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Wildlife and bird watching in Wales

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What wildlife can be seen in the sea off Wales?
There are two principal areas for watching marine wildlife in Wales, Cardigan Bay and the Pembrokeshire coast, particularly the Llyn Peninsula.

In summer, Minke and Pilot whales are most commonly seen with Fin and Killer whales (or Orca, actually a species of dolphin) more rare. Dolphins are present and can be seen all year round, and while Bottlenose dolphins are reasonably common, Risso’s and Atlantic white-sided are more unusual. It is thought that the resident population of dolphins in Cardigan Bay number 150-200. It is occasionally possible to see whales and dolphins from the shore, though luck is needed. Newquay pier and Lynas Point (Anglesey) probably provide your best chances. Harbour porpoises are probably the most common sighting, while Grey seals, Basking sharks and Sunfish are also seen.

Grey Seals may be seen on the coast at various places in Wales, such as Cardigan Island, Ynys Lochtyn, Cwm Tudu and New Quay.
 
Gannets on Grassholm Island, Wales. ©Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Birds in Wales
The big news is that Ospreys are once again breeding in Wales, at Glaslyn. They first appeared in 2004, and though the nest was blown down in a storm, they bred successfully in 2005. Red Kites are another signature species, and are best seen at the now famous Gigrin farm where as many as several hundred Kites will appear at once (the worse the weather, the more kites appear, usually). Other key species include dippers (try RSPB Lake Vrynwy or Gilfach nature reserve), choughs, puffins, guillemots and razorbills (all on Ramsey Island and Skokholm Island), short eared owls and the world’s largest population of Manx shearwaters (Skomer Island), whimbrel and winged plovers (Snowdonia).

With a wide variety of rocky coastline, coastal marshes, a mountainous interior, upland heaths, numerous lakes and reservoirs and some large swathes of broad leaf and conifer forest, Wales attracts more than it’s fair share of bird species, around 420 different species have been recorded (compared with roughly 530 in England).
 
Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire.  © Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
 
Mammals in Wales
The biggest non-marine mammals in Wales are Red deer, one of five deer species found in Wales; Fallow, Roe, Sika and Muntjac deer are also found but deer numbers are not high and they are much less common than in England or Scotland. Polecats and Pine Martens still inhabit the forests of Snowdonia though are very rarely seen, and stoats, weasels, hares, rabbits, otters, badgers, foxes and hedgehogs are all present. Red squirrels can still be found if you know where to look; try the Clocaenog Forest (a good place for black grouse too) in North Wales, not far from Corwen.
13 species of bat have been recorded in Wales, including Greater and Lesser horseshoe bats.

Reptiles in Wales
Grass snakes, adders and common lizards (try Oxwich bay) are all present, though not often seen. There have been several succesful reintroductions of sand lizards into north and west Wales, click here for more information.
 
 Sand lizard male. © Mick Brummage.

County by county

reviews/reviews_2010/seashore_safaris

Seashore safaris

Best activity book of the year 
Summer is here, we have warm weather, and the beach is beckoning. A swim, build a couple of sandcastles, a bit of beach cricket, but what to do next?

Click rockpooling to read more 

reviews/reviews_2010/great_british_marine_animals

Great British Marine Animals - 3rd Edition

Many people think of the waters around Great Britain as cold, grey and fairly lifeless. This book will put you right (though noone can argue about the water temperature).
Read full review »

The Gannets of Grassholm Island

Gannets have now colonised the island in huge numbers. Grassholm covers only 22 acres and there are at least 60,000 Gannets plus their chicks, as well as small colonies of Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Shags.

Click here to read the full article