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Winter wildlife

Robin in the snow

You may think winter is a time when there is not much about, but there really is a lot to see especially birds. The robin with its red breast is a common sight. Our nature reserves are a great place to see birds in the winter months, as many migrate to Wales for the winter – see wintering wildfowl and waders at reserves such as the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) Llanelli and Ynys-hir RSPB reserve, Ceredigion.

Brent Geese come from Canada and Greenland, siskins from Scandinavia and if our winter is mild you may spot a goldfinch.

In the mud flats, you’ll find the oystercatcher, dunlin, curlew and redshank. Seaducks and divers, such as the red-throated diver and the common scoter, a small black seaduck, owe their over winter survival to Wales’ inshore waters. The numbers of common scoter that arrive are of international importance.

Winter is a good time to see owls, with tawny owls pairing up in the during this season. As the new year approaches, you may see starlings, lapwings and golden plovers. When early flowers, such as the snowdrop start to peep through in January or February, you may see the courtship of the heron and rooks starting to breed.

Deer, squirrels and birds

As well as birds, there are many other species in Wales you can see in winter, including wild deer. Although the numbers of wild deer in Wales are increasing, they are still very good at keeping themselves hidden. However, you can see deer across Wales in parks such as DinefwrMargam.

Although many smaller mammals hibernate through winter, in the parks and woodlands you may see squirrels with their thick winter coats feasting on the nuts they have stored or challenging for the food put out for garden birds. You will need to look carefully to spot a native red squirrel, as their numbers have suffered over the years from the more dominant grey squirrel.  The best place to see red squirrels is probably the Island of Anglesey. 

Where to see wildlife

There are many places to see our wildlife, including in our three National Parks - SnowdoniaPembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacon National Parks and five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are over 70 National Nature Reserves, plus many local Nature Reserves, Wildlife Trust and RSPB Reserves.

Winter is also a time when a lot of work goes into activities such as coppicing and clearing reedbeds to manage the environment and maintain the habitats, which attract wildlife here.

The Botanic Garden of Wales attracts a number of birds during the winter. If you fancy transporting yourself to warmer climes, how about a visit to the Great Glasshouse, where you will find plants from all parts of the world.