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Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus ©Nigel Blake Website

Gwynedd is an area in north-west Wales, named after the old Kingdom of Gwynedd. As a local government area, it is the second biggest in terms of geographical area and also one of the most sparsely populated. Most of the population is Welsh-speaking. The name Gwynedd is also used for a preserved county, covering the two local government areas of Gwynedd and the Isle of Anglesey. Culturally and historically, the name can also be used for most of North Wales (for instance, the area covered by the Gwynedd Constabulary), corresponding to the approximate territory of the Kingdom of Gwynedd at its greatest extent. The current area is 2,548 square km (983.78 sq miles, slightly smaller than Luxembourg) with a population as measured in the 2011 Census of 121,874.

Gwynedd is the home of Bangor University and includes the scenic Llŷn Peninsula, and most of Snowdonia National Park.

The largest settlements are Bangor, Caernarfon, Bethesda and Ffestiniog. The largest settlement in the south is Tywyn.

Gwynedd Local Nature Reserves spread across 1700 hectares of land, which protects important habitats and species. Most of Gwynedd is mountainous, with a number of peaks over 1,000 metres high, and only a narrow strip of coastal plain in the north of the county. There is lower, but still hilly, ground on the Llyn peninsula to the west.

The mountain areas have good numbers of Peregrine, with smaller numbers of Chough, while in May Dotterel on passage are regular on the Carneddau range. Bardsey Island at the tip of the Llyn peninsula has a bird observatory that welcomes visitors and is a site where almost anything could turn up. Buzzard and Raven are both present in large numbers and can be seen almost anywhere.

Top Sites

Bardsey Island


Satellite View

Buzzard, Raven, and almost anything else can turn up.

Lafan Sands


Satellite View

Wildfowl & Waders - The area has a range of exposures and a diversity of conditions, enhanced by freshwater streams that flow across the flats. The site is of importance for wintering waterbirds, especially Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus. In conditions of severe winter weather, Traeth Lafan acts as a refuge area for Oystercatchers displaced from the nearby Dee Estuary.


Rhion Pritchard

Caernarfon County Recorder

Pant Afonig, Hafod Lane, Bangor, Gwynedd. LL57 4BU


County Recorder

Jim Dustow (Meirionnydd)

RSPB Lake Vyrnwy, Bryn Awel, Lanwddyn, Welshpool, Powys SY10 OLZ

01691 870278


Rhion Pritchard (Caernarfon)

Pant Afonig, Hafod Lane, Bangor, Gwynedd. LL57 4BU

01248 671301


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

Useful Information

County Bird

There is no official county bird - however the Cambrian Ornithological Society have a Peregrine Falco peregrinus as a logo and the Bangor Bird Group have a Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

Forums & Mailing Lists

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birds of Snowdonia

Tour Operator

Immerse yourself in the most beautiful scenery the British Isles has to offer. Welcome to Snowdonia, land of myths and legends, with the National Park covering over 800 square miles. Where else can you find beautiful valleys, snow capped mountains, stunning lakes and rivers, not to mention the unrivalled beaches?

Shearwater Coastal Cruises - Pelagics

Tour Operator

Shearwater is a large, stable luxury charter boat conducting seabird watching tours along the beautiful coast of the Lleyn Peninsula, from Pwllheli…

Trip Reports


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.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Minffordd Hotel - Talyllyn Tywyn


Visit the many local bird sanctuaries and see the rare Red Kite…

The Sandpiper - Barmouth


Characteristically they have slender bills and legs, slim bodies ands well developed winged for fast flight. They are elegant sociable birds and several species may be seen on the beach and the estuary around Barmouth…

Wern Fawr Manor Farm


Exceptional self-catering cottages and B&B offered in the heart of the Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales. We have buzzards, barn owls and numerous others.


Corris RSPB Wildlife Explorers


The Corris Wildlife Explorer group meets once a month on the 2nd Saturday of the month. The group meet between 2 and 4pm, and the programme is very varied. The Corris Institiwt is the main meeting place, and the group generally spend most of their meetings outdoors, in the locality. The group is mainly focused on activities for children between 6 and 11. However, other ages are not restriced from attending but those under 6 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Cymdeithas Adarydda Cambria - Cambrian Ornithological Society

The C.O.S. is for all birdwatchers with an interest in the north-west Wales area; the new counties of Anglesey, Gwynedd and the western part of Conwy.

Dyfi Osprey Project


The Dyfi Osprey Project is one of Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust's flagship projects based on our Cors Dyfi Reserve near Machynlleth on the west coast of mid Wales.

Mawddach RSPB Wildlife Explorers


This group is run specifically for 5 to 13 year olds and follows a varied programme from fungal forays to beachcombing. The Mawddach Estuary and surroundings offers a wide variety of wonderful habitats for us to study. We also have visitors who tell us about their interest and work in the environment. We meet on the second Saturday of the month.


Bardsey Bird Observatory

Observatory Website

Satellite View

07855 264 151
BBFO is the only accredited bird observatory in Wales. Its emphasis is ornithological, but there are considerable opportunities for other interests. Recent years have seen marine biologists, entomologists, geologists and mammologists making visits to the Observatory. Bardsey is two miles off the tip of the Lleyn peninsula. The Observatory boat leaves each Saturday during the season (or the first suitable day thereafter) from Pwllheli Marina. Contact: Steve Stansfield, Warden, Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory, Cristin, Ynys Enlli, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 8DE. 017855 264151 steve@bbfo.freeserve.co.uk


Coed y Brenin


Satellite View

Black Grouse may be spotted on the forest fringes where the moor meets the trees.The males are easy to recognise with their distinctive black feathers and lyre shaped tail in flight. The females, however, are less easy to distinguish from Red Grouse which also inhabit the forest edges. Large and small raptors can be spotted all over the forest. Buzzards soar high above the valleys; Goshawks (known as the phantom of the forest) are more secretive and are extremely difficult to spot as they glide through tall mature trees and into thick undergrowth to catch their prey. Red Kites are also becoming more common as they distribute themselves north of their range. They are the easiest big raptor to spot with their large forked red tail. Peregrines are also present but not common. If you are really lucky you may spot a Merlin but you have to be quick…

Cors Dyfi


Satellite View

Cors Dyfi is a wonderful little nature reserve that is teaming with wildlife. Over the last few hundred years it has seen many changes, from estuarine salt marsh to reclaimed grazing, then to conifer plantation and more recently into a wildlife rich wetland reserve. The reserve is a healthy mixture of bog, swamp, wet woodland and scrub supporting a plethora of animals and plants. Including the magnificent Osprey, which bred on the reserve for the first time in 2011. If you are lucky you may also spot an otter or dormouse. Black Grouse can be spotted on the forest fringes where the moor meets the trees and Goshawk breed.

Mawddach Valley - Coed Garth Gell RSPB


Satellite View

Nestled in the spectacular Mawddach Valley, Coed Garth Gell is a woodland and heathland nature reserve. The visitor trails weave through beautiful oak woodland with a fast-flowing river in the valley bottom. In the spring and summer, pied flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers are prominent, with bluebells in flower and gorgeous fritillary butterflies on the wing. Come for a walk in winter and you could see siskins, lesser redpolls and, occasionally, hawfinches and lesser spotted woodpeckers.

Snowdonia National Park


Satellite View

Situated on the west coast of Britain covering 823 square miles of diverse landscapes, Snowdonia National Park is a living working area, home to over 26,000 people. As well as being the largest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia boasts the highest mountain in England and Wales, and the largest natural lake in Wales, as well as a wealth of picturesque villages like Betws y Coed and Beddgelert. Snowdonia is an area steeped in culture and local history, where more than half its population speak Welsh. Golden Eagles vanished some 300 years ago but you may very well see buzzards and peregrines. You'll almost definitely spot ravens (listen out for their Cronk Cronk and wheatears (spotted by their skimming flight and white rumps) and perhaps choughs and ring ouzles …


Lighthouse Journal


Rich is the Assistant Warden at Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory. He has lived on remote Welsh Islands for the past six years. He's spot on with all things avian; a brilliant birder, fantastic ringer and a patient photographer. He's my boyfriend and I share his way of life with him….

Other Links

Bio-diversity in Gwynedd


It is difficult to associate Gwynedd with one particular type of landscape as it contains a varied range of habitats. On the Lleyn Peninsula we have wonderful views of the coast, dramatic rocky cliffs leading down to beautiful beaches and sand dune systems. The landscape of this area has been forged from a system of open rough grazing, white farmhouses, and hedges which line the narrow little lanes around the Lleyn…

Lighthouse Journal


Rich and Giselle - Together we live beneath Bardsey Lighthouse and monitor the wildlife of the island…