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County of Powys

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago ©Andrew Evans - detail from a painting

Powys is a local-government county and preserved county in Mid Wales. It is named after the successor Kingdom of Powys, which formed after the Romans withdrew from Britain.

It covers the historic counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire (Breconshire), and a small part of Denbighshire — an area of 2,000 square miles, making it the largest unitary authority in Wales by land area and about the same size as the country of Trinidad and Tobago. It is bounded to the north by Gwynedd, Denbighshire and Wrexham; to the west by Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire; to the east by Shropshire and Herefordshire; and to the south by Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire and Neath Port Talbot.

Powys is a very large mostly mountainous county including a number of medium sized towns and a lot of open country with bleak mountains, bog, Coniferous Forest Plantation and many streams and lakes or man-made reservoirs. The most natural and rich habitat are hanging woodlands - wooded slopes and gorges typically consisting of oak and much favoured by the speciality birds of the area, wood warbler, pied flycatcher and redstarts as well as all three woodpeckers and typical upland stream birds such as dipper and grey wagtail.

It is, too, famed as the stronghold of the remnant red kite population that survived the extinction in the rest of the British Isles. Now much expanded and already cross-breeding with the newly re-introduced English populations.

There are more than sixty local nature reserves in the county, a dozen national nature reserves and several RSPB reserves.

Top Sites

Black Mountains


Satellite View

The Black Mountains (Welsh: Y Mynyddoedd Duon) are a group of hills spread across parts of Powys and Monmouthshire in southeast Wales, and extending across the England–Wales border into Herefordshire. Bleak hilltop areas that can hold merlin, whinchat, red grouse, skylark, passage Golden plover etc. (Also rumoured sightings of hen harrier & red kite)

Bullpit Meadows

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Walk along river at Crickhowell: park in small lay-by on B4558 at SO214183. Cross over River Usk, and turn onto Bullpit meadows through the gate on the left. Footpath follows river for one and a half miles. Species which can be seen: Dipper, Kingfisher, Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Little Owl, Buzzard, Hobby, Water Rail(easier in winter); Goshawk, Siskin, Redpoll, Treecreeper, etc.

Craig y Cilau

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Located off an unclassified road above Llangattock (I think park on the verge just after the cattle-grid) Path leads round the hillside on an old tram-road (loads of historical sites); past cave entrances (lesser horseshoe and Greater Horseshoe bat roosts); above a bog. Tawny Owls, Redstarts, Peregrines, the odd Kite in winter. Probably lots more.

Llangorse Lake


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Famed for the Pied-billed Grebe twitch of a couple of years ago. At SO133261 there is a small parking area for 10+ cars. Walk west along lake. Hide at about SO 126263. Winter: ducks, grebes, the odd harrier. Spring: passage osprey, terns. Summer: water rail, etc. Large flock of Canada geese. Reed warbler, and lots more. There is a much larger area on the other side of the lake at SO128272, with sailing club, boat hire etc., which the footpath from eventually reaches. Llangorse village with a nice pub nearby.

Mynydd Ddu Forest

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Forestry Commission land with: roding woodcock, tree pipits, redstart, long-eared owls, etc. The forest of Mynydd Du lies in the upper reaches of the Grwyne Fawr on the southern side of the Black Mountains. Until the 19th century the valley was intensively settled with over 30 farmsteads surrounded by small stone-walled fields.

River Wye [Glasbury to Hay]

Beautiful natural area. The usual Welsh river birds expected. Woodlands hold redstart, wood warbler and Pied flycatcher.

Talybont Reservoir


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For winter ducks, grebes, etc.


County Recorder

Pete Jennings (Radnor)

Parkview, Staunton-on-arrow, Leominster HR6 9HT

01544 388905


Mike Haig (Montgomery)

Tynewydd Ketch, Llanfyllin, Powys SY22 4EU

01691 648746


Andrew King (Breconshire)

Heddfan, Pennorth, Brecon, Powys. LD3 7EX

01874 658351


Number of Species

County Bird - Red Kite Milvus milvus

Useful Reading

The Red Kite

Ian Carter Arlequin Press reprinting April 2007 at ?19.95.

ISBN: 1900159619

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Radnor Bird Group

c/o Pete Jennings (County Recorder)

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

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…

Braich Goch Bunkhouse & Inn


We are a new bunkhouse facility in Corris, Mid Wales which you may be interested in.. We are very near Cadair Idris, Tal y Llyn lake, Bird Rock, the West Wales Coast and the Red kite area of Mid Wales. We can accommodate 26 in bunk beds (5 rooms of 4 and 1 room of 6) plus a residents bar

Brandy House B&B


The Radnorshire Wildlife Trust has a conservation lease on the Beacon Hill Common, and as such birdlife is abundant. It is composed of typical upland birds such as Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Whinchat, Buzzard and Wheatear. Curlew are also found in the wetter areas as occasionally are Snipe. Ring Ouzel, Peregrine, and various Owls can be seen, and we have recently seen the rare Red Kite. During the winter months Hen Harrier fly over the area.

Brynafon Country House Hotel - Rhayader


Brynafon is set against the dramatic backdrop of Gwastedyn Hill and the Druid's Circle and is a stone's throw from the river Wye. Sitting in very heart of the beautiful and yet still undiscovered Elan Valley, Brynafon is a must to visit any time of the year…

Bryncoed Guesthouse - Rhayader


Breathtaking views, Sheep everywhere, the thundering sounds of the magnificent Elan Valley Dams and the delightful sight of Red Kites in their natural environment make a visit to this area well worthwhile. Dee and Ray Izzard welcome you to their comfortable guesthouse.

Craig-y-nos Castle


CRAIG Y NOS CASTLE, Brecon Road, Penycae, Swansea Valley, SA9 1GL. For information on events, accommodation, conferences, weddings, parties, birthday parties and banquets, live music etc, Tel: Patsy or Nerys on 01639 730205 (office hours) or ask for Sue Drew 01639 731167 (day & eve) or visit www.craigynoscastle.com The Castle stands in the Brecon Beacons National Park Park in the Upper Swansea Valley in South Wales. It has been transformed into a quality hotel with accommodation and reception facilities for weddings and conferences.

Elan Valley Hotel - Nr. Rhayader


The hotel is in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains and the Elan Valley. Seventy thousand acres of spectacular wild countryside with large areas designated as SSSI (site of special scientific interest). The sight of the the Red Kite is comonplace, soaring on thermals above fields of wild orchids.

Liverpool House - Rhayader


As yet there is nothing on their website but Liverpool House is a large guest house with en-suite accommodation close to Gigrin Farm Kite Feeding Station.

Lodge Cottage - Cwmygerwyn


Enjoy a peaceful and relaxing holiday in beautiful and unspoilt Welsh Border country. Charming, comfortable stone cottage up in a valley in the Radnor Forest - ideal for birdwatching, walking, riding, mountain-biking.

Riverside Lodge Guest House - Elan Valley


Our friendly and welcoming guest house is set in spectacular surroundings beside the River Elan in the beautiful Elan Valley. Excellent location for bird watching, many species can be seen from the breakfast table. One and a half miles from Gigrin Farm Red Kite feeding station. As we are in the heart of Mid-Wales, we provide an excellent base for cycling, walking and exploring the surrounding area including the Elan Valley reservoirs and dams…


Brecknock Birds


Welcome to Brecknock Birds. This site has been set up to encourage interest in bird watching and ornithology in Brecknockshire.

Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust


The Trust has eighteen nature reserves, is active in campaigning for better wildlife protection in Mid Wales, and works hard to make Montgomeryshire a better place for wildlife and people. Founded in 1982, we now have over 1000 members, publish our own magazine.

MWT Bird Group

Secretary: Terry Puzey, Four Seasons, Arddleen, Llanmynech, Powys, SW22 6R) 01938 590 578


Brecon Beacons National Park


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Online Guide Book

Carngafallt RSPB


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Carngafallt is a wonderful place to see birds or simply enjoy the view. The moorland landscape looks especially colourful in late summer, while spring is the perfect time to come and see migrant birds like redstarts, whinchats and tree pipits. Woodpeckers, pied flycatchers, red kites and buzzards also make the reserve their home, and you may see badgers and hares too.

Dyfnant Forest


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Bordering the East side of the Berwyn mountains, many upland and forest birds can be seen, these include Meadow and Wood Pipits, Crossbills, Siskins, Nightjars and the colourful Black Grouse which frequently feeds within the cleared forest areas and moorland edge. The Goshawk is also dashing through the trees in pursuit of prey…

Gilfach Nature Reserve


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A Radnorshire Wildlife Trust Reserve situated in a beautiful setting at the mouth of the Marteg Valley in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales, Gilfach is locally unique because of its wide variety of habitats: high moorland to enclosed meadow; oak woodland to rocky upland river. Because of this variety the farm supports a tremendous abundance of birds.

Lake Vyrnwy RSPB


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Dippers and kingfishers nest by the lake and rocky streams, while ravens and buzzards can be found on the moorland…

Radnor Forest


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When visiting the woodland areas it is poosible to see a wide variety of birds, especially raptors…

Other Links

Brecon Beacons Birder


My name is Steve Wilce, I am primarily a birdwatcher and secondly a photographer. I have had images published in wildlife magazines and holiday brochures and most recently in a book about the Brecon Beacons national park. My main hobby will, however, always be birding…..

Gigrin Farm – Red Kite Feeding Station


The Gigrin is a family run upland sheep farm of approximately 200 acres, owned and farmed by Eithel, Lena, and Chris Powell. The land is 700 feet rising to 1200 above sea level giving us wonderful views of the Wye and Elan valleys. They already had a Farm & Nature Trail and a keen interest in both conservation and tourism when in 1994 the Kite Country Project, and R.S.P.B., invited them to be the Official Red Kite Feeding Station.