Wildlife and bird watching in 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.
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).
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.
County by county
Recent Wales news
- Rare whale successfully rescued after stranding on Welsh beach
- Introducing the first gannet-cam
- Dormice at risk from disappearing habitat
- Plans to help the pine marten recover in southern Britain
- Otter killed in illegal eel trap on Anglesey
- 35% of Welsh orchards in poor condition
- Welsh environment could be a great force for good
- Government rejects Severn Barrage - Again
- One of Britain's rarest reptiles, sand lizards to be released back into the wild
- Welsh Government won’t stop shooting of rare geese
- Montgomeryshire osprey chicks - two girls
- One of Britain's rarest mammals needs greater protection to survive
- Swordfish reported on a beach in Somerset
- Large group of Minke whales spotted in the Irish Sea
- Mist nets set at Newport Wetlands – Police appeal for information
More Wales news
- Rare Southern Damselfly habitat in Wales given boost
- Call for Chinese lantern ban is growing
- Late arrivals as osprey pair become parents
- Beavers to return to Wales in 2014?
- The future of much of the UK's iconic wildlife hangs in the balance
- First osprey chicks appearing across the country
- Amazing week at Cors Dyfi osprey project
- Added protection needed for calving bottlenose dolphins in Wales
- Pine marten showing signs of recovery in Scotland
- Remarkable Osprey, 'Lady', returns to Scotland for 23rd year - Ospreys update
- One million UK dragonfly records!
- Newly created woodland scores an arachnid first for Wales
- Ospreys are back in the UK
- Red squirrels given boost as greys are targeted
- New National Nature Reserve created in Mid Wales
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
Articles about the wildlife of the UK
- The best seal-watching spots in Britain
- Where to see the deer rut
- The Bottlenose dolphins of Scotland's west coast
- A visit to the Red kites of Gigrin Farm, near Rhyader in Wales
Great British Marine Animals - 3rd EditionMany 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.