What to see and where
Autumn & winter birdwatching
If you thought birdwatching in Pembrokeshire took a back seat during autumn and winter, then you’d be wrong.
Pembrokeshire’s westerly location makes it a perfect stopping off point for migrating birds and those blown off course by autumn storms plus the warmth of the gulf stream makes for a warmer bolt hole for overwintering birds.
Here are our top stunning ‘twitching’ locations that will keep you going until spring.
Strumble Head – for sea watching
Watching from the “lookout” anything is possible from September onwards, this is the best time of year for rare seabirds such as Sabine’s Gull, Leaches and Storm Petrels, Great, Cory’s, and Sooty Shearwater as well as the commoner seabirds such as Kittiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill, and the occasional Puffin.
Be mindful that there is little shelter and a lack of public facilities at this often windswept location so you may require warm clothing and take your own food and hot flasks at this time of year.
Marloes Mere – for winter duck and geese
Park at the National Trust car park and view over the Mere, then walk to the two hides one on the North and one on the South to view a variety of ducks on the open water. There is the chance to see large numbers of geese grazing in the fields here. A walk from here to the coast may be rewarded with views of Merlin, Peregrine Falcon and sometimes Chough.
There are no facilities on site so wrap up warm and take sturdy boots.
Llys-y-Fran Lake – for Grebes, Ducks and winter gull roosts
Park in the car park and walk the Eastern bank keeping an eye out for Grebes which in the wintertime will include Little and Great Crested, but you may see Black Necked or Slavonian on the water. There is usually a huge gull roost of mainly the larger gulls but also Black Headed gulls and the rarer white-winged gulls such as Iceland and Glaucous gull.
There is a visitor centre with cafe with fantastic views right across the lake.
Canaston Woodland – for estuary waders and woodland birds.
Park at the Forestry Commission car park just after Blackpool Mill and head for the viewpoint, here you will encounter woodland species including Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and Marsh Tit. In a hard winter, you may be lucky to see Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
When you reach the view point, you will be overlooking the estuary, look out for Shelduck, Redshank, Teal, Curlew, Dipper, Kingfisher, and Grey Heron. This area is also popular for Starlings so you may get to see the magical murmuration as they come into roost.
There are no facilities on site so take warm and waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear is essential.
The Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran
Extensive reed-bed habitat abutting the Teifi estuary and flanked by woodland. The reserve is fully equipped with accessible hides where you could see visiting or overwintering waders and wildfowl.
The adjacent woodland and gorge is the breeding ground for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Wood Warblers, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers. Richard’s Pipit, Spotted Crake and Aquatic Warbler have been seen and there is always the chance of encountering a Goshawk or Red Kite (also Otters!). In spring you might see breeding Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s Warblers, Water Rails and Reed Buntings making the reserve an all year round twitchers delight.
The Gann, near Dale
Good numbers of passage and wintering waterbirds, particularly Dunlin, Curlew, Whimbrel, Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck. A variety of other species occur, such as Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes, Whooper and Bewick’s Swans. Like most estuaries, one never knows what might turn up. Spoonbill, Avocet, American Wigeon, Long-billed Dowitcher and White-winged Black Tern have been seen.
Remember to keep a record of your sightings and send them to the local county bird recorder, it helps them keep track of our wonderfully diverse bird life.
And don’t forget your binoculars!