Where Can I See Birds of Prey in Wales?
From the super speedy peregrine falcon through to the majestic barn owl, there are plenty of birds of prey to be found in Wales for the avid avian watcher. Go bird spotting at one of Wales’ fantastic Wildlife Trusts and nature reserves, or plan a family day out at a falconry experience.
What are birds of prey?
Before you grab your binoculars, though, it’s important to know what birds of prey you can expect to see in Wales, and how to identify them. ‘Birds of prey’ are, unsurprisingly, predatory bird species. They’ll typically have sharp talons and strong feet to grab their prey, excellent eyesight and hearing, and hooked bills. Preferred foods include smaller birds, reptiles, and insects, and they live in a variety of habitats, from woodland to farmland.
When in Wales, keep your eyes peeled for the following birds of prey:
- Hawks and eagles
Where to see birds of prey in Wales
There are a number of places to catch birds of prey in Wales – but you’re pretty much guaranteed an excellent spot of wild birds if you head to one of the three wildlife trusts.
Wildlife Trusts Wales is actually one of 46 Wildlife Trusts that work across the UK. Their aim is to preserve, rewild and improve the natural world around us. As such, each nature reserve for which they take care bursts with wildlife – so you’re just as likely to catch weasels and lizards on these sites as you are to spot a bird of prey!
Cors Dyfi, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust
If you’re particularly keen to see ospreys in their natural habitat, this is the nature reserve for you. Managed by Wales’ Montgomery Wildlife Trust, Cors Dyfi is a wetland wildlife haven and the perfect place to spot 112 different bird species.
It’s most famous, however, for the Dyfi ospreys. These birds are brown and white – you might mistake them for a seagull at first glance – and they feed on fish, which they scoop out of the water with their sharp talons. Keep your eyes peeled around lakes, as this is where ospreys will tend to dive into the water in order to hook their prey.
If you’re keen to make a day of it, there’s an elevated bird hide on site or plenty of walking trails to follow if you’d like a more active search. The best time to catch the ospreys is April to September, as they’re a migratory bird – but you’ll see other birds of prey year-round, including red kites, buzzards, sparrowhawks and kestrels.
Other wildlife to keep an eye out for includes otters, barnacle geese and hen harriers. If you’re lucky, you might even spy a dormouse.
Gilfach, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust
Gilfach is another of the best wildlife trusts in Wales from which to spot wild birds. So much so, in fact, that it’s a designated Special Protection Area (SPA) because of its importance for corvids and birds of prey.
You’ll find 55 breeding birds here – keep an eye out for barn and tawny owls, as well as red kites, buzzards, peregrines, ravens, goshawks and the small merlin. Use one of several waymarked walking trails to begin your bird spotting, or sit by the side of the River Marteg and hope to catch a view of a bird sweeping by.
Skomer Island, Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales
The wildlife of Skomer Island is truly unique. Located less than a mile off the Pembrokeshire coast, this wildlife haven boasts a remarkable number of puffins – around 22,000 on the last count. You’re also likely to see dolphins, porpoise, and seals on the journey over, but be sure to look out for peregrines, sparrowhawks, kestrels and owls too.
Just be aware that Skomer Island is part of a Marine Conservation Zone, and as such there are careful rules to follow when there, in order to protect the wildlife.
Falconry Experience Wales
If you’re keen to interact with red kites, eagles, owls, falcons and more, this award-winning falconry experience in Powys might be your ideal day out. You can book either a one-to-one session or a private group experience and get up close and personal with a variety of raptors.
The company prioritises conservation efforts, working with international conservation charities for birds of prey – including a charity in Namibia. There’s also a junior and a family falconry experience, so that you can tailor your interaction with the birds depending on your needs.
British Birds of Prey Centre Wales
Another great bird of prey experience in Wales can be found at the British Birds of Prey Centre. Watch red kites, peregrine falcons and golden eagles soar in front of you at one of their many daily shows, or have a more hands-on experience with a bird yourself.
This centre also works to conserve birds of prey, supporting various projects with different birds, including ospreys and white-tailed sea eagle. Plus, once you’ve had your fill of birds of prey, you can then wander around the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where this centre is based.
Discover Wales’ birds of prey
Whether you’re hoping to spy a wild bird of prey, or are keen for a guaranteed spot at a birds of prey experience, Wales has something to satisfy every kind of avian enthusiast. If you’re keen to find a particular species, remember to plan your trip accordingly, so as not to miss out. The wildlife awaits.