the Wales Coast Path and there’s a good chance you’ll see them swimming and jumping among the waves. You can get a closer look by taking a dolphin spotting boat trip from the harbour town of New Quay, which will bring you ace to face with these amazing marine mammals. Find out more about our coastal environment at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, also in New Quay.
Manx shearwater, Llŷn and Pembrokeshire
Islands Skomer and Skokholm off the Pembrokeshire coast are home to the world’s largest colony of Manx Shearwaters. An estimated 350,000 breeding pairs nest on the islands, making for a spectacular sight as they return to their burrows at dusk. You can see these iconic black and white birds during spring and until the end of July.
You’ll also find large number of Manx shearwaters on Bardsey Island off the coast of the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales. Bardsey Boat Trips offer day trips to the island from Aberdaron that combine bird spotting with plenty of local information about the island’s history and wildlife.
Woodland and wetland wildlife, Pembrokeshire and South Wales
You can see an astonishing range of plants and animals, as well as learning more about the local environment at our nature reserves and visitor centres. In Pembrokeshire the Welsh Wildlife Centre operated by the Wildlife Trust offers families the chance to discover wildlife on walks, through seasonal events and guided tours. In South Wales, take a wander around Glyncorrwg Ponds, a series of man-made lakes nestled in lush wooded valleys, to see to see buzzards, heron, dragonfly and a range of flora and fauna.
Grey seals, Pembrokeshire
Ramsey Island off the Pembrokeshire coast is one of the best places in the UK to see Atlantic grey seals. Take a boat trip out to the island to see seals basking on the shoreline and explore Ramsey’s dramatic rock gorges and sea caves. in the rocks and caves.
Found at Tregaron, Cors Caron's vast raised bog is one of the most singular and important wetland environments in the UK.It supports a staggering amount of life, including around 16 species of colourful dragonfly. They’re gorgeous to look at… and pretty tasty, judging by the number of hobbies – agile little hawks – that predate on them.
Black grouse, North East Wales
You’ll have to be up early to see the black grouse dance at dawn at Coed Llandegla. During the summer months, join a guided RSPB walk through the forest to a purpose-built hide where you can see the male black grouse strut their stuff, flash their white tail feathers and charge each other as they attempt to impress the watching females.
Lapwings were once common on farmland, but their numbers have dropped alarmingly. Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve is one of their most important strongholds and the best place in Wales to see them. The reserve's varied habitat of marsh, woods and meadows is shared with dozens of other species. Visit in spring to spot the the reserve's inhabitants on memorable walk through ancient wildflower-carpeted oak woodland.
Take the trip to the iconic South Stack Cliffs RSPB reserve on Anglesey to see marine birds of every persuasion. The tall rocky cliffs here provide a home for around 9,000 feathered residents, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwake and fulmars, plus ravens, choughs and swooping peregrine falcons.
Woodland birds, Mid Wales
More than 30 breeding species of bird live in the willow and alder woodland of Withybeds along the River Lugg close to the border between England and Wales, 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.