Wales's green border country is bursting with wildlife in summer. Go butterfly spotting on a walk in the hills above Llangollen. The open and green hills of Llangollen are a wonderful place to find butterflies. Of the 62 different varieties of butterfly in the UK, 32 of them can be found in reserves of North Wales. Of course there are plenty of butterflies to be found elsewhere in Wales. The comma butterfly acquired its name from the characteristic comma-shaped marking on the base of its rear wing.
A summer generation emerges in June and July, followed by an autumn generation in August and September. Comma butterflies are particularly fond of nettles, so you are quite likely to find them in wilder riverside areas in Wales, such as near Maesisaf, on the River Teifi. Speckled wood butterflies can be found throughout Wales; they are usually found from March all the way through to October. The very pretty Common Blue is now not so common in Wales, yet can still be spotted on roadsides from April to September.
At Caerphilly Castle, today's visitors wander through the towers, climb upon the walls and battlements, walk through the inner courtyard and envision feasts in the Great Hall. Wild ducks and geese live on the nearby water, like those that fed the noblemen and soldiers centuries ago. Wild ducks, Mallards, are found in rivers, lakes, estuaries and salt marshes all around Wales. Occasionally you may find them on the seashore, too.
If you are interested in nature and wildlife there is plenty for you to see in the local area: Cwmcarn Forest Drive is a fantastic 7 mile Forest Drive providing panoramic views, adventure playground, picnic areas, and walking routes.Kenfig National Nature Reserve contains one of the finest wildlife habitats in Wales with wild orchids, insects and birds. The reserve welcomes visitors and has Glamorgan's largest natural lake, Kenfig Pool. This has spectacular views from Sker beach across Swansea Bay to the Gower. The visitor centre exhibition and information point are well worth a visit.
Bryngarw Country Park is another haven of wildlife and natural beauty that offers a visitor centre, a great children's play area, and the charm of Bryngarw House serving light lunches, and a restaurant. Dare Valley Country Park is two hundred hectares of countryside with various trials to suit all levels of interest and fitness. Wild rabbits and foxes, birds such as peregrine falcons, buzzards, kestrel and heron frequent the lakes, as do other water-based birds such as geese, ducks and swans.
The visitor centre here is well equipped to welcome families and a café will serve all your refreshment needs. Greenmeadow Community Farm near Cwmbran is a community farm and sanctuary for wildlife and rare animal breeds, housing a wide variety of animals to discover in an ideal learning environment that is not to be missed.
Grassholm is an amazing habitat containing the second largest colony of Northern Gannets in the world. You can take a boat from Dale or Martins Haven to view the 32,000 breeding pairs of these large graceful birds. Nearby the Skomer Island National Nature Reserve boasts the largest colony of manx shearwaters in Europe. Britain's first bird reserve, Skokholm, also has a joyful array of seabirds from storm petrels, auks and gulls to kittiwakes, fulmars and shearwaters.
To see the puffins in June and all these other birds simply jump aboard at Dale or Martins Haven near Marloes in Haverford West. Ramsey Island, off the coast from St. Davids, is another haven for wildlife and you can take island boat 'safaris', landing boats or fast jet-boat trips from St Justinians.Back on dry land, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is a splendid introduction to the rich biodiversity of the magnificent Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Beginning at Amroth and winding its way north to Poppit Sands, the 186-mile National Trail offers visitors a unique opportunity to come face to face with a remarkable profusion of plants and animals. The entire walk takes 10 days to complete and you can tackle it in more manageable chunks stopping en route for a pub or café lunch.
Grey Seal Pup
The islands of Pembrokeshire, which include Ramsey, Skomer Grassholm and Skokholm, are a treasure of maritime wildlife flora and fauna. A boat trip from St. Justinian near St. Davids, to visit the UK's largest colony of Atlantic Grey Seals on Ramsey Island is one the area's must-do's. This service is available from spring to October and is especially enjoyable during the autumn when the seal pups are born. Porpoises may also be seen at this time in Ramsey Sound.
A trip north through the natural splendour of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park will lead you to the award-winning Welsh Wildlife Centre and to the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve at Cilgerran. The 264-acre reserve is an excellent way for the whole family to experience the wildlife of Wales. There are some great surprises too – such as the Asian Water Buffalo that roam the fields.At the Wildlife Centre there are many visitor amenities such as tearooms, playground and gift shop to entertain you after a day spent looking for otters, badgers, birds and other wildlife.
Get closer to the puffins, razorbills and guillemots of Puffin Island by taking a cruise around the coast of Anglesey. This is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Wales. Take the boat to Puffin Island from the pier for the quaint seaside town of Beaumaris in Anglesey. The open wetlands of Anglesey provide important breeding and feeding grounds for a wide range of fascinating bird species. Puffins can also be spotted in the cliffs and tranquil coves where predators cannot easily reach them.The puffin is an unmistakable bird with an adorable character.
It has white underparts and a black back. Its distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and a tall, flattened, brightly-coloured bill make it a favourite with many people. Its comical appearance is heightened by its red and black eye-markings and bright orange legs. Its call sounds like a growling laugh, and it likes to eat copious amounts of fish, especially sandeels.Adults arrive at the breeding colony in March and April and leave again in mid-August. Some remain in the North Sea at winter, whilst others move further south to the Bay of Biscay.