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Wales Swansea City

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus ©Sue Tranter

Swansea (Welsh: Abertawe), officially known as the City and County of Swansea (Dinas a Sir Abertawe), is a coastal city and county in Wales. It is Wales' second largest city after Cardiff and the twenty-fifth largest city in the UK. Swansea lies within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. During its 19th-century industrial heyday, Swansea was a key centre of the copper industry, earning the nickname 'Copperopolis'. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands. Swansea has started to expand into a larger region known as the Swansea Bay City Region. After combining with other councils, it now includes Tenby and other parts of West Wales, its population including these areas an estimated 685,051.

The scenic Gower Peninsula (Penrhyn Gwyr) extends to the west of Swansea.

The county has plenty of parks, gardens and country parks and a number of local nature reserves such as: Bishop's Wood, Cadle Heath, Cwmllwyd Wood, Killay Marsh, Mumbles Hill, Pwll Du, Swansea Vale and Llanrhidian Marsh & Whiteford Burrows.

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Blackpill

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Leave Swansea southwards on the A4067 towards Mumbles. You will soon reach a pitch and putt golf course on the left-hand side of the road, and at the end of it you will see a pub on the right hand side. Cross back over the main road and walk past the paddling pool to the cycle track along the shore. This cycle track extends all the way from Swansea to Mumbles, and gives great access to the whole shoreline. This area of beach and mudflats at Blackpill is famous as the place where the UK's first Ring-billed Gull was found, and in fact this species continued to be seen here for a good few years before it was located elsewhere. This is a gull-watchers dream in winter, with a large gull roost including all the regular species - Common, Black-headed, Herring, Lesser and Greater Black-backs. Given this, and the regular attention the site receives, rarer gulls are discovered regularly, and as well as Ring-billed Gulls other frequent visitors include Little, Glaucous, Iceland and Mediterranean Gulls. But there's much more than gulls - it is also an excellent spot for waders, especially in winter where excellent views can be had at high tide of a number of species including Oystercatchers, Grey and Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank, Curlew, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Knot and Greenshank. Make sure you get the tide tables right though - here's an awful lot of mud to scrutinise at low tide!

Cwm Clydach

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This is a really superb example of the type of broad-leaved woodland previously found throughout Wales, but now restricted to a relatively few fragments. From the car park, the patch follows the Clydach River, which is excellent for Dipper, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. After a while, the track crosses the river and enters a fabulous area of woodland, which contains all the species you'd expect from a Welsh broad-leaved woodland. Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts and Wood Warblers nest in good numbers, while other common birds include Cuckoo, Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers, Blackcap, Garden Warblers, Sparrowhawk, Jay, Bullfinch and Greenfinch. Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers breed in good numbers, and there are even a few Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, although there are a lot of trees to search! Winter can be a good time for locating tit flocks - Blue, Great, Coal, Marsh, Willow and Long-tailed - together with Nuthatches, Treecreepers and Goldcrests, all of which breed on the reserve. Blackbird, Song and Mistle Thrushes breed, being joined by Redwing and Fieldfares in winter - these are easier to see in the fields surrounding the reserve, which can be accessed by continuing up the minor road past the entrance to the car park. These scrubby areas on the fringes of the main woodland are also good for birds like Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Whinchat and Tree Pipits. Further along the road, you will enter an area of high moorland, where Meadow Pipits replace the Tree Pipits, and Linnets and Wheatears are common. I've also recorded Curlew and Lapwing breeding in these areas.

Gower North Shore

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The whole southern shore of the Burry Inlet is an extremely important wintering area for shorebirds, geese and duck. However, it is one of those frustrating areas where there are huge expanses of salt marsh and exposed mud, but very little easy access. Some views can be had along the coast road west of the famous cockle-fishing village of Penclawdd (which still supplies cockles to Swansea market - excellent after a day's birding!). The best access point is probably in the extreme west at Whiteford Burrows (SS4597); owned by the National Trust. Park by the church in the small village of Cwm Ivy (SS4394). From here, a track leads northwards for over 2 miles through the wooded sand dunes of the Burrows, before emerging at the estuary at Berges Island, where there is a hide. The area is best in winter, with regular birds including the following - Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Snipe, Jack Snipe, Lapwing, Golden, Grey and Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Knot, Sanderling, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatchers, Shelduck, Eider, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Common and Velvet Scoter, Red-throated and Great Northern Divers, Brent Geese, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes. Passerines are relatively few and far between, although there are plenty of Meadow Pipits around, winter thrushes occur at the right time of year, and a good selection of woodland birds nearer Cwm Ivy. Raptors occur, and in winter include all the species you might expect - Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin, Kestrel, Buzzard and Short-eared Owl.

Oxwich

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Drive west from Swansea along the A4118 which runs along the southern part of the Gower. At Penrice Castle, a minor road drops steeply down and crosses Oxwich Marsh before reaching the village itself. This is a great spot (an NNR); on the south coast of Gower. The main attraction is the large freshwater marsh, on both sides of the minor road leading down from the village of Penrice. A footpath runs out into the eastern part of the marsh, and eventually loops back to the road through Penrice Woods which form the northern border to the marsh There is a heronry in these woods, and Grey Herons are often seen flying backwards and forwards over the marsh. The extensive reed beds hold good numbers of Reed and Sedge Warblers, and smaller numbers of Grasshopper and Cetti's Warblers, with Bearded Tit and Water Rail being regularly recorded. Little Grebes and various ducks (Pochard and Teal) are common on the various open areas along the road. Bitterns have been recorded in winter, while Marsh Harriers are regular, and rarities have included Purple Heron. The beach at Oxwich itself has small numbers of waders in winter including Sanderling.

Port Eynon Point

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This is the most southerly point in Gower, and a good sea watching location, offering a little shelter among the rocks. Drive along the A4118 west of Swansea, to its end in the village of Horton, park, and walk to the right along the rocky cliff line.

Worm's Head

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This is a steep-sided rocky peninsula extending out from the southwest of the Gower, and accessed from the small village of Rhossili, where there is a large car park. It is connected to the mainland by a rocky causeway, which can be crossed on foot at low tide. However, be careful that you don’t become one of those regularly trapped on the wrong side when the tide rises - it is only traversable for a total of about 5 hours at low tide! Peregrines nest on the peninsula, and can be seen harrying the resident Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. Choughs have recently re-colonised for the first time in many years, but are still very few in number, maintaining a precarious foothold here. Other breeding birds include small numbers of most species which can be seen in much greater numbers further west on the islands of the coast of Pembrokeshire - Fulmar, Shag, Kittiwake, Razorbill and Guillemot. There are usually a few Eider and Common Scoter out in the bay, but their numbers swell greatly in the winter, when Velvet Scoter, Great Northern and Red-throated Divers may join them. The rocky causeway to the Head is one of the best places in Glamorgan for wintering Purple Sandpipers and resident Rock Pipits, while Black Redstarts have also wintered in the area. Finally, as a westerly facing point, the area has good sea watching potential, although there is very little shelter from the desirable strong westerly wind. Nevertheless, Gannets are regularly seen offshore, and birds such as skuas, Sabine's Gulls, Manx Shearwaters, Storm and Leach’s Petrels must be possible.

Contributor

Gruff Dodd

Barri, Cymru / Wales

Gruff@doddg.freeserve.co.uk

County Recorder

Mark Hipkin (Gower)

6 Holly Road, Neath SA11 3PE

07875 431917

markhipkin1@gmail.com

Philip Bristow - East Glamorgan County Recorder

2 Forest Oak Close, Cyncoed, Cardiff CF23 6QN

07769 973890

phibrstw@gmail.com

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

An Atlas of Breeding Birds in West Glamorgan

DK Thomas 160 pages, b/w illus, maps. Gower Ornithological Society 1992

ISBN: 0952014610

Buy this book from NHBS.com

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

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.

Places to Stay

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

Carlton Hotel

Accommodation

This highly recommended seafront location, family run hotel is ideally situated in Mumbles close to all the facilities both the Mumbles and the beautiful Gower has to offer…

Worm's Head Hotel

Accommodation

A family run Hotel with stunning views of Rhossili Bay & the Worm's Head. The perfect place to get away from it all Its magnificent setting is wild yet peaceful…

Organisations

Glamorgan Bird Club & Gower Ornithological Society

Website

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

Website

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.

RSPB - West Glamorgan Local Group

Website

This is the website of the West Glamorgan Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife…

RSPB Cwm Clydach Wildlife Explorers Group

Website

We are a new group starting up in May 2011. The group will be based at Cwm Clydach RSPB Reserve for outdoor sessions and Craig Cefn Parc Welfare Hall for indoor sessions…

Reserves

Cwm Clydach RSPB

Website

Satellite View

Enjoy a stroll through a peaceful woodland setting on a lovely summer day. You might see pied flycatchers, redstarts and buzzards, as well as dippers along the reaches of the Lower Clydach river.

Kilvrough Manor Woods and Redden Hill

Webpage

Satellite View

Home to Buzzards, Woodpeckers and Nuthatch.

Oxwich National Nature Reserve

Webpage

Satellite View

Oxwich National Nature Reserve is situated on the Gower coast, approximately 20 kilometres from Swansea. Although it is a fairly small reserve, it offers a bewitching combination of beach, sand dunes, saltmarsh, freshwater lakes, woodland and limestone cliffs, together with all the diverse wildlife which such a range of habitats supports.

Blogs

Birders in Boxers

Blog

Adventures of Glamorgan birders, who sit in cars in their underwear … well two of them do after dipping on Dotterel on a wet and misty Garreg Lwyd…

Other Links

Caerlan Birding

Facebook Page

Birdwatching around Caerlan, where the Rhondda ends and the Ely begins..... and some other stuff.

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Jeremy Inglis

Gallery

Photographer and nature lover, living in South Wales in the United Kingdom…