East Glamorgan

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis ©Mic Clark Website

Vice County No: 41b

East Glamorgan VC41b covers the unified authorities of Bridgend, Rhondda/Cynon Taf, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Merthy Tydfil along with the western part of Caerphilly. East Glamorgan is treated as a separate recording area from Gower by WOS and local bird recorders, and also includes the southern part of Brecknockshire around Llwyn-Onn reservoir.

Bridgend (Welsh: Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr) is a county borough with a total population of around 140,000 people, and contains the settlements of Bridgend, after which it is named, Maesteg, and the seaside town of Porthcawl and is located with Swansea to the west and Cardiff to the east. The Ogmore River, which runs through Bridgend, flows into the sea between Ogmore-By-Sea and the Merthyr Mawr sand-dunes and ultimately flows into the Bristol Channel. The area lies at the geographical heart of south Wales with a land area of 285 square kilometres stretches 20 km from east to west and occupies the Llynfi, Garw and Ogmore valleys.

Caerphilly, for the most part, it lies within the recording area of Gwent and that ‘preserved county’, although a small part of the west of the county is within the Glamorgan recording area, including its main and largest town is Caerphilly and the nearby Bedwas Riverside Park.

Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales and the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is the country’s chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. The population of the larger metropolitan area is c.1.1m  makes up over a third of the total population of Wales. It is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010 and ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic’s alternative tourist destinations. Cardiff also claims to have the largest concentration of castles of any city in the world.

The centre of Cardiff is relatively flat and is bounded by hills on the outskirts to the east, north and west; it is built on reclaimed marshland. Cardiff is bordered to the west by the rural Vale of Glamorgan, also known as The Garden of Cardiff, to the east by the city of Newport, to the north by the South Wales Valleys and to the south by the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel. The River Taff winds through the centre of the city and together with the River Ely flows into the freshwater lake of Cardiff Bay. A third river, the Rhymney flows through the east of the city entering directly into the Severn Estuary.

Birding East Glamorgan

Its newest wildlife ‘attraction’ was created to offset the loss of saltmarsh habitat created (2001) by Cardiff Bay barrage. Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve covers an area of approximately twenty acres of freshwater marsh in the lake created by the barrage. Although public access is not permitted onto the main body of the reserve (to allow excellent breeding and feeding conditions to develop for the species present). It is possible to view many bird species from the public area.

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough (Welsh: Merthyr Tudful) is a unitary authority and has a population of c.60,000. It consists of the northern part of the Taff Valley and the smaller neighbouring Taff Bargoed Valley. It is located in a South Wales Valleys environment overlapping into the south of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and this, along with the area’s rich history, means it has huge potential for tourism in Wales. The Fforest Fawr Geopark also falls within the northern border of Merthyr Tydfil. There is also about 2889 ha of open common land within the borough. The Taf Fechan Reserve situated in Cefn Coed and a second reserve, Pontygwaith which is privately owned, lies in the southern end on the Borough. Penmoelallt Community Woodland and Cilsanws Nature Reserve are managed by the Merthyr Tydfil & District Naturalists Society, and work with the community and Forestry Commission to conserve and promote the natural environment.

Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) is a county borough and 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. 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. The chemical industry has also had adverse effects due to the dumping of toxic waste in the now disused Brofiscin Quarry in the village of Groes-faen. Clean-up costs have been estimated to be over £100 million.

The Vale of Glamorgan, often referred to as The Vale, is a county borough with an economy based largely on agriculture and chemicals, it is the southernmost unitary authority in Wales. Attractions include Barry Island Pleasure Park (known for the BBC sitcom, Gavin & Stacey), the Barry Tourist Railway, Porthkerry Park, St Donat’s Castle, Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and Cosmeston Medieval Village. It is also the location of Atlantic College, one of the United World Colleges. The largest town is Barry. It covers 130 square miles and has 33 miles of coastline. Much of the population inhabits villages, hamlets and individual farms. The area is low-lying, with a maximum height of 450 feet above sea level at Tair Onnen to the east of Cowbridge. As the Glamorgan Heritage Coast faces westwards out to the Atlantic, it bears the brunt of onshore, westerly and south-westerly winds: ideal for surfing, but a nuisance for ships sailing up the Bristol Channel to Cardiff. Its best-known nature reserve is Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. The Vale has a diverse range of plants, animals and habitats.

Top Sites
  • CP Cosmeston Lake

    InformationSatellite View
    An early morning visit is recommended here, so as to avoid the hoards of dog walkers, which come here. Walk swiftly away from the tame flock of Mute Swans and the motley collection of ducks on the first pond in front of the visiting centre, by following the boardwalk to the left. This crosses a small area of reeds, which has breeding Reed Buntings, Reed and Sedge Warblers. In this area it splits, but it doesn't really matter which branch you take, as both come out onto the same bridleway, in front of the second pool. This area of bushes is worth a few minutes, for birds like Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Bullfinch. This second pool is much better for birds than the first, being reed-lined in places and less prone to disturbance. Turn right along the bridleway until you come to a bridge over a small channel which connects the two ponds - this gives a good view over both ponds, and especially over the largest expanse of reeds at the far side of the second pool. Last winter this area of reeds held a couple of Bitterns and a Pied-billed Grebe. At the top end of the second pool, a path leads off left, and circles the whole pool, rejoining the bridleway at the mock medieval village near the visitor centre. This walk is a lot quieter than most of the rest.
  • Cardiff Bay

    InformationSatellite View
    The Taf mudflats have now been permanently flooded by the Cardiff Bay barrage which has reduced its attractiveness to waders, however it has attracted Long-tailed Duck, Slav Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, American Wigeon, Red-throated Diver, Common Tern, Little Gull and Glaucous Gull since it has been flooded. The Rhymni Estuary is still good for waders. There is also a small marsh nature reserve on the east side in front of St Davids hotel, which is beginning to attract fresh water species, such as Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Teal, and also flocks of Linnet & Chaffinch, and Reed Bunting, and there were up to 6 Brambling there in the winter of 2002.
  • Craig-y-llyn

    InformationSatellite 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!
  • FC CWT Caerphilly Woodlands

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    In 2002 the woodlands (comprising 'the Warren', 'Wernddu Woods' and 'Coed y Fan') were saved from the threat of development thanks to the work of the then newly formed Caerphilly Woodlands Trust (CWT), the Forestry Commission and other local partners.
  • LNR Parc Slip Nature Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    Parc Slip is a large nature reserve. The area comprises a 305 acre ex-colliery and the reserve is managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. It has a range of environments including woodlands, wetlands and meadows. The reserve has hides for wildlife watching. Birds such as lapwing, bullfinch, linnet, little grebe, skylark, mallard, tufted duck, teal, goosander, pochard, snipe, meadow pipit, teal, widgeon, gadwall, pochard, red-breasted merganser and water rail are present either all year round or as winter visitors.
  • Lavernock Point

    InformationSatellite View
    This is undoubtedly the best sea watching spot in Glamorgan, outside the Gower. Although it can't really compete with spots on the south and east coasts of England, or even some of the Pembrokeshire headlands, it regularly produces small numbers of seabirds, including Gannet, Manx Shearwaters and skuas. It is also an excellent spot for migrants, in both spring and autumn, with good scrubby cover along the cliff top. Rarities are often recorded among the usual summer visitors, and have included Bonelli's Warbler, Richard's Pipit and Firecrest.
  • NNR Kenfig National Nature Reserve

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    The largest freshwater lake in south Wales; Kenfig Pool is a 70 acre freshwater lake that has two bird hides. It is one of Wales’ finest wildlife habitats for wild orchids and insects. The freshwater lake is fringed with a reed bed. Migrant wading birds include dunlin, ringed plover, little ringed plover, little stint, common sandpiper, greenshank and black-tailed godwit. In the winter expect to find good numbers of water birds including mallard, pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye, teal, widgeon, gadwall, great crested grebe, mute swan, Canada geese, cormorant and the bittern. In the spring and summer you will find plenty of warblers here including blackcap, willow warbler, whitethroat, chiffchaff, reed warbler, sedge warbler, Cetti's warbler, lesser whitethroat and grasshopper warbler. The coast is approximately one mile away via the dunes to Sker beach, giving good views to Swansea Bay and the Gower peninsula.
  • Ogmore Estuary (Aberogwr)

    InformationSatellite View
    This site came to prominence in 1990 when a Semi-palmated Sandpiper was found here. Sadly, both for the bird and for birders, the bird was eventually taken by a wintering Peregrine. This is a nice little spot for wintering waders, including Little Stint, Dunlin, Redshank and Ringed Plovers. Rock Pipits are commonly seen here, along with Meadow Pipits, and Water Rail have been seen.
County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 321

    ....at the end of 2022 the total number of species recorded in Eastern Glamorgan stood at 321.
Useful Reading

  • Birding in Glamorgan

    by Alan Rosney and Richard Smith, published by Glamorgan Bird Club. It describes 53 birdwatching sites, with maps and 29 colour plates. RRP £14 (plus p&p) from Alan Rosney, 10 Parc-y-Nant Nantgarw CF15 7TJ. Tel: 01443 841555. E-mail: Alan Rosney. ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • County Bird Report

    £7.50 (plus £1.51 p&p) from John Wilson, 122 Westbourne Road, Vale of Glamorgan CF64 3HH. Tel: 029 2033 9424 Email: johndw1948@gmail.com ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of Cardiff

    | By David RW Gilmore | Glamorgan BC | 2006 | Paperback | 56 pages, 16 colour plates | ISBN: 9780955448300 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of Glamorgan

    | By Clive Hurford & Peter Lansdown | D.Brown & Sons Ltd | 1995 | Hardback | 236 Pages | ISBN: 9781872808345 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • BTO Local Rep

    Daniel Jenkins-Jones. Tel: 07428 167576 Email: eastglamwebs@gmail.com
  • East Glamorgan Bird List

    For each of the species on the East Glamorgan Bird List, the year in which it was first recorded, if known, is included. Of the 321 species, 245 were recorded from 2018 to 2022 inclusive; for each of the remaining 76 species, the year in which it was last recorded is also included.
  • Cardiff University Ornithological Society - Bird Club

    Facebook Page
    For those with an interest for birds and all things feathered 🪶 Follow us on instagram: @cuornithsoc
  • Glamorgan Bird Club

    Formed in 1989, we publish an annual Bird Report, organise a full year-long programme of field trips and walks, including a monthly walk at Kenfig National Nature Reserve, and a series of live indoor or Zoom talks and presentations from October through to April.
  • Glamorgan Rarities Committee

    Welcome to the GRC Recorders pages. This blog provides details on all the relevant news of Glamorgan’s scarcer birds, plus all BBRC & WRP decisions that affect us locally. It will also be used to document the status and occurrence of these scarcer species and we welcome contributions from anyone with photographs, artwork or documentation of rarities past, present and future. The GRC also welcomes all seawatching news from around Glamorgan and news of passage migrants in spring & autumn, uncommon birds in our area and unusual behaviour.
  • Merthyr Tydfil & District Naturalists' Society

    Facebook Page
    The Society was formed in 1977 when a group of like-minded people came together to share their love of Natural History and the countryside.Renowned for its industrial heritage Merthyr Tydfil and the country side around give rise to a rich variety of natural habitats; a wide range of geological features; many fascinating reminders of our human pre-industrial presence and some rare and endangered species including the Sorbus Leyana trees in Penmoelallt Community Woodland, some of the rarest trees in the world!
  • South & West Wales Wildlife Trust

    We have over 80 nature reserves in Glamorgan, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. We look after bluebell scented woods, wild islands, plunging waterfalls, buzzing flower meadows and much more.

Abbreviations Key

  • CP Bedwas Riverside Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    With all-weather levelled surfaced paths you can enjoy a walk along the river bank with summer swallows for company or savour the flower-rich meadows alive with insects. This oasis of small fields and hedges, the remnants of a former farming landscape.
  • CP Cwm Clydach Countryside Park

    WebsiteSatellite View
    CwmClydach Countryside Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty which offers a range of walks, as well as the chance to spot Kingfishers, herons, butterflies, newts and more. There are two lakes, referred to locally as the “top lake” and “bottom lake” as well as waterfalls. Enjoy a gentle stroll around the lake and feed the ducks, before enjoying a drink and snack at the on-site cafe, or explore further into the countryside and mountains that surround the park
  • CP Dare Valley Country Park

    WebsiteSatellite View
    You can watch the bird table from the visitor centre, spot the nest boxes in the wood or take your binoculars to the viewing platform. Listen for the call of the cuckoo over the cwm or glimpse the colourful flash of the kingfisher by the stream.
  • Forest Farm

    WebsiteSatellite View
    In March 1990 a Friends group was formed to contribute in whatever way possible to the protection and development of the Forest Farm Country Park and the Glamorganshire Canal Local Nature Reserve, and to promote the study of flora and fauna in their natural habitat.
  • LNR Cilsanws Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Larches and Scots Pine grow along the Western margins of the reserve, with more unusual rowan or mountain ash trees springing up on the higher ground. The Rowans attract species such as thrush, starlings and blackbirds, and swifts, swallows, house-martins, buzzards and kestrels are commonly present. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a peregrine flying by.
  • LNR Coed Garnllwyd

    WebpageSatellite View
    Amongst the varied birdlife are Buzzard, Tawny Owl, woodpeckers, Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Migrants include Garden Warbler in summer and Woodcock in winter. Dead timber within the woodland supports invertebrates and fungi including Scarlet Elfcups
  • LNR Coed y Bedw

    WebpageSatellite View
    There is a great diversity of resident woodland birds including Tawny Owl, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper, which are augmented in summer by Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Willow Warbler and Blackcap.
  • LNR Cosmeston Lakes Country Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    Cosmeston has a variety of habitats covering over 100 hectares of land and water, some areas designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest protecting the rare and diverse plant and animal species.
  • LNR Craig Yr Hesg Nature Reserve

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    This is not a Woodland Trust wood, but to the best of our knowledge, the details we've been given are correct. We provide the facility to search for publicly accessible woods, whoever owns them, to ensure that everyone has access to the benefits of woodland.
  • LNR Cwm Colhuw

    WebpageSatellite View
    The scrub and hedgerows provide nesting habitat for a number of birds such as Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Grasshopper Warbler, Linnet and Yellowhammer, and also summer migrants such as Willow Warbler and Whitethroat. Kestrel breed on the adjacent cliffs and use the grassland for hunting, and Peregrine is regularly seen.
  • LNR Glamorganshire Canal & Long Wood Nature Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Located on the banks of the Taff just south of the M4 motorway, Forest Farm is full of surprises. Sections of the former Glamorganshire Canal still survive here and a wide range of habitats including woodland, scrub, hay meadow, ponds and marshland. The Taff Trail runs through the site and to the south is the recently restored Melingriffith Waterpump – a relic of the industrial past of the area.
  • LNR Hamadryad Park & Cardiff Bay Wetlands Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    The site comprises around 14 hectares of land in Butetown, Cardiff. Much of the park is playing fields and open grassland crossed by broad, metalled pathways, screened from the Butetown Link Road by earth bunds which have been planted with trees. The Cardiff Bay Wetlands nature reserve is located south and east of the Butetown Link Road. Good views of the wetlands and the bay are afforded from the boardwalk, which is also a good place for bird watching.
  • LNR Howardian

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Howardian LNR in the lower Rhymney valley Penylan, Cardiff is a wildlife oasis of woodland, wildflower meadow, ponds and reedbeds.
  • LNR Lavernock Point

    WebpageSatellite View
    Lavernock Point is established as a particularly fine nature reserve where wildlife interest is combined with historical interests in a dramatic and picturesque coastal reserve. The unimproved limestone grassland supports varied and colourful plants such as dyer's greenweed, devil's-bit scabious, common spotted orchid and fleabane. Butterflies have been observed and recorded by the reserve's warden for over twenty years and more than twenty five species have been identified.
  • LNR Parc Slip Nature Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    A restored opencast site consisting of grassland, woodland, wetlands, including lakes with bird hides. Parc Slip Nature Park lies in a valley bottom on the watershed between the Ogmore and Afon Kenfig catchments, and has had a history of mining from the nineteenth century to the present day. There are four bird hides, overlooking three wetland sites, a wader scrape, a small lake with an island, and Park Pond. A further three wetlands and open water areas add further interest. The wader scrapes which were added in 2013 have attracted a wide range of wildlife which can be observed from the Mary Gillham raised hide.
  • LNR Penmoelallt Woods

    WebpageSatellite View
    Worthy of sensitive management, Penmoelallt has been sympathetically rejuvenated by the Merthyr Tydfil and District Naturalists’ Society (‘The Nats’) in partnership with Forestry Commission Wales.
  • LNR Pontygwaith

    WebpageSatellite View
    The nature reserve is located in Rhondda Cynon Taff, next to Quakers Yard railway station. It is located either side of the Trevithick tram road, and is bounded on one side by the River Taff.
  • LNR Taf Fechan Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Ancient broadleaved woodlands, calcareous grasslands, river, and cliffs. The river has eroded the limestone into a narrow gorge in the centre of the site. A mosaic of deciduous woodland on the slopes with a canopy of Beech, Birch and Ash, gives way to Alder and Grey Willow closer to the river, together with Hawthorn scrub, calcareous grassland, heathland, wet flushes, and tufa formations. The valley is one of the best recorded sites for bryophytes in Glamorgan. The woodland attracts a variety of birds such as Tawny Owl, Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Nuthatch, and Treecreeper, while Dipper and Grey Wagtail are frequently seen, and breed, on the river Taff Fechan.
  • Llwyn-on Reservoir

    InformationSatellite View
    The reservoir, which has been owned and managed by Welsh Water and its predecessor organisation, the Welsh Water Authority, since 1973, is located within the Brecon Beacons National Park with its eastern half in the Merthyr Tydfil unitary authority area and the western half in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The village of Llwyn-On is nearby and the A470 trunk road runs along its eastern shoreline.
  • NNR Cwm Cadlan

    WebpageSatellite View
    Situated just north of Hirwaun in the Brecon Beacons, the site is sandwiched between the Cefn Cadlan ridge to the north, whilst to the south lies Mynydd-y-glog. The whole area is dotted with cairns and ancient settlements. A footpath crosses part of the site, giving walkers a great view of the varied habitat and a chance to take in the atmosphere of this special place.
  • NNR Kenfig

    WebpageSatellite View
    Kenfig is one of the most important sites in Britain for nature conservation. Close to the popular holiday resort of Porthcawl, the area is one of the last remnants of a huge dune system that once stretched along the coast of South Wales from the River Ogmore to the Gower peninsula…
  • NNR Merthyr Mawr Warren

    Facebook PageSatellite View
    The dune system here is like no other in Wales, partly due to the huge area it covers – it extends to 840 acres (the size of 340 international rugby pitches!). Merthyr Mawr is a haven for wildlife. Sand has settled on top of the ancient limestone cliffs creating a special habitat for insects, fungi and plants. There are also grasslands, saltmarsh, beach and woods within the reserve.
Other Links
  • 3 Valleys Birding

    Covering Cynon Valley ( Aberdare & Mountain Ash ), Merthyr Tydfil and the Pontypridd area north west of Cardiff. A blog by M.Bevan, Mark Evans, Martin Bell, Michael Hogan, Phil Hill & Robert Gaze
  • Birders in Boxers

    ...Teresa and myself made our final visit to the caravan on the last day of November staying for three nights in order to close up for the winter...
  • South Wales Birding

    The original and still the best Blog for Birders across South Wales
Photographers & Artists
  • Mic Clark Bird Photography

    Welsh Bird & Wildlife Photographer Mic Clark's photos have been taken on the coast, rivers, lakes and the countryside around Mid, West & South Wales

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