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Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea ©Chris Thomas

Rhondda Cynon Taf or RCT, is a county borough in the south of Wales. It consists of five valleys: the Rhondda Fawr and Fach, Cynon, Taff and Ely Valleys, plus a number of towns and villages away from the valleys. It borders Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly to the east, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan to the south, Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot to the west and Powys to the north. Its principal towns are - Aberdare, Llantrisant with Talbot Green and Pontypridd, with other key towns being - Maerdy, Ferndale, Hirwaun, Llanharan, Mountain Ash, Porth, Tonypandy, Tonyrefail and Treorchy. The most populous town is Aberdare followed by Pontypridd.

The coal industry has had major adverse impacts on the quality of the environment, such that most of the rivers were severely polluted to the exclusion of all fish life. Recent decades have shown great improvement with the return of salmon recorded in the River Taff and the River Rhondda but the continued presence of man-made obstacles in the rivers is inhibiting regeneration of their pre-industrial numbers and condition.

Top Sites


Satellite View

This site is best accessed from the A465 between Merthyr Tydfil and Hirwaun. On reaching Hirwaun, take the A4061 south towards Treherbert and Treorci. This road climbs up into an area of high moor land and crags, overlooking a small corrie lake - Craig-y-llyn is Welsh for Lake Rock. This is probably the best area in Glamorgan for the high moor land birds more usually associated with the Brecon Beacons (Bannau Brycheiniog) in adjacent Breconshire (Sir Frycheiniog). Peregrines are regular breeders in the area, and indeed are now found breeding throughout the Rhondda valleys, after having been exterminated in the past. Ravens are regular overheads, while other typical birds include Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Whinchat. These birds can indeed be seen all over the Brecon Beacons - another excellent spot is Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, over the border in Breconshire. Return to the A465, cross it, and continue northwards on the A4065 towards Brecon (Aberhonddu); crossing excellent moor land en route. On reaching the A470, turn left, climbing all the time, and enjoying the stunning scenery. After a while you will see a large car park on the right and smaller one on the left, with the Storey Arms mountain activities centre on the right hand side. Continue along the road for another mile or two, until you see a pull-off on the left-hand side, where the road crosses a small stream. Park here, and walk up the footpath to the left, following the stream uphill to the natural amphitheatre formed by the sandstone cliffs above. All the above-mentioned birds can be seen here in summer. If anyone knows of a more magical place to spend a warm summer's day, I'd like to know about it!

County Recorder

Philip Bristow - East Glamorgan County Recorder

2 Forest Oak Close, Cyncoed, Cardiff CF23 6QN

07769 973890


Useful Reading

Birds of Glamorgan

Clive Hurford and Peter Lansdown 228 pages, 30 col & 17 b/w photos, line illus, maps. 1995

ISBN: 1872808344

Buy this book from NHBS.com

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.


Glamorgan Bird Club & Gower Ornithological Society


The Glamorgan Birds Website, a joint venture between the Glamorgan Bird Club and Gower Ornithological Society. The main function of these bodies is to produce the annual bird reports for the East and West of the county of Glamorgan. This website features a number of online services aimed at making your birding in Glamorgan much easier. There are links to a number of pages that will be useful to anyone with an interest in birds, from the casual birdwatcher to the keenest of birders…

Glamorgan Wildlife Trust


Glamorgan Wildlife Trust was established in 1961 to maintain and increase the biodiversity in the old county of Glamorgan, and to enhance public understanding, enjoyment and respect of Glamorgan's environment. The Trust has approximately 1,400 members and manages 46 nature reserves, which cover nearly 1400 acres - from cliffs and sand dunes in the south to woods and moor land in the north.


Craig Yr Hesg Nature Reserve



3 Valleys Birding


Covering Cynon Valley ( Aberdare & Mountain Ash ), Merthyr Tydfil and the Pontypridd area north west of Cardiff…