Wales wildlife

West Wales wildlife watch with Newgale Holidays

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We don’t like to brag, but when it comes to wildlife spotting in the UK, we’re pretty much bang in the middle of one of the UK’s finest unspoilt hotspots.  The rich and abundant wildlife around Pembrokeshire’s coastline and hills are due to its prolific ecosystem.  Most of Pembrokeshire is designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest, or SSSI.  Not only this but at Newgale Holidays, we’re at the epicentre of the only coastal National Park in the UK!  Untouched by the hazards of modern living, Pembrokeshire’s wildlife enjoys a calm and thriving environment.  So, we thought it only fair to share our West Wales wildlife tips for all budding animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts coming to stay in our beautiful cottages.

Here’s our guide to all there is to see and do on your West Wales wildlife watch.

West Wales wildlife watch…in the sea

Let’s be honest, most people visit Pembrokeshire for its coastal offerings; coasteering, boat trips, surfing and beachside barbecues.  With over 50 beaches along its 186-mile sea-carved stretch, it’s only natural that we’re drawn to the beauty of the sea.  But there’s a lot more happening the Celtic Deep than you might think…

In September, our beautiful hidden coves become a hive of activity as our resident grey seals come onto the secluded shores to give birth.  If you’re walking the coast path around this time of year, you’re very likely to see (or hear – they’re noisy!) seal pups sunning themselves while their Mums keep a watchful eye from the nearby waves.  While we love seeing the pups in Autumn, it’s important to remember not to approach pups on the beach – their Mothers will abandon them if they’re disturbed by humans, so let’s keep them safe and stay at a friendly distance.

Throughout the rest of the year, you can take boat trips out into the Irish sea and see some of our more mischievous visitors, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise.  Although the porpoise vastly outnumbers the dolphins, they’re much shyer.  Over 100 bottlenose dolphins travel down the coast from their home in Cardigan Bay each year and like to have a little fun diving alongside boats.  If you’re keen on seeing a dolphin show then head over to Strumble Head (home of the stunning lighthouse) where, if you look North, they can usually be seen in summer, or head to Caerfai near St Davids for a more dramatic clifftop viewpoint.

It’s not only dolphins in the water, though – these undisturbed waters are also home to basking sharks (who aren’t sharks at all!), the occasional minke whale, and in 2010 there was even a report of a Great White that seemed to have gotten lost! 

There is no need to be worried about getting into the water, though.  Even the many jellyfish that visit our shores are mostly harmless…do keep an eye out for a man o’ war, though…they’re not so friendly!

West Wales wildlife watch…in the air

You’ll know that you’re reaching Newgale Holidays and the West Wales coast as you’ll be greeted by our noisiest residents, seagulls.  But they’re not the only UK sea bird to grace our western shores.  While our resident Oystercatchers can be seen wading around the rock pools all year round, tiny Kittiwakes only come ashore in Spring to create their seaweed nests.

Britain’s largest seabird, the gannet, has made its home on Grassholm Island (accessible via a boat trip) and has the second-largest population in Europe living there!  Similarly, over half of the world’s population of Manx Shearwater nest on the islands and clifftops of Pembrokeshire.  They are beautifully adapted to living at sea and can be seen with their narrow black wingtips skimming the waves along the shoreline.  You’ll have the best chance of seeing Manx Shearwater around Skomer island between May and September.

Of course, we can’t leave out Pembrokeshire’s more boisterous bird of prey.  Red kites were re-introduced to the Preseli Hills in 2003 and now, their distinctive deeply forked tails, reddish feathers and their “whit-whew-whew” style call can be seen and heard from cairn to cliff across the county.

West Wales wildlife watch…in the ground

You didn’t think we’d forgotten to mention our unmistakable, best-loved and most famous creatures, did you?  With their short wings, multi-colour beaks and squeaky voices, the Atlantic Puffin is the star of Pembrokeshire’s wildlife show, but they’re in this category as they famously burrow into the ground to create nests.   There is much excitement in the air when these colourful characters return to their clifftop nesting sites in April, ready to lay their single egg and incubate it until early June.  Towards the end of July, having lived the first 6 weeks of their lives underground, fledgeling puffins take to the air, disappearing to live at sea for the winter from August onwards.

The rolling hills and open fields that separate the sea from the mountains are filled with badger and foxes, voles and polecats, and you’re sure to hear the screech of a pheasant from your holiday cottage.

Although remote, Pembrokeshire’s coastline is thriving with flora and fauna throughout the year; the hedgerows and coastal path burn yellow with aromatic gorse in spring, with bright flashes of blue milkwort and pink thrift in summer.  The lichen glows gold along the red and blue rock all-year-round, creating a dramatic palette teamed with grey skies in winter.

Pembrokeshire is also becoming known for flowers that aren’t so wild.   Above the beautiful beachside town of Broad Haven, with high seascapes in the distance, one farmer has taken to growing fields of resplendent sunflowers.  You can go in August and pick your own, and what’s left is used to feed his cattle ready for winter.

So there you have it – there’s so much to see and do here in Pembrokeshire that we can guarantee that you’ll want to come back during the different seasons to see how this stunning county and its fascinating residents keep guests wide-eyed all year round.

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