Conwy County Borough

Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla ©Henry Cook
Birding Conwy

Conwy County Borough is a unitary authority area in the north of Wales. It is at something of a crossroads in North Wales, sitting roughly half way between the English border and the famous Chough and seabird haven of South Stack on the tip of Anglesey. The River Conwy, after which the county borough is named, lies wholly within the area: rising in Snowdonia (one third of the county borough lies in the national park) and flowing through Llanrwst and Trefriw en route to the Irish Sea by Conwy. The river here marks the border between the historic counties of Caernarfonshire and Denbighshire. From its eastern boundary at the river Clwyd near Rhyl, to the west where it meets Gwynedd, the county provides numerous opportunities to catch up with birds which are difficult, if not impossible to see elsewhere in the UK.

To the north is Conwy’s Irish sea coast, the entire length of which is home to the very busy A55. Despite this there are places, Llanddulas and Rhos on Sea for example, where you can enjoy waders like Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones along with the commoner Redshank, Dunlin etc. This same coast is also home in winter to large Scoter flocks; mostly Common, but Surf and Velvet Scoters are occasionally seen too. Seen also on the coast are various species of wintering Divers and Grebes.

Probably the best known birding spot is RSPB Conwy which offers tremendous, year-round birding. There are a mass of various ducks here in winter, for instance in early 2014 there were up to 3 Scaup. Every winter there are Pochard, Goldeneye,Teal, Gadwall and more. The reserve is alive with warblers in spring and summer, in it’s woodland & scrubby areas and reedbeds. A feeding station in the Wildlife Garden often has Bullfinch among the commoner finches and tits, the odd Great Spotted Woodpecker with the winter additions of Long-Tailed Tits, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. The views from the Coffee Shop here are absolutely stunning, both of the magnificent 13th century Conwy Castle plus the Carneddau and Tal-y-Fan mountains, after which hides on the reserve have been named.

Further up Conwy Valley is another must – Caerhun Church. It is an excellent site for the elusive but beautiful Hawfinch that shows here or in the surrounding area quite often. Carrying on south from here will take you to the southern edge of Conwy County and deep into Snowdonia. Buzzard and Raven are very common in the area, Red Kite are encountered more and more as they venture away from their traditional haunts further south. Pied Flycatcher and Redstart breed in good numbers in the woodlands.

Conwy is a county perhaps little known outside of North Wales, but time spent here will pay the visitor back richly, both in quality and quantity of birds seen, in some of the most breathtaking scenery anywhere in Britain.

Good views of waders and wildfowl can also be had at Lafan Sands further 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.

Top Sites
  • Alwen Reservoir

    Satellite View
    This reservoir is surrounded by conifer plantations and moor land. Bird species include Great-crested Grebe, Common Sandpiper and many over-wintering duck. The plantations attract Goldcrests plus many other resident woodland birds, irruptions of Crossbill occur from time to time.
  • Conwy RSPB Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Wildfowl, waders and rarities.
  • Phillip Gatley

    | phillip.gatley@sky.comllip Gatley

County Recorder
Useful Reading

  • The Breeding Birds of North Wales

    | (Adar Nythu Gogledd Cymru) | Edited by Anne Brenchley, Geoff Gibbs, Rhion Pritchard & Ian M Spence | Liverpool University Press | 2013 | Hardback | 448 Pages & 200 Colour Illustrations & Photos with maps | ISBN: 9781846318580 Buy this book from
  • Cambrian Ornithological Society

    Facebook Page
    COS is the county bird club for northwest Wales and produces the annual Cambrian Bird Report for the counties of Caernarfon, Anglesey and Meirionnydd. COS is affiliated to the Welsh Ornithological Society. Indoor meetings are held at Pensychnant Conservation Centre at 7.30pm. Hot drink and biscuits provided afterwards. Donation requested: £1 (members), £2 (non-members).
  • North Wales Wildlife Trust

    We are the only local organisation dedicated to conserving all habitats and species across North Wales for the enjoyment of people and the benefit of wildlife. Founded in 1963, we have grown into an important voice for wildlife, and for local people who care about the future of their natural environment. With over 4,000 members in North Wales, and working with 46 other Wildlife Trusts, we are part of the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK’s habitats and species, whether in the countryside, towns or at sea.
  • Welsh Ornithological Society

    Within its 8000 square miles (c.20,000 square kilometres), Wales contains a diverse range of habitats that are important for birds. Some, such as the seabird colonies of Anglesey and Pembrokeshire, have probably been that way for thousands of years. By contrast, the lowland valleys, the upland peaks and plateaux and the two wide estuaries that border England to the east have been greatly modified by centuries of farming, and more recently by heavy industry in the south and demand for timber and freshwater in the rural north and centre.

Abbreviations Key

  • FC Gwydyr

    WebpageSatellite View
    You may see Black Grouse in the Gwydyr south and Tyn y Cwm woodlands. These areas are the younger parts of the forest where moorland meet trees and are the habitats favoured by the grouse. The forest is also rich in raptors and Buzzards Goshawks, Peregrines and Merlin have all been sighted here…
  • LNR Pensychnant SSSI

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Pensychnant works with many local naturalists and local and national wildlife and conservation organisations to foster the public’s appreciation and understanding of nature and to record and safeguard the wildlife and natural beauty of North Wales
  • NP Snowdonia (Eryri)

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Choice or Welsh or English - Eryri or the Snowdonia National Park was designated a National park in 1951, the third National Park to be created in England and Wales under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the countryside Act. It is the second largest National park in England and Wales, covering some 2,171 square kilometres (838 square miles) of north west Wales, and including the Carneddau, and Glyderau mountain ranges as well as the Highest mountain in England and Wales (1085m/3560ft)- Yr Wyddfa (the Tomb in welsh), or Snowdon from which the Park takes its (english) name. The welsh name Eryri means 'place of the eagles'.
  • RSPB Conwy

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Conwy RSPB nature reserve is a wetland on the east bank of the Conwy estuary, created from material dug out during construction of the A55 road tunnel. It is now home to a variety of wildlife, and a great place to introduce families to nature.
Other Links
  • Clwyd Birds Web

    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.
  • Marc Hughes - Great and Little Orme Birding

    Last Updated 2013Birds and Wildlife blog of the Great Orme Country Park and Little Orme LNR, Conwy…
  • We Bird North Wales

    This multi-contributor blog is a reel of North Wales bird news, ID discussion, and any other trip reports and useful information added by birders regularly out in the field. Please contact me at: robinsandham (at) if you want to contribute or report any notable sightings.

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