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Denbighshire

Raven Corvus corax ©Chris Thomas Website

Birding Denbighshire

Denbighshire is a county in north-east Wales. It is named after the historic county of Denbighshire, but has substantially different borders. Denbighshire has the distinction of being the longest known inhabited part of Wales. Palaeolithic sites have Neanderthal remains from 225,000 years ago. There are several castles in the region: Denbigh Castle, Rhuddlan Castle, Ruthin Castle, Castell Dinas Bran and Bodelwyddan Castle. One of Britain's smallest cathedrals is at St Asaph, itself one of the smallest cities.

The eastern border of Denbighshire follows the ridge of the Clwydian Range, with a steep escarpment to the west, and a high point at Moel Famau (1,820 ft). The Clwydian Range is, with the upper Dee Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – one of just five in the whole of Wales. The Denbigh Moors (Mynydd Hiraethog) are in the west of the county and the Berwyn Range adjacent to the southern boundary. The River Clwyd in its broad, fertile Vale runs from south to north in the centre of the county. There is a narrow coastal plain in the north and a length of coast and hill ranges on its eastern, southern and western borders. In the central part, the River Clwyd has created a broad fertile valley.

It is primarily a rural county with little industry. Crops are grown in the Vale of Clwyd and cattle and sheep reared in the upland parts. The coast attracts tourists in the summer and hikers frequent the Clwydian Range, which with the upper Dee Valley, is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Denbigh, Ruthin and Saint Asaph are historic towns. Llangollen hosts the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in July each year.

Beyond its wooded hills are the mountains of the Clwydian Range, home to upland birds such as Red Grouse, Meadow Pipits, Whinchat and Curlew. Two other extensive areas of upland habitat are Denbigh Moors in the east and the Berwyn Mountains in the south. At the southern end of Denbigh Moors lies the extensive pine forest of Clocaenog, a great spot for watching raptors.

The whole of the northeast border of the county runs down the middle of Dee Estuary, an internationally important site for many species of waders and duck. A spectacular view of the Dee's wooded valley can be had from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at Trevor, a few miles east of Llangollen.

Top Sites

Clocaenog Forest, Hiraethog

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This huge 100 km2 forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife and some rare species, including the largest population of red squirrels in Wales, rare black grouse and wild Przewalski horses, as well as being one of the best spots in the area to enjoy mountain biking of all levels, walking, riding and to simply enjoy the great outdoors and the stunning North Wales scenery. As well as woodland birds this is an excellent site for seeing Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard and Raven.

Loggerheads Country Park

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There is a visitor centre here and the park can attract a large number of people. However, if you are prepared to walk some way from the centre the sight of Dipper, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail in the stream and Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Woodpeckers, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart in the woods will reward you.

Moel Famau Country Park

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The park consists of paths through coniferous woodland and open moorland to the summit of Moel Famau. Most heather clad areas hold Red Grouse, but these are elusive unless accidently flushed. Meadow Pipits, Whinchat, Stonechat, Skylark, Wheatear and Curlew are common in most part. Ravens, Buzzards, Peregrine and Kestrel can be seen over most of the moorland, with Hen Harrier and Merlin flying low over the slopes.

Contributor

Ian Spence

County Recorder

ian.spence@zen.co.uk

County Recorder

Ian Spence

43 Blackbrook, Sychdyn, Mold, Flintshire CH7 6LT

01352 750118

ian.spence@zen.co.uk

Useful Reading

Best Birdwatching Sites in North Wales

by Alan Davies & Owen Roberts | Buckingham Press | 2015 | Paperback | 192 Pages

ISBN: 9780955033940

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Breeding Birds of North Wales / Adar Nythu Gogledd Cymru

Edited by Anne Brenchley, Geoff Gibbs, Rhion Pritchard & Ian M Spence | Liverpool University Press | 2013 | Hardback | 448 Pages & 200 Colour Illustrations & Photos with maps

ISBN: 9781846318580

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Clywd Bird Recording Group

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The objects of the Group are to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in North-East Wales by undertaking and promoting the systematic study and recording of the occurrence, distribution, and breeding of bird species occurring in North-East Wales (being the Watsonian vice counties of Denbighshire and Flintshire).

Welsh Ornithological Society

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Reserves

Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

FCW Nercwys Woods

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Coed Nercwys is a 322 acre site owned by Forestry Commission Wales and managed in partnership with Denbighshire Countryside Service. The site is bursting with history from Bronze Age burial, mining and agriculture; to plantation and recreation. Nightjars, long eared owls and great crested newts are some of the rarer inhabitants.

LNR Llangwyfan Woods

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Coed Llangwyfan is a 29 acre recovering broad-leaved woodland below the Iron Age hillfort on Pen-y-Cloddiau. The site is owned by Forestry Commission Wales and managed in partnership with the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the upper forest roads in the open heath, Whinchats and Stonechats are regularly seen amongst the Meadow Pipits…

LNR Rhuddlan Nature Reserve

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Rhuddlan Nature Reserve is fully accessible for all. The site has been transformed into an ideal location for wildlife to thrive and a recreational area for local people and visitors. The short route takes you around ponds, where birds nest every year and meadows, which have been recently improved in partnership with the local community and schools.

Loggerheads Country Park

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Limestone influences all parts of the park and the nearby hamlet of Cadole. It has not only shaped the appearance of the landscape but also influences the plants that grow here, both the flower-strewn grasslands on the clifftops and the damp riverside woodlands.

NRW Clocaenog Forest, Hiraethog

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This huge 100 km2 forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife and some rare species, including the largest population of red squirrels in Wales, rare black grouse and wild Przewalski horses. The Forest has been a site of a major conservation and research since 1992. Its peace and quiet means that many rare species are now able to thrive. The population of rare black grouse has increased by 88%, but spotting a red squirrel is still an event to celebrate, as even now they average just one squirrel to every 3 to 4 hectares.

NRW Moel Famau Forest

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The Clwydian Range is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Mold. Natural Resources Wales looks after a number of woodlands and forests in the Clwydian Range which offer a range of waymarked walking trails and bridleways.

NWWT Aberduna

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The site has fantastic views of the Clwydian Range AONB and comprises a wonderful mix of limestone grassland and ancient woodland growing out of cliffs and limestone pavement. Over 28 species of butterfly can be seen here including Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Brown Argus and Common blue. The adjoining fields and dry glacial river valleys are excellent places to see wax cap fungi and the rare Moonwort. The woodland is coppiced to create perfect conditions for woodland butterflies, invertebrates and birds.

NWWT Blaen-y-Weirglodd

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Blaen-Y-Weirglodd is a wild and remote site protected for its peat bog habitat once common in the upland valleys of North Wales. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with a rich variety of bog plants such as sphagnum mosses, round-leaved sundew, bog asphodel, marsh violet, marsh pennywort and bog bean. Snipe are common winter visitors to the reserve and, between late April to July, listen out for grasshopper warbler. Brown hare and stoat are frequently seen at the site and in surrounding fields.

NWWT Gors Maen Llwyd

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A stunning upland heather moorland home to many upland birds with areas of peat bog and wet flushes that are rich in plant and insect life. A great site to see mountain pansy, heathers, red grouse, black grouse, hen harrier, sky lark, meadow pipit, cuckoo, adder, brown hare and the occasional osprey. It is the largest of the Trust's reserves at 280 ha, purchased in 1988 and forms part of the Mynydd Hiraethog SSSI.

RSPB Dee Estuary-Point of Air

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Over the border in Flintshire but come during the winter months and you'll be able to see thousands of birds feeding. High tide is the best time to visit, when the rising waters force the birds onto the saltmarshes, so you get even closer views.

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Other Links

Clwyd Birds Web

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Clwyd offers the birdwatcher a wide and diverse range of habitats. Sand and shingle beaches on the North Wales Coast between Conwy and Talacre join the tidal estuaries of the Rivers Conwy, Clywd and the Dee.

North Wales Birding

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Forum, photos, trip reports, and a great deal more…