County of Radnorshire

Red Kites Milvus milvus ©John Buckingham

Vice County No: 43

Radnorshire (Sir Faesyfed) is one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales and a former administrative county. It covers a sparsely populated area in mid Wales. The historic county is bounded to the north by Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, to the east by Herefordshire, to the south by Brecknockshire and to the west by Cardiganshire. Radnorshire District Council was abolished in 1996 when Powys became a unitary authority and the vice-county forms the middle third of Powys. The largest town in Radnorshire is Llandrindod Wells, with other towns being Knighton, Presteigne, and Rhayader.

The habitat of the county is varied, with smooth, rolling hills, open moorland, steep sided valleys and hedgerow-enclosed pastures with small rivers and streams and ancient woodlands. In the east and south are some comparatively level tracts, including the Vale of Radnor, but much of the county is forest, moorland and low mountains, with the Cambrian Mountains running through the west of the county beyond Rhayader. The Radnor Forest is an area of high ground covering a large part of the east of the area near the village of New Radnor, and includes the highest ground in the county. Here is found the county top of Great Rhos, at a height of 660 metres (2,170 ft) above sea level. The Elan Valley contains several huge man-made reservoirs supplying water to Birmingham. The main rivers are the Wye, the Teme, the Elan and the Ithon. The Teme forms the boundary with Shropshire.

Birding Radnorshire

The Radnorshire Wildlife Trust manages 17 nature reserves across the county.

It has done better than many intensively farmed areas in retaining some species which are threatened or in decline in other areas, although many tend to reflect national trends. These include Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Lapwing, Golden Plover and Curlew. (Turtle Dove is now sadly extinct in Wales as a breeding bird). Of the 112 or so regular breeding birds in Radnorshire, 35 species are increasing since the start of the century, 42 declining and 35 stable.

County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 258

Useful Reading

  • Where to watch birds in Wales | By David Saunders & Jon Green | Helm | 2008 | Paperback |

    ISBN: 9780713674842 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • The Birds of Radnorshire

    The county Recorder has a few copies available for £15 inc P&P.
  • The State of Radnorshire Wildlife

    PDF Report
  • Radnorshire Wildlife Trust

    Radnorshire Wildlife Trust is one of 46 Wildlife Trusts working across the UK and one of 5 within Wales. With the invaluable support of volunteers and members, we manage 18 nature reserves in Radnorshire. We also work with other landowners and organisations to protect and connect wildlife sites across the county and inspire local communities and young people where they live.

Abbreviations Key

  • LNR Abercamlo Bog

    WebpageSatellite View
    A fascinating nature reserve made up of wet heath pasture surrounded by birch woodland, scrub and tussocky grassland with three small basin mires.
  • LNR Bailey Einon

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    There are over forty breeding bird species in this ancient woodland, including pied flycatcher and redstart. Dippers are often found along the river as are grey wagtail with dragonflies and damselflies flitting along the river edge in the summer.
  • LNR Burfa Bog

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    The coppiced alder make excellent conditions for a number of warblers like the willow warbler, blackcap and chiffchaff. The denser areas provide shelter for marsh tit and the increasingly scarce willow tit. There is a no dogs rule here to help the ground nesting birds survive.
  • LNR Cefn Cenarth

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    There's a lovely mix of birds including the chiffchaff, treecreeper, mistle thrush, pied flycatcher, blackbird, jay and redstart.
  • LNR Cnwch Bank

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    Breeding birds include meadow pipit, stonechat, merlin, red grouse, linnet, peregrine falcon and raven.
  • LNR Cwm Byddo

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    The scrub on the motte is an important habitat for birds, including yellowhammer, blackcap and garden warbler in the summer. The nuthatch, great-spotted woodpecker and pied flycatcher can all be found in the woodland.
  • LNR Fronwen Wood

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    A newly acquired reserve, this beautiful semi-natural ancient woodland is being assessed and monitored and is not currently open to the general public.
  • LNR Gilfach

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    Gilfach is a special place, well known for its pied flycatchers, dippers, redstarts and leaping salmon with the River Marteg running through. The variety of wildlife to be found here is what makes Gilfach different.
  • LNR Gorse Farm

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    Over seventy species of aquatic insects have been recorded at this little reserve, most notably the water beetle Cerycon ustulatus. A huge variety of mini-beasts include pond skaters, water ladybirds, damselflies, leaf beetle and marsh beetle to name a few. The rare and legally protected great crested newt hunts amongst the tussocks.
  • LNR Llanbwchllyn Lake

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    This large natural lake is edged with reed bed lush fen vegetation that gives cover to breeding reed warbler and great crested grebe. It welcomes overwintering wildfowl including goosander, teal, tufted duck, pochard and goldeneye. Coot and water rail use the reeds as refuge throughout the year.
  • LNR Mynydd Ffoesidoes

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    Boggy pools are dimpled across the nature reserve and are home to a range of water beetles and other mini-beasts that can tolerate the acidic, peaty water. Over forty species of beetle have been recorded, including the ground beetle and the heather weevil. The hen harrier can sometimes be seen gliding across the heather moorland along with other birds of prey.
  • LNR Pentrosfa Mire

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    In the winter, the mire is an important roost site for large numbers of snipe, jack snipe and pied wagtail. Widgeon, teal and other water birds find the open water attractive and water rail love to hide in the tall vegatation around the edge of the water. Bird species include bullfinch, skylark, linnet, reed bunting and song thrush, with red kite, buzzard and raven on occassion.
  • LNR Pentwyn

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    Pentwyn, has long been managed as a livestock farm. Radnorshire Wildlife Trust intend to transform it into a haven for wildlife.
  • LNR Rhayader Tunnel

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    Wildlflowers such as betony, harebell, wood bitter-vetch and broad-leaved helleborine thrive on the sunny east-facing slopes with the old railway tunnel providing a home to several species of hibernating bat. A walk along this reserve offers some stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the whistle of the red kite is often heard overhead. Other birdlife includes chaffinch, brambling, goldfinch and linnet.
  • LNR Sideland

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    Woodland birds include pied flycatcher, treecreeper, redstart, marsh tit, willow warbler and bullfinch. Both green and great-spotted woodpeckers breed here with butterflies visiting in the sunnier months.
  • LNR Tylcau Hill (Floss Brand)

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    The small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly loves the wetter fields, swooping close to the ground, while in late spring the green hairstreak butterfly perches with its wings closed on the hawthorn twigs. If you want to hear the cuckoo, then a visit in spring is a must!
  • LNR Werndryd

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    Hedgerow birds love the scrub and the great tit, dunnock, wren, blue tit and blackbird are all regular visitors. Common snipe and reed bunting have occassionally been recorded with the tawny and barn owl heard regularly by the villagers.
  • LNR Withybeds

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    There's a fine show of spring flowers including marsh marigold and wood anemone. Along the river, grey wagtail and dipper search for insects and a high pitched 'peeping' sound may reveal a streak of turquoise as a kingfisher flies past. In late spring and early summer, the wood is full of bird song as spotted flycatcher, redstart, willow tit, bullfinch, blackcap and other birds come here to breed. Nuthatch, treecreeper and woodpeckers can be seen and heard all year.
  • NNR Cors y Llyn National Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    The particular terrain found in the Reserve, which consists of two 'basins', was carved out of the underlying rock by glacial activity during the last Ice Age. As the glaciation came to an end around 12,000 years ago, the ice retreated; in doing so it ground out hollows that filled up with water and were then colonised by emergent plants. There are two such basins at Cors y Llyn, separated by a ridge of peat, and each has quite different biological qualities.
  • RSPB Carngafallt Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Step under the canopy of the rainforest and enjoy the dappled sunshine and quiet calm of ancient woodland, muffled by mosses and lichens.

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