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10 of the Best Wildlife Days out

November 2014

Wildlife, flora & fauna top wildlife days out

Wildlife is easy to spot in Wales, says Phil Hurst of Wildlife Trusts Wales. Our top ten wildlife experiences show specific sites where you are highly likely to see the animals or birds listed, but they are not exclusive to these locations. Dolphins can be watched from numerous headlands around Wales. And if you’re lucky, and know where to go, you can spot otters in the early morning along rivers from Bangor to Cardiff.

Ospreys


Osprey soaring through sky

Ospreys nest from April to late summer on the Cors Dyfi reserve in Machynlleth. Other birds of prey regularly seen include red kite, honey buzzard and marsh and hen harriers. Children also love to see the very special creatures who help to manage the wetlands: a herd of water buffalo. There’s a visitor centre and most of the reserve has wheelchair access.

Search for more nature reserves in Mid Wales

Dolphins


Bottlenosed Dolphins

Although dolphins can be regularly seen from the shore in many parts Cardigan Bay, the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre organises boat trips from April onwards. The North Wales Wildlife Trust also run regular land-based dolphin watching seashore safaris over the summer.

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Otters


Otter

Visitors often report seeing otters at the lovely Gilfach Farm reserve in Radnorshire. Last summer a family saw a female and two cubs walking along the nature trail in mid-afternoon! The best time to visit is October to December when otters come to the waterfalls to chase the leaping salmon.

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Fields of Orchids


Orchids and Ox-Eye Daisies at Pentwyn Farm Meadow, Monmouthshire by imaginedhorizons

Situated above the beautiful Wye Valley within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Pentwyn Farm reserve provides commanding views over the surrounding countryside. Early summer sees thousands of green-winged orchids in spectacular wildflower meadows.

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Red Kites


Red kite around Aberystwyth, Ceredigion by Howie Mudge

Once on the edge of extinction, there are now an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs of these birds in Wales. Feeding stations where visitors can experience these magnificent birds close up include Gigrin Farm (a few miles south of the Gilfach Farm reserve in Radnorshire) and the Red Kite Feeding Centre at Llanddeusant in the west of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Puffins


Puffin

There are an estimated 16,000 puffins and 300,000 Manx shearwaters on the world-renowned Skomer and Skokholm islands, which are also home to large numbers of grey seals. You need to book visits in advance but this makes for a fantastic family day out. Boats run daily from March to December.

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Migrated Seabirds


Artic Tern

With well over 1,000 nesting pairs of sandwich terns, Cemlyn on Anglesey is an internationally important site for seabirds. Visitors can experience these rare and elegant birds close-up – chasing and diving in spectacular courtship displays or winging in with freshly caught fish. The Arctic tern, which also nests here, migrates up to 50,000 miles every year between the Arctic and Antarctic.

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Salmon Leaping


Salmon leaping at Radyr Weir on the River Taff, Cardiff by anjado

The sight of salmon leaping up waterfalls is always thrilling, even though it’s a relatively common sight in the autumn months along many rivers in Wales. In Mid Wales one of the best places is the River Marteg at the Gilfach Farm reserve in Radnorshire, but you can even see them in the centre of Cardiff on the River Taff by Blackweir.

Search for places to go fishing in Wales

Magical Bluebell Woods


Bluebells

Carpets of bluebells cover the ancient woodlands in many parts of Wales, but few reach the dazzling heights of Coed y Felin, just outside Mold in Flintshire. Down south try the Coed Dyrysiog reserve just outside Brecon.

Autumn leaf splendour


Autumn

For autumnal blazes of colour, the valleys of South Wales rival the forests of New England. The Silent Valley reserve near Ebbw Vale is a perfect example, while the Pwll-y-Wrach reserve in Brecknock has spectacular autumn colours in ancient woodland running down to plunging waterfalls along the River Enig.

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All images are credited to © Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales

 

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