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Summer in West Wales really starts in late March and ends mid October as far as visitors from Africa are concerned. Amongst the little birds classified as inland summer birds, the Wheatear is one of the first to arrive and the last to leave. The various warblers, Redstart and Whinchat are amongst others which make the long journey to breed here. Swallows, Swifts, House Martins and Sand Martins are amongst the swooping, aerodynamic visitors associated with the arrival of summer.

Of course you might hear a Cuckoo from about early May and might even be lucky enough to see one darting past with its sharp grey wings and barred grey/silver feathers.

Summer seabirds in profusion

When visiting Pembrokeshire you will have the chance to take a boat trip to one of the superb offshore islands there to see nesting seabirds. See pretty Kittiwakes performing their ‘billing and cooing’ mating ritual. Fulmars, related to Albatrosses, fly low over the sea and ride the updraughts near the cliffs. They also nest at Giltar Point near Tenby and on Cardigan Island. Puffins are the main attraction on Skomer and Manx Shearwaters are a rare treat: if you spend the night on the island you can stay up late and see (hear!) them return to their burrows. Thousands of breeding Gannets can be seen on the more distant Grassholm Island. See our Birds to see near sea water in West Wales page for details of trips.

As well as nesting on the islands, Guillemots and Razorbills are present on the cliffs and stack rocks around the coast of Pembrokeshire: Stackpole Cliffs and Elegug Rocks on the South Pembrokeshire coast are good places to see them and they also love Needle Rock on the north side of Dinas Island near Newport. In Ceredigion, New Quay Head is their favoured spot. Choughs and Peregrines also breed on the coasts and islands. You stand a good chance of spotting the Choughs at Strumble Head or from the Coastal Path in South Ceredigion.

Oystercatchers with their vivid orange beaks and black and white plumage are often to be seen and heard in flocks around the estuaries.

Reserves to visit

If you’re staying at a cottage in Carmarthenshire, there are lovely little reserves such as Gwenffrwd-Dinas, 10 miles north of Llandovery on the road to Llyn Brianne. You can see Pied Flycatchers, Dippers, Common Sandpipers and Grey Wagtails there.

In North Ceredigion, the Dyfi Estuary and RSPB Reserve at Ynys-hir are great places to spot summer waders such as Lapwing and Redshank.

Summer Visitor


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: 14cm Where: Inland
Summer Visitor


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: 10cm Where: Inland
Summer Visitor

Common Sandpiper

Like a Dunlin but legs are dull colour (not black like Dunlin’s). It has very white underside but speckly elsewhere and on chest. Bill: medium length, straight. In flight: wide white stripe along centre of wing and white sides on tail. Tail looks rounded/blunt and dark (not white like Green Sandpiper).

Size: 20cm Where: Sea coast, Fresh water
Summer Visitor

Curlew Sandpiper

Flocks with Dunlins. Similar but more elegant; longer, downcurved bill. White rump rather than speckled. Summer adult: spangled back black, white, chestnut. Face: brickish red. Young birds: most common here autumn with pale-edged feathers on back – look scaly. White belly; buff breast. Striking pale head stripe.

Size: 17-21cm Where: Sea coast
Summer Visitor


Pelagic. Most on Skomer; also on Ramsey Few on Skokholm as ledges not good. Chocolate brown with white belly. Birds favour long, narrow ledges on sheer cliffs and cram themselves in. Lots between Angle and Stackpole on South Pembs coast and on Needle Rock close to Dinas Head.

Size: 41cm Where: Sea coast, Island
Summer Visitor

Pied Flycatcher

Likes old woods, particularly oak with clearings. Very recognisable with striking black and white plumage. They have been tempted into Welsh woods with nesting boxes.

Size: 13cm Where: Inland
Summer Visitor


Pelagic. Skokholm and Skomer. None on Ramsey. They are around from March to end August but you won’t necessarily see them till they have laid eggs June to mid-July.

Size: 30cm Where: Sea coast, Island
Summer Visitor


Pelagic. Most on Skomer; also Skokholm, Ramsey Lots between Angle and Stackpole on South Pembs coast and Needle Rock by Dinas Head. Easy to spot: huge chunky bill with distinctive white stripe. Black and white. Rarely seen outside breeding season.

Size: 38-41cm Where: Sea coast, Island
Summer Visitor


Mostly woodland – prefers oak, but during migration can be seen on coast. Males like to sit in top of tree to sing. Elusive, they flit about with wide blunt tail unmistakeably rusty red. Male has big black bib and grey upper with orange underside. Female browner all over but has same tail.

Size: 13cm Where: Sea coast, Inland
Summer Visitor

Sand Martin

Makes holes in sand or earth banks often beside water. In flight: brown upper, wings and breast band. Underparts white. Wings very pointy and tail has shallow notch. Much smaller than swift.

Size: 12cm Where: Inland, Fresh water
Summer Visitor


Always on the wing like martins, swift is grey-brown all over, has deep forked tail and very pointed wings like a war plane, cutting through the air in a broad curve. Never perches like swallows do. Utters high screaming note.

Size: 16cm Where: Inland
Summer Visitor

Tree Pipit

Very similar to Meadow Pipit but summer only. Walks and wags tail. Pale grey or brown above; at rest has dark streaks and prominent white-edged black ‘frill’ at top of wing. Very streaky breast – cream or pale yellowish. Flies direct and fast; no fluttering. Edge of woods, plantations and heaths.

Size: 15cm Where: Inland

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