County of Monmouthshire

Dipper Cinclus cinclus ©Chris Thomas
Birding Monmouthshire

Monmouthshire (Welsh: Sir Fynwy) is a county in south east Wales. The name derives from the historic county of Monmouthshire of which it covers the eastern 60%. The largest town is Abergavenny. Other towns and large villages are Caldicot, Chepstow, Monmouth, Magor and Usk.The eastern and southern boundaries of the historic county and the current principal area are the same, along the River Wye and Severn estuary; however, the western two-fifths of the historic county are now administered by the other unitary authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Caerphilly and Newport.

The county has some contrasting habitats from the hills in the north to the farmland and woodlands of the Wye Valley and large reservoirs. Magor Marsh is the last relatively natural area of fenland on the Gwent Levels. There are many sites of local importance for nature conservation. The County Council has been working with Gwent Wildlife Trust to identify Local Wildlife Sites. Gwent Wildlife Trust gives management advice to the owners of Local Wildlife Sites.

Top Sites
  • Black Mountains

    Satellite View
    The Black Mountains in the north are completely rural. Turbulent rocky streams, small pastures, patches of alder, ash and oak woodland. The slopes (ffridd) between the enclosed farmland and the open moor are rough grassland with bracken and scattered hawthorns and rowan. The plateaux support heather and bilberry, moor-land and peat bogs. Rocky crags and cliffs, and disused quarries are also present.
  • Chepstow Park Wood

    WebpageSatellite View
    Chepstow Park Wood, at the right times of the year, has crossbill, nightjar, woodcock, redpoll, siskin. Goshawk can be seen in various locations, as can hobby.
  • Llandegfedd Reservoir

    InformationSatellite View
    Llandegfedd Reservoir is more important for wintering wildfowl. There is sailing on part of the lake in the summer. Again, many good spots are too small, and too numerous to list.
  • The Wye Valley

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    The Wye Valley is a region in itself, with steep, wood-clad slopes, and is a Mecca for botanists. Symonds Yat viewing point is a well-known for Peregrine.
  • Ruth Brown

County Recorder
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Gwent

    | By WA Venables, AD Baker, RM Clarke, C Jones, JMS Lewis and SJ Tyler | Helm | 2008 | Hardback | 416 pages, line drawings, 32 pages of colour photos, distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713676334 Buy this book from
  • Gwent Ornithological Society

    Secretary - Trevor Russell - The Pines, Highfield Road, Monmouthshire NP5 3HP 01600 716266
  • Gwent Wildlife Trust

    Gwent covers the lower Wye and Usk river valleys and the Severn Estuary in South East Wales. In the last fifty years Gwent has lost two thirds of its ancient woodland and the lowlands surrounding the Severn Estuary are threatened by industrial development
  • Monmouthshire Meadows Group

    Our aim is to conserve and restore flower rich grasslands in Monmouthshire by enabling members to manage their own fields and gardens effectively

Abbreviations Key

  • GWT Magor Marsh SSSI

    WebpageSatellite View
    Magor Marsh is the last relatively natural area of fenland on the Gwent Levels. From the fleeting glimpse of a kingfisher, to the sight of colourful dragonflies darting over the reens, this is an inspiring place to visit. In autumn and winter the reserve is particularly attractive to birdwatchers, as the pond provides a sanctuary for wintering wildfowl and passing migrants.
  • Gwent Nature Reserves

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    Gwent Wildlife Trust manages 30 nature reserves across the Gwent. These include wetlands, meadows, and ancient woodlands.
  • NNR Lady Park Wood

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    Lying in the midst of the swathe of ancient broadleaved woodland that sweeps down the Wye Valley from Goodrich to Chepstow is the environmental gem of Lady Park Wood. Described by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) as being 'an oustanding example of near-natural old-growth structure in broadleaved woodland', this site has been the subject of studies and long-term monitoring and has provided many clues about the history of our native woodlands as well as valuable guidance on how we should conserve these habitats, which are of such value to both our wildlife and ourselves. Leaving fallen or standing dead wood in place provides ideal habitats for fungi and invertebrates to thrive, and the Wye Valley woodlands are also home to nearly all our woodland bird species as well as mammals, which include the Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius and some rare bat species.
  • Welsh Water: Llandegfedd Reservoir

    InformationSatellite View
    Wintering wildfowl include large numbers of wigeon, teal and pochard, as well as goldeneye and ruddy duck, and Bewick's swan and goosander regularly use the reservoir as a roost, the swans feeding by day on Olway Meadows and the goosanders probably coming from the River Usk. Divers and rarer grebes are occasional visitors, as are sea duck (notably long-tailed duck). Numbers of common gull, herring gull and black-headed gulls roost, and siskin and redpoll occur in the waterside trees. Residents include great crested grebe, sparrowhawk and buzzard, while cormorant and grey heron are regular visitors, and merlin, peregrine and goshawk have been recorded. A variety of waders pass through, with ringed plover and little ringed plover, oystercatcher and common sandpiper and green sandpipers being among the more likely. Other migrants have included osprey and hobby. Breeding summer visitors include yellow wagtail.
Places to Stay

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • Parva Farmhouse Riverside Guesthouse & Restaurant

    Parva is a 17th Century former farmhouse idylically set just 50 metres from the banks of the River Wye, next door to the medieval St. MichaelÆs Church and less than a mile from the historic Tintern Abbey. This small, friendly, guesthouse oozes olde worlde character and comfort in an informal atmosphere where you can relax and put the pressures of your daily routines on hold while you enjoy our hospitality and the surrounding countryside…
  • Steve Williams - Valley Naturalist

    A blog for the 'new generation' naturalist in Gwent and sometimes a fraction over the border. Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

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