Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It is a maritime county, bordered by the sea on three sides with borders with Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county is home to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only coastal national park of its kind in the United Kingdom. Over the years Pembrokeshire's beaches have been awarded many International Blue Flag Awards, Green Coast Awards and Seaside Awards. In 2011 it had 39 beaches recommended by the Marine Conservation Society. The county's coastline has a number of internationally important seabird breeding sites.
Industry is focussed on agriculture and tourism but historically mining and fishing were important activities. The county has a diverse geography. Pembrokeshire's population is over 120,000 people.
Its wildlife is diverse, with marine, estuary, ancient woodland, moorland and farmland habitats all within the county. It is, in birding terms, mainly known for its coastal features, in particular islands such as Skomer, Skokholm, Grassholm and Ramsay all of which are nature reserves.
In the 'Top Sites' section below are details on the very best birding sites in Pembrokeshire, but there are many other top birding localities in the county such as: Amroth [between Pendine and Saundersfoot] (Scoters galore). Caldey Island [from Tenby] (a few breeding auks & gulls, Choughs, etc.) Milford Haven [waterway] (waders, wildfowl, gulls, terns, etc.) St Annes Head (seawatching; a few breeding auks & gulls, etc.) Newgale/Solva (seawatching; Choughs, etc.) All the coast from St Davids to Strumble Head [Pembrokeshire Coast National Park]: (seawatching; breeding auks, gulls, choughs, etc.) Gwaun Valley [Nr Fishguard] (Western Woodland birds - Pied fly's, etc.) Newport /Nevern Estuary (waders, wildfowl, gulls, etc.) Llys Y Fran Reservoir (wildfowl, gulls, migrant waders, etc.).
Grassholm is eleven miles offshore, an RSPB reserve and one of the largest colonies of Gannets in the world at just over 40,000 pairs, is a spectacular sight, sound and smell experience. No landing is now allowed on the reserve but there are regular boat trips from St Justinians (near St Davids) and from Martins Haven when the weather is suitable for an offshore passage. Its not a cheap trip but can be a fantastic experience often encountering pods of dolphins and, especially if you join an evening trip, large numbers of Manx Shearwaters. You can book through Dale Sailing on 01646 601636 see above websiter or through the official RSPB boat operators on 01437 721721
Martins Haven is fourteen miles west of Haverfordwest (11 miles west of Milford Haven) along B roads which are mostly signposted to Dale from the major towns. The road branches off through Marloes Village just after crossing the small Gann estuary and is signposted "Skomer and Skokholm Embarkation" as well as "Marloes" - please drive carefully through the village. Martins Haven is the boarding point for boats to Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm; all are National Nature Reserves and famous for their seabird colonies. Also at Martins Haven is the Deer Park headland where you will almost certainly find Chough and get good views of the islands, the little valley can be a hot spot for migrant birds at the appropriate times of the year.
This RSPB reserve is accessed via St Justinians three miles west of St Davids but you must buy your tickets at the office in the centre of St Davids. The boats run most days and there is a daily limit of 80 people which means that it is possible to get well away from people quite easily and enjoy the wildlife. There are some nice seabird colonies on the west coast and several thousand Manx Shearwaters breeding but it is the large numbers of Chough (up to a dozen pairs) and Wheatear (over 100 pairs) which make the island quite special together with the abundant grey seals in the autumn when upwards of 600 pups are born on the numerous small beaches. The scrubby areas often harbour migrants and every year a few rarities turn up. Ramsey Island
Skokholm was the first Bird Observatory established in Britain in 1933. It lost its status in 1976, but became one again in 2015. After recent refurbishment work the island has recently been re-accredited so that there is now a daily ringing programme alongside the systematic recording of the birds on the island. There are very large Manx Shearwater colonies here (around 50,000 pairs) and the largest colonies of Storm Petrels in southern Britain - it is almost certainly the easiest place in England and Wales to watch these birds around their colonies and the wardens have some special night vision equipment which can be used to observe the large colony at the Quarry.
There are no Kittiwakes here but large colonies of puffins (the Crab Bay colony is one of the most spectacular in southern Britain) and cliff nesting Guillemot, Razorbill and Fulmar. The island regularly plays host to migrant birds including many rarities over the years and the regular ringing activity ensures that visitors can often see birds at close quarters. Other breeding birds include Chough, Peregrine, Buzzard , Wheatear and Oystercatcher and large colonies of gulls. The wardens supervise some interesting studies which visitors can get involved with.
There are no day visits to Skokholm but you can stay on the island for periods of three, four or more days in the comfortable self catering accommodation - there is a small shop on the island. Boat change over days are Friday and Mondays and leave Martins Haven early in the morning - usually at 0800hrs so visitors have to plan to be at the embarkation point around 0700hrs to get everything onto the jetty and park cars etc. More Information Available Here
Skomer has the largest colony of Manx Shearwaters in the world currently estimated at just over 300,000 pairs. There are also large colonies of Puffins, Guillemot, Razorbills, Kittiwake, Fulmar and all the large gulls and a small number of Storm Petrels. There are also breeding Short-eared owls, Peregrine, Chough and many other species and it is an excellent place for migrant birds and records many rarities every year. You are very unlikely to see Manxies during the day but there are often evening trips around the island when you can connect with some large rafts of these birds as they congregate before going ashore after dark.
Skomer is the most accessible island, open from 1st April to the end of September, and is very popular especially at peak periods from mid May to mid July when it is advisable to arrive at Martins Haven early in order to get a ticket. . No advance booking is possible and there is a daily limit of 250 which is reached most calm days in the peak period. Tickets are now issued at Lockley Lodge which is very near the beach on the mainland and this office usually opens at 0800hrs. The island landing fees (reserve entrance fees) are payable here (credit cards accepted) but the boat charge has to be paid in cash on the boat. There is a special boat just for overnight guests at 0900hrs most days but the day trip boats start at 1000hrs and continue at half hourly intervals until the peak numbers are reached. Off season the boat usually runs at 1000, 1100 and 1200hrs. There are no boats on Mondays except on bank holidays when the island is open. There are no catering facilities for day visitors on Skomer so it is essential to arrive with enough food and drink for the day - the first boat back to the mainland is at 1500hrs. More information at: http://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-day-trip-2/ and at the boat web site - http://www.pembrokeshire-islands.co.uk/
You can stay on Skomer for one or more nights in the self catering accommodation and experience the amazing sights and sound of the huge colonies of shearwaters and get up close to the other seabirds. The birding is often much better early in the morning than later in the day and having the overnight experience is worth the effort - just contact the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales More Information Available Here
Stack Rocks and Pen-y-Holt (Elegug Stacks)
South of Pembroke Town on the B4319/4320 the access to the cliffs opposite the spectacular seabird colonies at Stack Rocks is open at weekends only except for the month of August when there is no firing on this MOD live firing range. Its a place to visit during the seabird breeding season May to late July in particular but many people visit just to look at the superb cliff scenery. The spring flowers can be stunning and there are usually Chough and Stonechat around. The nearby Bosheston Pools and Stackpole Head NNR is also worth a visit at any time of the year for ducks, heathland and woodland birds.
Strumble Head is three miles N W of Fishguard, via Goodwick. Probably Wales' best Seawatch site: Optimum conditions - strong south westerlies when the wind turns west or northqwest which brings birds closer to shore. Vast numbers of Manx's, Storm Petrels, Gannets, etc. All four Skuas seen annually; Great, Cory's, Sooty and Med. Sheerwaters regular; also, Leach's Petrel [and, of course, one of Britain's few land-observed Wilson's Petrels was sighted at Strumble].
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 377
The Pembrokeshire Bird List
This checklist is correct to the end of 2015 when one new species was added -
Cedar Waxwing – also new for Wales. The total now stands at 377 and aims
to be the definitive list of all the bird species recorded in Pembrokeshire. It
will be updated at least annually to reflect new species and changes in
distribution and occurrence. Species names and order follow the British
Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) British List as of January 2014.
Birding in Pembrokeshire
by Jonathan Green and Owen Roberts | Welsh Ornithological Society | 2005 | Paperback | 240 pages, Figures, diagrams, b & w photos
ISBN: 095421451XBuy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Pembrokeshire
by J Donovan and G Rees | Dyfed Wildlife Trust | 1994 | Hardback | 184 pages, Line illus, 98 maps, 24 figs
ISBN: 0902794027Buy this book from NHBS.com
Pembrokeshire Bird Group
We have recently set up a website in the form of a blog for the Pembrokeshire Bird Group. It has info about the group, birding sites in Pembrokeshire and links to bird sightings in Pembrokeshire, etc…
The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is one of 47 Wildlife Trusts across the UK. We are the fourth largest in area, covering from Cardiff and Caerphilly in the east to Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire in the west, and include 3 of the West Wales islands amongst our 90 or so nature reserves - Nature Centre, Parc Slip, Fountain Road, Tondu, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan CF32 0EH…
Welsh Ornithological Society
Bird-recording in Wales is based largely on the Watsonian vice-county system. The boundaries of Pembrokeshire VC45 are very similar to those of Pembrokeshire unitary authority.
NNR Pengelli Forest
Pengelli Forest is part of the largest block of ancient Oak woodland in west Wales. The woodland can be broadly divided into two sections. Adjacent to the entrance is Pant-Teg Wood, the steep slopes supporting woodland dominated by Sessile Oak and Birch regrown from clear-felling during 1914-1930. Dense canopy shade has inhibited the understorey growth of Hazel and Holly. The ground flora is characteristic of acid Sessile Oak woodland with Wavy Hair-grass, Common Cow Wheat and Bilberry, with numerous moss species. Three trees of the native Wild Crab Apple are present and valley bottoms support Alder and Willow. The range of birds is typical of such a woodland with species including Redstart, Wood Warbler, Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Tawny Owl and Sparrowhawk with Woodcock visiting in winter. These species were augmented in the 1980s by the Pied Flycatcher, which used nestboxes erected by the WTSWW.
NNR Skokholm Island
In spring and summer it is colonised by tens of thousands of nesting seabirds returning to their island home. By day there is frenetic activity among the Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots and gulls and by night there is a more vocal but equally hectic commotion from the Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels.
NNR Skomer Island
Located less than a mile off the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, Skomer is truly a wonderful place to visit for the day or stay overnight. Well known for its Puffins, yet there is so much more to the bird paradise including Manx Shearwaters, Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises, Atlantic Grey Seal, Razorbills, Gannets, Fulmars and the unique Skomer Vole. The island is surrounded by some of the richest waters for wildlife off the British Isles from delightfully coloured sea slugs to magnificent cetaceans.
NP Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Although many of us associate Pembrokeshire with the puffin, for birdwatchers it is more significant because of its population of rare birds, such as the chough.
NTSWW Teifi Marshes at Welsh Wildlife Centre
On the river (Afon Teifi) in Pembrokeshire the huge Teifi Marshes reserve at Cilgerran extends over some 100 hectares. here are a wide range of habitats, hence the diversity of wildlife, from pasture and wooded hedgerows to freshwater marsh and reedbeds to tidal mudbanks. Asian Water Buffalo are great grazers - their horns help to break up unwanted scrub with the result that they keep the marshland as fen and swamp. The Teifi reserve is also home to a large number of birds such as Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Cetti's Warblers, Kingfishers and even Red Kites.
The island comes alive in early spring, with gannets returning to the island from late February onwards. The air is filled with males returning with nesting materials keen to establish territory ready to attract a female. A single egg is laid in April and chicks begin to hatch in early June. The chicks are then fed by both parents for 90 days until they are fully grown and ready to leave the island in late August and throughout September.
RSPB Ramsey Island
This dramatic offshore island has cliffs that rise up to 120 metres, making them the perfect place for breeding seabirds, flocks of choughs and peregrines. Take a walk along the coastal heathland and enjoy the wildlife, taking in the spectacular views across the Irish Sea. Read more at https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/ramsey-island#w18frXAbRLxoxuxz.99
WTSWW Cemaes Head
Cemaes Head is the most northerly of the many fine headlands on the Pembrokeshire coast and overlooks the broad sweep of the mouth of the Teifi estuary towards the Trust’s Cardigan Island Nature Reserve. There are extensive areas of close-cropped sward on the west side of the Head formed through Pony grazing, which is an advantage to the small Chough population, consisting of one breeding pair on the reserve and one other just outside the boundary, although the site is used by many others for foraging. Small numbers of Herring Gulls, Fulmars and Shags breed, together with a colony of Cormorants. Other species of note include Peregrines, Kestrel, Raven, Wheatear, Stonechat and Skylarks, which breed on the reserve.
WTSWW Dowrog Common
An extensive tract of wet and dry heath with pools and fen, in the upper reaches of the River Alun. Wintering wildfowl and birds of prey proliferate on the Common. Hen Harrier roost on site, and Short-eared Owl and Merlin are regular winter visitors. Whooper Swans, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and Mallard can be seen in winter along with Snipe, Water Rail, Coot and Moorhen, particulary around Dowrog Pool. The wetland areas also support breeding Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting and Sedge Warbler. Otters regularly visit the site and Water Shrews have also been recorded.
WTSWW Goodwick Moor
Reed bed, flood plain mire, carr, scrub, and a complex network of ditches. The reed bed and fringe support Sedge and Reed Warblers, whilst the low scrub and carr wood support Stonechats and Willow Warblers. Swallows roost and Snipe and Siskins overwinter here. Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk are also present. Cetti’s Warbler and Bittern have also been recorded as winter visitors. However, it has been closed to the public and the broad walk has been taken up by the Wildlife Trust. So, it can only be observed from footpaths around the outside, Currently (Feb 2018) it is very over grown and greatly in need of management.
WTSWW Llanerch Alder Carr
The reserve is situated at the eastern end of the Gwaun Valley, south of Llanerch Farm. This Alder carr remnant has developed over the deep, poorly drained peaty soils of the valley floor and is a good example of a once much more widespread woodland type, that existed on poorly drained sites. Birds present on site include Great, Blue, Coal, Marsh and Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrests, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Treecreeper, with Pied Flycatchers also nesting. These species are augmented in winter by visiting Water Rail and Woodcock.
WTSWW Llangloffan Fen
The reserve comprises the western end of one of the largest remaining floodplains or valley mires in Wales, supporting tall fen, fen meadow, wet heath and carr communities and associated species. An area of semi-improved pasture is also part of the reserve. The ornithological interest is greater in the eastern section of the NNR where Corncrake, Quail and Spotted Crake have all been recorded within the past 5 years. The development of dense rank growth dominated by Nettles along the southern bank of the river in the Trust reserve may offer suitable habitat for Corncrake, and Grasshopper Warblers are amongst the breeding species currently to be found. Barn Owls and Hen Harriers have been recorded hunting over the reserve.
WTSWW Pembroke Upper Mill Pond
Pond with developing reed bed, fen and carr, adjoining woodland. Birds are varied due to the change in habitats across the site. On the water can be seen Little Grebe, Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen, Cormorant, Teal, Coot, Kingfisher and Tufted Duck. Lately Pochard are rarely seen as is the case in much of the county. Treecreepers, Willow Warbler, and several Tits are among the woodland birds.
WTSWW St Margaret’s Island
Island situated near Tenby, off the western tip of Caldey Island. Access restricted and landings are difficult. Contact the Wildlife Trust Officer for Pembrokeshire for more information. Access across to the island via the boulder beach at low tide from Caldey is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted. The seabird colonies are mainly confined to the northern and western cliffs, with strong colonies of Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake. The principal nesting species is the Cormorant, this being one of the largest in England and Wales. A few pairs of Puffins breed in rock fissures, but Brown Rats are known to be on the island which precludes the spread of any colonies. Shag also breed, as well as Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull.
WTSWW West Williamston
Tidal creeks and saltmarsh, limestone rock outcrops and spoil heaps with woodland. Large numbers of waders and wildfowl frequent the site, including Curlew, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Mute Swan, Cormorant and Oystercatcher. Further species present in the woodland include Tawny Owl and Wren.
WTSWW Westfield Pill
The habitat consists of fairly open old railway line, complete with its original limestone ballast, with an Oak woodland edge, scrubby meadow and a lagoon. The lake which is partly tidal has an area of reedbed at the northern end and muddy margins to the south, with man-made islands. Over half of the Pembrokeshire population of Little Grebe overwinter on the site with Goldeneye. Other birds to be found include Kingfisher and Shelduck, with Swans and passerines in summer, augmented by waders such as the Redshank.
Forums & Mailing Lists
Pembrokeshire Birds is the internet service for birders in Pembrokeshire to share sightings.
Guides & Tour Operators
West Coast Birdwatching
Welcome to West Coast Birdwatching. We offer custom made birdwatching trips throughout Pembrokeshire, including half days, full days and more. We provide one-to-one, small or large group tours to suit your needs and your budget. We have over 29 years experience of finding and watching birds in Pembrokeshire and further afield.
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
Broad Haven - Hafan Bilidowcar Self-catering
Puffin Way, Broad Haven, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire SA62 3HP Luxury Self Catering Holiday Accommodation in West Wales
Broad Haven - Keens Cottage at Timber Hill
Welcome to KeensCottage, our self-catering holiday home at Timber Hill, which is situated near Broad Haven in Pembrokeshire and stands within the boundaries of the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Broad Haven - Timber Hill Holiday Cottage
You'll find Timber Hill in a beautiful setting near to the popular resort of Broad Haven on West Wales' Atlantic coast. The detached cedar wood lodges are attractively placed on the southern facing slopes adjoining the farmhouse, with views over the peaceful hills and valley. Set within 130 acres of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Timber Hill has been designed by the family who own and run it to cater for those who wish to enjoy the tranquil surroundings in this, one of the most beautiful counties in Wales. It is an ideal centre for exploring the whole of Pembrokeshire.
Cnapan Guest House
North Pembrokeshire is a fantastic location for bird watching and Cnapan is an excellent base from which to explore the various locations. With the river Nevern and it's estuary just five minutes walk away and several other superb sites accessible by public transport, it is truly a bird watchers paradise.
St Brides Bay Cottages
All the cottages are situated within easy reach of the spectacular sweep of St. Bride's Bay, with its beautiful sandy beaches, magnificent coast path and nearby island bird sanctuaries.
Mike Young-Powell - Mike's Bird Notes
Diary and comment of a North Pembs birder - I'm a mad keen birdwatcher and new blogger living at Sealyham in North Pembrokeshirer and birding principally at St Davids Head and Heathfield Gravel Pits. I previously lived in Cley, North Norfolk, birding mainly at Sheringham, bizarrely and before that lived in London, doing quite a lot of, very necessary, twitching.
…the only site on the web specifically for recording bird sightings in Pembrokeshire… run by Richard Crossen
Strumble Head Seawatcing
Photographers & Artists
Richard Crossen Photography
Welcome to my website. I live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales , a wonderful place to photograph birds, cetaceans and landscapes. The slideshow above contains recent photos. Click on the Galleries link to see the full collection