A holiday cottage in West Wales is the perfect base for birdwatching holidays. Wherever you may be, there are opportunities for spotting some exciting birds. The geological diversity and variety of habitats of West Wales allow many species of birds to find a niche here: you’re rarely far from the coast or an estuary and, inland, the sparsely populated countryside provides an ideal home for a number of bird species.
Many birds make their permanent home in Wales, but others only make an appearance as summer or winter visitors. Summer visitors start arriving as early as March. Winter visitors include many wading birds and ducks which fly south from their breeding grounds. Our estuaries are teeming with them in the colder months, so your out-of-season break can hold a special allure.
West Wales specials
A successful project has recently reintroduced a large bird of prey, the Red Kite, which has now become a familiar sight in many areas – soaring overhead displaying its distinctive plumage and forked tail. Another bird of prey which is particularly prevalent here is the Buzzard: sitting atop a telegraph pole or fence post, it will draw gasps of admiration from all who spot it from the car window.
On the coast and estuaries, you’ll spot many a Cormorant, Curlew and Herring Gull as well as the marvellous Oystercatcher with its bold black and white feathers setting off the bright orange of its bill and legs. The Canada Goose increases in numbers each year and is particularly fond of the Teifi, Nevern and Dyfi Estuaries. Grey Herons and Kingfishers are fond of slow-moving rivers or lakes and ponds and there are plenty of chances to spot them if you’re quiet and alert.
A trip to the offshore islands of Pembrokeshire will reveal colonies of birds which favour a life at sea, including Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets and the delightful Puffin with its striped bill and clumsy gait.
If you’re walking chunks of the Coastal Path, you’ll see Rock Pipits, Wheatears, Stonechats and Linnets as well as Choughs circling near the cliffs.
Birds to See In West Wales
We have compiled a list of the birds you are most likely to spot during your holiday in West Wales with brief details to help you identify them.
Godwits similar to curlew (53cm) but much smaller. In winter grey-brown with brighter rusty chest and streaks on back. Bill slightly upcurved, pink/orange at base with dark tip. Legs: dark and shorter than black-tailed godwit. Tail: pale brown and white. In flight, brown wings and white on rump makes V on back.
Size: 37cmWhere: Sea coast
In SUMMER it is grey and white with black head, but at other times will have just a couple of grey streaks across otherwise white head. It is dainty and has small red bill.
Size: 35-38cmWhere: Sea coast
Tall, stands upright, striking in flight and colourful in spring. Winter plumage plain: grey upper side and pale underparts. In Flight: white band along wing and white patch above black tail; long black legs trail behind. Bill: long, pale orange at base, then dark. Less streaky than Bar-Tailed in winter.
Size: 40cmWhere: Sea coast
Sylvia genus. They sometimes stay all winter. Like woods and thickets but also come to gardens. Male: black cap, grey head and brownish grey body. Stumpy flat-ended tail. Lovely song like warbler.
Size: 14cmWhere: Inland
Yellow breast, White head encircled by black line, turning blue on crown. Black eye stripe. Greenish back and blue wing and tail.
Size: 12cmWhere: Inland
Fringilla family same as Chaffinch and often hangs out with them. Orange, black and grey plumage. Rosy breast. Flocks in beech woods in winter. Hops and rustles around under trees. Sometimes bird tables in very cold spells.
Size: 15cmWhere: Inland
A large bird sitting on a fence or telegraph post is usually a buzzard; not a golden eagle. Flies with stiff wing beats, then glides. They eat carrion from roads but also small live prey. Streaky brown with paler breast and very dark wing tips with spread ‘fingers’ in flight.
Size: 55cmWhere: Inland, Island
Brown speckled body, black neck ending abruptly. Very distinctive white cheek patch. In autumn, see them fly across Teifi Estuary at dawn and dusk in gaggling formations which are lovely to behold.
Size: 100cmWhere: Sea coast, Fresh water
Fringilla family. It’s the most common finch. Male: in spring has grey crown and pale pinky orange face and breast. Duller in winter. In flight: balck and white wing bars and white sides on tail. Females are dull but with same wing pattern.
Size: 15cmWhere: Inland
Arrives March and sits around on edges of woods or in thickets saying ‘chiff-chaff’. Greenish buff all over with paler underparts. Can appear grey. Legs very dark.
Size: 10cmWhere: Inland
Crow family but more attractive. Slim bird with striking slim, curved, orange beak. Legs orange. It uses upcurrents near cliffs to soar and dive around. In flight: feathers end of wing spread and curled upwards like fingers
Size: 40cmWhere: Sea coast, Island
Has black head, white cheek, white patch on back of neck and 2 rows of white spots across wings. Otherwise similar to Marsh and Coal Tits. Very agile. Takes whole nut from feeder and buries it or eats it alone.