County of Denbighshire

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus ©Hugh Linn Website

Vice County No: 50

Denbighshire VC50 includes the eastern half of Conwy unitary authority, most of Denbighshire UA and most of Wrexham UA. The southernmost part of the vice-county is in modern-day Powys and records are shared with Montgomeryshire.

Denbighshire has the distinction of being the longest known inhabited part of Wales. Palaeolithic sites have Neanderthal remains from 225,000 years ago. There are several castles in the region: Denbigh Castle, Rhuddlan Castle, Ruthin Castle, Castell Dinas Bran and Bodelwyddan Castle. One of Britain’s smallest cathedrals is at St Asaph, itself one of the smallest cities.

The eastern border of Denbighshire follows the ridge of the Clwydian Range, with a steep escarpment to the west, and a high point at Moel Famau (1,820 ft). The Clwydian Range is, with the upper Dee Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – one of just five in the whole of Wales. The Denbigh Moors (Mynydd Hiraethog) are in the west of the county and the Berwyn Range to the south. The River Clwyd in its broad, fertile Vale runs from south to north in the centre of the county.

There is a narrow coastal plain in the north and a length of coast and hill ranges on its eastern, southern and western borders. In the central part, the River Clwyd has created a broad fertile valley. It is primarily a rural county with little industry. Crops are grown in the Vale of Clwyd and cattle and sheep reared in the upland parts. The coast attracts tourists in the summer and hikers frequent the Clwydian Range, which with the upper Dee Valley, is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Denbigh, Ruthin and Saint Asaph are historic towns.

Llangollen hosts the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in July each year.

Birding Denbighshire

Beyond its wooded hills are the mountains of the Clwydian Range, home to upland birds such as Red Grouse, Meadow Pipits, Whinchat and Curlew. Two other extensive areas of upland habitat are Denbigh Moors in the east and the Berwyn Mountains in the south.

At the southern end of Denbigh Moors lies the extensive pine forest of Clocaenog, a great spot for watching raptors.  A spectacular view of the Dee’s wooded valley can be had from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at Trevor, a few miles east of Llangollen.

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.

Birding Wrexham

Wrexham County Borough is a local government principal area centred on the town of Wrexham in north-east Wales. The county borough has a population of nearly 135,000 inhabitants. Just under half of the population live either within the town of Wrexham or its surrounding conurbation of urban villages which has a population of around 63,000 people. The remainder live to the south and east of the town in more rural areas. The area has strong links with coal-mining.The county borough includes a portion of the eastern half of the historic county of Denbighshire (although not forming part of the principal area of Denbighshire), and two exclaves of historic Flintshire – English Maelor and the parish of Marford and Hoseley.

The best known area of nature preservation is the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve and comprises three peat bogs, Bettisfield Moss, Fenn’s Moss and Whixall Moss. The area is an extremely rare survivor – most mosses in the UK have been drained for agriculture, forested or become commercial peat digging areas at some stage. Commercial peat cutting ceased here altogether in 1991 and restoration work, as far as this is possible, has been carried out since then. Wildlife in the nature reserve includes kingfisher, watervoles, damselfly and dragonfly species such as the white-faced darter, various species of duck, and hobby. Plants include cotton sedge, bog moss (Sphagnum), great hairy willowherb, water figwort, flag iris, cross-leaved heath, bog rosemary, cranberry and sundew; common alder trees, alder buckthorn, grey sallow and crack willow predominate.

Top Sites
  • Alwen Reservoir & Brenig

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    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. Brenig has nesting Osprey (viewing hide) and adjacent reserve at Gors Maen Llwyd has Red and Black Grouse. GG Shrike regular in winter. Willow Tits frequent.
  • Clocaenog Forest, Mynydd Hiraethog

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    This huge 100 km2 forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife and some rare species, including the largest population of red squirrels in Wales, rare black grouse and wild Przewalski horses, as well as being one of the best spots in the area to enjoy mountain biking of all levels, walking, riding and to simply enjoy the great outdoors and the stunning North Wales scenery. As well as woodland birds this is an excellent site for seeing Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard and Raven
  • Gresford Flash

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    A ten-acre lake used mostly for boating but its relatively small size makes it easy to observe. It is used a lot by gulls including some scarcer species such as Yellow-legged, Little & Caspian Gull. It is also good for ducks, geese and grebes.
  • Loggerheads Country Park

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    There is a visitor centre here and the park can attract a large number of people. However, if you are prepared to walk some way from the centre the sight of Dipper, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail in the stream and Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Woodpeckers, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart in the woods will reward you.
  • Moel Famau Country Park

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    The park consists of paths through coniferous woodland and open moorland to the summit of Moel Famau. Most heather clad areas hold Red Grouse, but these are elusive unless accidently flushed. Meadow Pipits yes common, Whinchat very hard to find, Stonechat yes common, Skylark, Wheatear on migration and Curlew virtually disappeared are common in most part. Ravens, Buzzards, Peregrine Red Kite and Kestrel can be seen over most of the moorland, with Hen Harrier and Merlin very very rarely flying low over the slopes. Crossbills and Siskins in the forestry plantations
  • RSPB Conwy RSPB Reserve

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    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.
  • Ruabon Mountain & World’s End SSSI

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    The Ruabon Moors (managed for Red Grouse shooting) lie partly within Wrexham county borough and partly within Denbighshire - Ruabon Mountain is in the southern part, on the western side there are more cliffs at World's End. This site is special because of lekking Black Grouse and a major conservation programme has caused their population to increase in recent years. Other birds which can be seen include wood warbler, whinchat, peregrine falcon, merlin, hen harrier, short-eared owl and ring ouzel. Other interesting species have been seen there including Great Grey Shrike and Dartford Warbler.
  • Glenn E Morris

    Mold |

  • Ian Spence

    Mold |

  • Phillip Gatley

    Conwy |

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
Useful Information
  • BTO Locally

    The BTO splits the old county of Clwyd into east and west. See this map for the boundary. Clwyd West (roughly Denbighshire north and west of Ruthin) Mel ab Owain Tel: 01745 826528 Email: Clwyd East (southeast Denbighshire and Flintshire) Anne Brenchley Tel: 01352 750118 Email:
  • County Bird Report

    Denbighshire is included in the North-east Wales Bird Report, produced by the Clwyd Bird Recording Group (affiliated to the Welsh Ornithological Society). Annual reports for 2019-21 are available online from Cofnod and the 2022 report will be published there shortly. Wrexham Birdwatchers Group produces an annual report of birds in the Wrexham Unitary Authority
  • Clwyd Ornithological Society

    Clwyd Ornithological Society meets monthly through the winter in Rhuddlan (see vice county Flintshire). Wrexham Birdwatchers Group meets on the first Friday of each month in Gresford. Contact: Marian Williams, 10 Lake View, Gresford, Wrexham LL12 8PU. Tel: 01978 854633. The group has a Facebook page, with recent sightings and details of forthcoming events.
  • North Wales Wildlife Trust

    North Wales Wildlife Trust is one of 46 Wildlife Trusts working across the UK. With the invaluable support of volunteers and members we manage 35 nature reserves in north Wales. We also work with other organisations and landowners to protect and connect wildlife sites across the county and inspire local communities and young people to care for wildlife where they live.
  • Welsh Ornithological Society

    The Welsh Ornithological Society is a registered charity with a growing membership of around 400 individual, family and Young Birder members. It is governed by a Constitution and holds its Annual General Meeting as a precursor to a national conference, usually in November. The trustees on Council are responsible for running the Society and are drawn from all over Wales, with a variety of different interests and experience in birds and their conservation. The priorities are guided by a five year strategy , most recently updated in 2020.
  • Wrexham Birdwatchers Group

    Wrexham Birdwatchers Group meets at 7.30pm on the first Friday of each month. During the winter, there are lectures at Gresford Memorial Hall LL12 8PS (see map below). In the summer a local birdwatching walk is organised on Friday evenings. All-day field trips (bring lunch) take place on Saturdays or Sundays throughout the year, usually starting at 9.30am from Belle Vue Garage, Wrexham LL13 7NU.

Abbreviations Key

  • FC Gwydyr

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    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…
  • FCW Nercwys Woods

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    Coed Nercwys is a 322 acre site owned by Forestry Commission Wales and managed in partnership with Denbighshire Countryside Service. The site is bursting with history from Bronze Age burial, mining and agriculture; to plantation and recreation. Nightjars, long eared owls and great crested newts are some of the rarer inhabitants.
  • LNR Llangwyfan Woods

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    Coed Llangwyfan is a 29 acre recovering broad-leaved woodland below the Iron Age hillfort on Pen-y-Cloddiau. The site is owned by Forestry Commission Wales and managed in partnership with the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the upper forest roads in the open heath, Whinchats and Stonechats are regularly seen amongst the Meadow Pipits…
  • LNR Rhuddlan Nature Reserve

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    Rhuddlan Nature Reserve is fully accessible for all. The site has been transformed into an ideal location for wildlife to thrive and a recreational area for local people and visitors. The short route takes you around ponds, where birds nest every year and meadows, which have been recently improved in partnership with the local community and schools.
  • Loggerheads Country Park

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    Limestone influences all parts of the park and the nearby hamlet of Cadole. It has not only shaped the appearance of the landscape but also influences the plants that grow here, both the flower-strewn grasslands on the clifftops and the damp riverside woodlands.
  • NNR Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses

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    Just over the border in England, this nature reserve is part of Fenn’s, Whixall, Bettisfield, Wem and Cadney Mosses, which together form Britain’s third largest lowland raised bog SSSI. The reserve is managed jointly by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales (NRW). This wonderful nature reserve is worth visiting in any season, although the vast open, brown expanse with which you are confronted during the winter and very early spring is daunting until you realise that, at any time of the year, this site is a haven for a vast and ever-changing pageant of wildlife. At least forty-two bird species have been recorded at the reserve including Hen Harrier (Circus cyeius), Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), Long-eared Owl (Asio otus), Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria), Peregrine (Falco peregrinus), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and Yellowhammer
  • NRW Clocaenog Forest, Hiraethog

    WebpageSatellite View
    This huge 100 km2 forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife and some rare species, including the largest population of red squirrels in Wales, rare black grouse and wild Przewalski horses. The Forest has been a site of a major conservation and research since 1992. Its peace and quiet means that many rare species are now able to thrive. The population of rare black grouse has increased by 88%, but spotting a red squirrel is still an event to celebrate, as even now they average just one squirrel to every 3 to 4 hectares.
  • NRW Moel Famau Forest

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    The Clwydian Range is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Mold. Natural Resources Wales looks after a number of woodlands and forests in the Clwydian Range which offer a range of waymarked walking trails and bridleways.
  • NWWT Aberduna

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    The site has fantastic views of the Clwydian Range AONB and comprises a wonderful mix of limestone grassland and ancient woodland growing out of cliffs and limestone pavement. Over 28 species of butterfly can be seen here including Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Brown Argus and Common blue. The adjoining fields and dry glacial river valleys are excellent places to see wax cap fungi and the rare Moonwort. The woodland is coppiced to create perfect conditions for woodland butterflies, invertebrates and birds.
  • NWWT Blaen-y-Weirglodd

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    Blaen-Y-Weirglodd is a wild and remote site protected for its peat bog habitat once common in the upland valleys of North Wales. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with a rich variety of bog plants such as sphagnum mosses, round-leaved sundew, bog asphodel, marsh violet, marsh pennywort and bog bean. Snipe are common winter visitors to the reserve and, between late April to July, listen out for grasshopper warbler. Brown hare and stoat are frequently seen at the site and in surrounding fields.
  • NWWT Gors Maen Llwyd

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    A stunning upland heather moorland home to many upland birds with areas of peat bog and wet flushes that are rich in plant and insect life. A great site to see mountain pansy, heathers, red grouse, black grouse, hen harrier, sky lark, meadow pipit, cuckoo, adder, brown hare and the occasional osprey. It is the largest of the Trust's reserves at 280 ha, purchased in 1988 and forms part of the Mynydd Hiraethog SSSI.
  • NWWT Marford Quarry

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    This old sand and gravel quarry was the source of the aggregate for the construction of the Mersey Tunnel. It is now a SSSI and most noted for its invertebrates and wild flowers. Over 110 species of bees, wasps and ants have been recorded including rare solitary and spider hunting wasp species. Over 30 species of butterflies have been recorded and 300 species of plants including the rare wild liquorice, green flowered helleborine, bee orchids, pyramidal orchids and common twayblades. The site also has a healthy population of slow worms.
  • NWWT Three Cornered Meadow

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    Nearby - Three Cornered meadow is a species rich hay meadow on the Dee floodplain on the Welsh-English border. It is a valuable pocket of semi-natural grassland surrounded by intensively managed farmland
  • RSPB Dee Estuary-Point of Air

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    Over the border in Flintshire but come during the winter months and you'll be able to see thousands of birds feeding. High tide is the best time to visit, when the rising waters force the birds onto the saltmarshes, so you get even closer views.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • North Wales Birding Forum

    Twitter Feed
    Visit the North Wales Birding Forum for all the latest sightings in the area. All are welcome (and it's free!)
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.
  • 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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