Birdwatching in Snowdonia

snowdonia is ideal for bird watching
© Delweddau Algieri Images

The rich diversity of habitats in Snowdonia attracts many species of bird to the area. Habitats include upland bog such as the Migneint (the largest expanse of blanket bog in Wales), rocky crags, coniferous woodland, sheltered ancient woodland, river estuaries, and coastline. Snowdonia is ideal for those with an interest in birdwatching.

There are reserves at:

  • Conwy (RSPB)
  • Traeth Lavan
  • Coedydd Aber (NNR)
  • Foryd Bay
  • Maentwrog (NNR)
  • Lake Vyrnwy (RSPB)
  • Mawddach Valley (RSPB)
  • Ynys-hir (RSPB)
birdwatching locations in snowdonia

Iolo Williams' favourite birdwatching locations in Snowdonia

Iolo Williams was formerly the Species Officer for Wales for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), was the subject of the BBC series 'Birdman', and now presents the S4C digital program 'Byd Natur'. Below are some of his favourite birdwatching locations in Snowdonia (extract from 'Bird Watching in North Wales').

1. The Aber Valley, near Bangor. A beautiful valley enclosed by the mountains of Snowdonia, it is a good site to see woodland birds such as the pied flycatcher, the redstart and the wood warbler, as well as mountain birds such as ravens, buzzards and choughs. At times it is possible to spot other birds of prey here such as the sparrowhawk, the kestrel and the peregrine falcon.
Best time - April to August.

2. Porthmadog. The cob is famous for its birds such as wigeons, curlews, and the rare grebe. At times the merlin can be seen hunting here in the Winter and a flock of whooper swans overwinters nearby.
Best time - Winter.

porthmadog cob for birdwatching
The Cob - Porthmadog

3. The Migneint, on the back road between Ysbyty Ifan and Ffestiniog. This moorland has lost many of its special birds but you can see the red grouse, the wheatear and the skylark on the high ground. Some pairs of curlews and snipes still nest here, and if you're lucky you may see the short-eared owl at dusk.

4. Aberdysynni near Tywyn. An excellent site for watching sea-birds such as the red-throated diver, the eider duck and the common scoter, and on the nearby Broadwater the bar-tailed godwit and the little grebe can often be seen.

5. Ynys-hir near Machynlleth. Once again, this is a RSPB reserve, and it is teeming with birds throughout the year. In the Summer, visitors such as the pied flycatcher and the redstart join the lesser spotted woodpecker in the woods, and in the Winter white-fronted geese flock to the estuary. Also at this time, birds of prey such as the hen harrier and red kite can be seen hunting over the estuary.

Extract above is © Iolo Williams & PJ WebWorks

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