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.
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.
Caernarfon County Recorder
Pant Afonig, Hafod Lane, Bangor, Gwynedd. LL57 4BU
Best Birdwatching Sites in North Wales
by Alan Davies & Owen Roberts | Buckingham Press | 2015 | Paperback | 192 Pages
ISBN: 9780955033940Buy 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: 9781846318580Buy this book from NHBS.com
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
Cambrian Ornithological Society - Cymdeithas Adarydda Cambria
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.
Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)
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
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
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
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.
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)
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
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
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
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
Birds of Snowdonia
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
Shearwater is a large, stable luxury charter boat conducting seabird watching tours along the beautiful coast of the Lleyn Peninsula, from Pwllheli…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
Places to Stay
Minffordd Hotel - Talyllyn Tywyn
Visit the many local bird sanctuaries and see the rare Red Kite…
The Sandpiper Guesthouse - Barmouth
The Sandpiper is situated on the seafront at Barmouth with sea views and free parking.
Wern Fawr Manor Farm
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.
Bardsey Bird Observatory
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.
Rich & Giselle - Lighthouse Journal
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
I love birds and all wildlife. Here are some of my trips and my attempt at pretending to know what I'm talking about.
Bio-diversity in Gwynedd
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…
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.