Birds to see in summer in West Wales - West Wales Holiday Cottages
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Birds to see in summer in West Wales

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 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. More detail about these on our page about Birds to see on the offshore islands of West Wales.

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 the 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.

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Grey Heron

Resident
A large bird with a very long neck which is often hunched up while it stands stock-still looking for fish. Huge wing span. Unmistakeable.
Size: 90cm
Where: Fresh water

Little Egret

Resident
A recent arrival in the area, this is an elegant bright white bird very similar to but much smaller than a heron. When it flies, it tucks its neck in and sticks its legs out to the rear.
Size: 53-58cm
Where: Fresh water

Canada Goose

Resident
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: 100cm
Where: Sea coast, Fresh water

Coal Tit

Resident
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.
Size: 11cm
Where: Inland

Willow Tit

Resident
Less easy to spot than Marsh Tit. Chunkier head with thick neck and dull cap. Favours damp woods: alder and willow so less likely to be close to casual spotters. Song quite musical: si-si tchay-tchay-tchay.
Size: 12cm
Where: Inland

Linnet

Resident
Carduelis. Likes open heath and cliff scrub. Perches on bushes or wires. Male: rosy breast in summer; tawny brown on top with dark wings showing white streaks in flight. Tail black and white with deep fork. Feeds on seeds on ground, often flocking with finches and sparrows in winter. Chi-chi chiu plus warbling.
Size: 15cm
Where: Sea coast, Inland

Redpoll

Resident
Carduelis genus. Likes trees but also comes down to feed. Very streaky underparts, black bib. Male: pale rosy breast and dark red forehead. Birch and larch preferred food. Flocks bounce around in flight and make loud rattling 'check' sound.
Size: 12cm
Where: Inland

Reed Bunting

Resident
Mostly beside water but may appear in winter fields. Male: black head in summer (grey/brown winter) with white collar. Streaky brown/black back tinged with yellowish brown. Freckled greyish underparts. Female: dark crown and white eye stripe. Tail: blunt. Black with broad white patches on sides.
Size: 16cm
Where: Inland, Fresh water

Meadow Pipit

Resident
Walks around on open moors and marshes and flocks on fields in winter. Pale grey or brown above with dark streaks and prominent white-edged black 'frill' at top of wing when at rest. Very streaky breast - cream or pale orangish buff. It flutters about jerkily doing squeaky chirps.
Size: 15cm
Where: Inland

Treecreeper

Resident
An extremely cute little bird; it creeps up tree trunks to find insects. Little downcurved bill. Mottled pale brown on top with darker patches on wing. Pales underside. Doesn't visit garden feeders.
Size: 13cm
Where: Inland

Sparrowhawk

Resident
Upperparts all-over grey/blue with pale rust bars and white below. Shorter, more pointed tail than Kestrel. Long, yellow legs. No spotted feathers above. Often flies a few feet above the road for quite a distance. Females bigger than male with browner upperside.
Size: 27-37cm
Where: Inland

Common Gull

Resident
Medium sized. Dainty bill not bright yellow. Grey and white. Herring gull is much more common in West Wales.
Size: 40-42cm
Where: Sea coast, Inland

Wheatear

Summer visitor
Early summer visitor. Appears March. Favours open grassland on cliffs. Back pale greyish brown and yellowish breast; black eyestripe edged white above; in flight: dark wings, bright white rump and black T-shape at tip. It runs along the ground rather than hopping around.
Size: 14cm
Where: Sea coast, Inland

Pied Flycatcher

Summer visitor
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

Oystercatcher

Resident
Black and white with long, narrow orange bill. Black head and rump with white underparts. Flight shows broad angled white stripe on each wing and white rump with black tail tip. Large flocks often utter high-pitched twee-twee when in flight. They land in a big tumble and set to feeding on shore or mud.
Size: 43cm
Where: Sea coast, Fresh water, Island

Curlew

Resident
Largest wader of its kind with long down-turned bill. Mainly grey-brown speckled plumage. Reveals white rump in flight. Calls "Cu-urlew" often late into the evening. Breeds on uplands but is often around the Teifi estuary in late summer as well as winter.
Size: 53-58cm
Where: Sea coast, Inland, Island

Herring Gull

Resident
Large and noisy. Grey and white with large yellow bill which has red spot on lower tip. Legs pinkish - NOT yellow.
Size: 56-62cm
Where: Sea coast, Inland, Island

Buzzard

Resident
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: 55cm
Where: Inland, Island

Chough

Resident
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: 40cm
Where: Sea coast, Island

Cormorant

Resident
Water bird with dark plumage and white throat, white feathers on head in spring. Yellowish bill. White patch on thighs. Long and low when swimming. Dives for long periods. Flies low over water with head held well forward. Often stands with wings half spread.
Size: 90cm
Where: Sea coast, Island
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