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Wales Denbighshire

Raven Corvus corax ©Chris Thomas Website

Denbighshire (Welsh: Sir Ddinbych) 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.

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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

ianspence.cr@btinternet.com

County Recorder

Ian Spence

43 Blackbrook, Sychdyn, Mold, Flintshire CH7 6LT

01352 750118

ianspence.cr1@btinternet.com

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Useful Reading

Best Birdwatching Sites in North Wales

by Alan Davies & Owen Roberts Nov 2007 Buckingham Press £15.95p
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 9780955033940

Buy this book from NHBS.com

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.

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).

Reserves

Dee Estuary-Point of Air RSPB

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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.

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. This trail can be as easy or as challenging as you would like it to be. Take a short linear route to experience wide views across the Vale of Clwyd, or take the challenge of a 2 mile circular route, which involves some steeper ascents and descents, compared with our other accessible sites. The paths used are popular public bridle ways and byways. They have natural surfaces, which can be uneven and become muddy, especially during the wetter months. Along the upper forest roads in the open heath, Whinchats and Stonechats are regularly seen amongst the Meadow Pipits…

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.

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.

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…