Gwynedd

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus ©Nigel Blake Website

Birding Gwynedd

Gwynedd is an area in north-west Wales, named after the old Kingdom of Gwynedd. As a local government area, it is the second biggest in terms of geographical area and also one of the most sparsely populated. Most of the population is Welsh-speaking. (The name Gwynedd is also used for a preserved county, covering the two local government areas of Gwynedd and the Isle of Anglesey. Culturally and historically, the name can also be used for most of North Wales the area covered by the Gwynedd Constabulary, corresponding to the approximate territory of the Kingdom of Gwynedd at its greatest extent.) Gwynedd borders the counties of Conwy, Anglesey over the Menai Strait, Powys, and Ceredigion over the River Dyfi. The current area is 980+ square miles, (slightly smaller than Luxembourg) with a population (2011) of over 120,000. The largest settlements are Bangor, Caernarfon, Bethesda and Ffestiniog. The largest settlement in the south is Tywyn. It encompasses the former counties of Caernarfon and Meirionnydd, which are still used as bird recording areas. Gwynedd includes the scenic Llŷn Peninsula, and most of Snowdonia National Park. Gwynedd Local Nature Reserves spread across 1700 hectares of land, which protects important habitats and species. Most of Gwynedd is mountainous, with a number of peaks over 1,000 metres high, and only a narrow strip of coastal plain in the north of the county. There is lower, but still hilly, ground on the Llyn peninsula to the 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. Bardsey Island at the tip of the Llyn peninsula has a bird observatory that welcomes visitors and is a site where almost anything could turn up. Buzzard and Raven are both present in large numbers and can be seen almost anywhere.

Top Sites
  • Bardsey Island

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Buzzard, Raven, and almost anything else can turn up.
  • Lafan Sands

    InformationSatellite View
    Wildfowl & Waders - The area has a range of exposures and a diversity of conditions, enhanced by freshwater streams that flow across the flats. The site is of importance for wintering waterbirds, especially Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus. In conditions of severe winter weather, Traeth Lafan acts as a refuge area for Oystercatchers displaced from the nearby Dee Estuary.
Contributors
  • Rhion Pritchard

    Pant Afonig, Hafod Lane, Bangor, Gwynedd. LL57 4BU | rhion678pritchard@gmail.com

County Recorder
Useful Reading

  • Best Birdwatching Sites in North Wales

    by Alan Davies & Owen Roberts | Buckingham Press | 2015 | Paperback | 192 Pages ISBN: 9780955033940 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • 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 NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • County Bird

    There is no official county bird - however the Cambrian Ornithological Society have a Peregrine Falco peregrinus as a logo and the Bangor Bird Group have a Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Observatories
  • Bardsey Bird Observatory

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    Bardsey Bird & Field Observatory is one of only two accredited bird observatories in Wales and is one of a network of 20 around the coast of the UK and Ireland. Founded in 1953, the Observatory has been monitoring the island's birds and wildlife ever since. The Observatory is based in the old farmhouse at Cristin (built by Lord Newborough in 1874). There is accommodation for up to 12 guests from Saturday to Saturday. Everyone is welcome, birder or not! The whole observatory can be booked for group visits.
Organisations
  • Cambrian Ornithological Society - Cymdeithas Adarydda Cambria

    Facebook Page
    The COS is for all birdwatchers with an interest in the north-west Wales area; the new counties of Anglesey, Gwynedd and the western part of Conwy.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • Accessible Reserves

    WebpageSatellite View
    Each of the following links lead to a BFA assessment of the reserve by BFA members and others, using the BFA form. ALL types of mobility problem are assumed so there are details of path surfaces, gradients and distances as well as benches and hide details.
  • BBFO Bardsey Island Bird & Field Observatory

    InformationSatellite View
    Bardsey Bird & Field Observatory is one of only two accredited bird observatories in Wales and is one of a network of 20 around the coast of the UK and Ireland. Founded in 1953, the Observatory has been monitoring the island's birds and wildlife ever since.
  • Gwynedd Local Nature Reserves

    WebpageSatellite View
    Annotated list of reserves - Gwynedd Nature Reserves spread across 1700 hectares of land, which protects important habitats and species. All these sites are managed in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, RSPB Cymru, a number of town or community councils and other community groups.
  • NNR Morfa Harlech

    WebpageSatellite View
    A coastal landscape with a vast dune system of international importance. The sand flats and salt marsh in the estuary are important feeding grounds for winter wildfowl while otters and water voles use the estuary’s waterways.
  • NP Snowdonia

    InformationSatellite View
    Snowdonia is a mountainous region in north west Wales and a national park covering 823 square miles. The English name for the area derives from Snowdon, which is the highest mountain in Wales at 3560 feet. The park is governed by the Snowdonia National Park Authority, which is made up of local government and Welsh representatives.
  • NRW Coed y Brenin (King's Forest)

    InformationSatellite View
    Black Grouse may be spotted on the forest fringes where the moor meets the trees.The males are easy to recognise with their distinctive black feathers and lyre shaped tail in flight. The females, however, are less easy to distinguish from Red Grouse which also inhabit the forest edges. Large and small raptors can be spotted all over the forest. Buzzards soar high above the valleys; Goshawks (known as the phantom of the forest) are more secretive and are extremely difficult to spot as they glide through tall mature trees and into thick undergrowth to catch their prey. Red Kites are also becoming more common as they distribute themselves north of their range. They are the easiest big raptor to spot with their large forked red tail. Peregrines are also present but not common. If you are really lucky you may spot a Merlin but you have to be quick…
  • NWWT Spinnies - Aberogwen

    WebpageSatellite View
    Spinnies Nature Reserve is very close to Bangor, and is situated on the edge of the Menai Strait at mouth of the River Ogwen. This nature reserve, along with Traeth Lafan which is connected to it, and Morfa Madryn and Morfa Aber, all three of which are managed by Gwynedd County Council, is one of the top locations in Wales to see wildfowl and waders.
  • NWWT Traeth Glaslyn

    WebpageSatellite View
    A good place to see estuarine birds throughout the year with a range of habitats from open water to woodland. A large estuarine site to the east of Porthmadog, part of the Glaslyn Marshes SSSI. It is especially interesting because it provides a good example of seral succession - the habitat changes from brackish open water, through mudflats, marshes and wet grassland to damp alder carr. Excellent views of estuarine birds can be had throughout the year, particularly good for winter wildfowl.
  • RSPB Mawddach Valley - Coed Garth Gell

    WebpageSatellite View
    Nestled in the spectacular Mawddach Valley, Coed Garth Gell is a woodland and heathland nature reserve which is internationally important for the rare mosses, liverworts and lichens which grow amongst the ancient oaks. Pied flycatchers, redstarts, wood warblers and lesser horseshoe bats all call this wonderful place home.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • North Wales Birding Forum

Guides & Tour Operators


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

  • Birds of Snowdonia

    Tour Operator
    Immerse yourself in the most beautiful scenery the British Isles has to offer. Welcome to Snowdonia, land of myths and legends, with the National Park covering over 800 square miles. Where else can you find beautiful valleys, snow capped mountains, stunning lakes and rivers, not to mention the unrivalled beaches?
  • Shearwater Coastal Cruises - Pelagics

    Tour Operator
    Shearwater is a large, stable luxury charter boat conducting seabird watching tours along the beautiful coast of the Lleyn Peninsula, from Pwllheli…
Places to Stay


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

  • Minffordd Hotel - Talyllyn Tywyn

    Accommodation
    Visit the many local bird sanctuaries and see the rare Red Kite…
  • The Sandpiper Guesthouse - Barmouth

    Accommodation
    The Sandpiper is situated on the seafront at Barmouth with sea views and free parking.
  • Wern Fawr Manor Farm

    Accommodation
    Exceptional self-catering cottages and B&B offered in the heart of the Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales. We have buzzards, barn owls and numerous others.
Other Links
  • Bio-diversity in Gwynedd

    Website
    It is difficult to associate Gwynedd with one particular type of landscape as it contains a varied range of habitats. On the Lleyn Peninsula we have wonderful views of the coast, dramatic rocky cliffs leading down to beautiful beaches and sand dune systems. The landscape of this area has been forged from a system of open rough grazing, white farmhouses, and hedges which line the narrow little lanes around the Lleyn…
  • Shell Island

    Webpage
    Based in North Wales and boasting stunning views of the unspoilt Welsh countryside, including Cardigan Bay and the Snowdonia National Park, Shell Island is one of Europe’s largest Campsites. Although there are many birds to be seen in the Summer, the Winter brings in the wintering wild fowl. Ducks, Geese, Grebes, Cormorants, Herons, Lapwings, Oyster Catchers, Redshanks, Plovers, Snipes, Curlews, to name but a few, can all be found here.
Blogs
  • Rich & Giselle - Lighthouse Journal

    Blog
    Not updated since 2013 - Rich is the Assistant Warden at Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory. He has lived on remote Welsh Islands for the past six years. He's spot on with all things avian; a brilliant birder, fantastic ringer and a patient photographer. He's my boyfriend and I share his way of life with him….
  • Zac Hinchcliffe - Zac Hinchcliffe's Birding Blog

    BLOG
    I love birds and all wildlife. Here are some of my trips and my attempt at pretending to know what I'm talking about.

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