There’s a wealth of wildlife just waiting to be discovered in our coast and countryside. Here are a few tour guides and operators who can help you get face to face with our natural world.
Seasonal Anglesey wildlife tours
Naturebites offer a changing programme of wildlife-spotting trips which showcase the island’s amazing year-round diversity of wildlife, with each tour is tailored to your individual requirements. They also run a regular Bird Race tour, challenging participants to spot as many of Anglesey’s dozens of bird species in a six-hour period.
Despite the name, Anglesey’s Puffin Island isn’t the best place in Wales for puffin-watching – Skomer and Skokholm have bigger colonies. But on a spring or early summer cruise around the island with Seacoast Safaris or Starida, you’re likely to see a few, along with crowds of guillemots and razorbills, jostling for space on the cliffs, plus sandwich terns, eider ducks and cormorants.
Bardsey Island Boat Trips
Colin Evans of Bardsey Island Boat Trips comes from a family of lobster fishermen who has lived on the Llŷn Peninsula for generations. He runs crossings and day-trips to Bardsey from the appealing village of Aberdaron. When the weather’s good, you can cruise Bardsey Sound, watching seabirds, seals and dolphins, while hearing about the region’s maritime history.
Black grouse watching
Black grouse are rare in Wales and even rarer in England. If you’d like to see one, Coed Llandegla in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB is the place – 50 per cent of the Welsh population of these charismatic birds live within one mile of here. In the breeding season, from late March to May, RSPB officers lead guided walks through the forest to a display area known as a lek, where the males screech, and mock-charge each other to win a mate.
Dolphin watching in Cardigan Bay
Dolphin Survey Boat Trips offer fascinating dolphin-watching cruises from New Quay, lasting from an hour upwards. On a full-day trip, you’ll accompany researchers from the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre as they collect important data and listen in on the dolphins’ conversations via an underwater microphone. As an alternative, A Bay to Remember offers fun RIB trips from Cardigan, Gwbert and Poppit Sands.
Wild Brecon Beacons
Planet Wales offers bespoke tours of the Brecon Beacons National Park, led by a former nature reserve warden. Exploring the hills, woodlands and waterways of this diverse park, you could see brown hares, otters and water voles, marsh fritillary butterflies and great crested newts. Longer tours which take in Gower, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the Severn Estuary are possible, too.
Caldey Island seal safari
Tenby Boat Trips runs an hour-long cruises around the hidden coves of Caldey Island, just off the Pembrokeshire Coast. Along the way you’ll have close encounters with the native grey seal population, which swim almost close enough to the boat to touch. You may also see nesting seabirds like puffins and cormorants on Caldey’s cliffs.
Grassholm and Ramsey RSPB Islands
This summer birdwatching tour from Thousand Island Expeditions is led by an RSPB warden. Setting out from the historic St Justinian’s lifeboat station, you’ll circle Grassholm, the world’s fourth largest gannet colony, home to 39,000 pairs. Later, you land on Ramsey, where you’ll hear about the island’s history and ecology. You’re then free to explore, looking for choughs, kittiwakes, peregrine falcons and seals.
Parc Slip wildlife walks
The 300-acre Parc Slip at Tondu, near Bridgend, is the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ flagship nature reserve in South Wales: its meadows and wetlands support over 1000 wildlife species. Guided walks take place on a regular basis, starting from the Visitor Centre and focusing on moths, butterflies, dragonflies or birds.
Designed in association with Bear Grylls for wildlife-watchers with a sense of adventure, this RIB trip from Ribride takes you from Holyhead to the wild, remote Skerries, home to a huge population of Arctic, common and roseate terns, plus breeding puffins and kittiwakes. You then continue to North Stack for caves and sea cliffs, and to South Stack for scores of sea birds in the RSPB reserve.
Spring watch at Stackpole
David Blackmore, a Green Badge Guide based in Pembrokeshire, offers five-hour tours of the ecologically diverse region around Stackpole in May and June. Inland, you’ll explore wooded valleys and ancient lily ponds, home to otters, water birds and dragonflies. The coast is a beautiful stretch of cliffs and coves alternating with beaches and dunes.
Whale and dolphin watching in Pembrokeshire
Voyages of Discovery in St Davids have been perfecting the art of whale and dolphin watching in West Wales since 2002. Their detailed knowledge of Pembrokeshire’s coastal and offshore waters ensures regular sightings of resident and migrating dolphins (common, bottlenose and Risso’s), whales (minke, sei and fin), orcas and sharks. May to September are the best months, particularly June.
Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm
Launching from Martin’s Haven near Marloes, Pembrokeshire Islands offers gentle trips around the bird-rich islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm, with commentary from the crew. On a spring or summer sunset cruise, you’ll see puffins, gannets and other seabirds returning to home base after a day’s fishing. High-speed sea safaris by RIB in the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve are also available.
Ynys-hir RSPB Reserve
In the summer months, this RSPB reserve in Ceredigion organises fun, informative guided tours and activities for kids. Choose from Wildlife Explorer afternoons, with pond-dipping and bug hunts, and Story Walks, tours with a professional storyteller who weaves stories from the natural world into the experience.
Anglesey Wildlife Walks
Caroline Bateson of Anglesey Wildlife Walks, a guide with over 20 years’ experience in nature conservation, offers half day or full day walks in several sections of the Anglesey Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sightings may include seals, porpoises, rare plants and butterflies.