Wales is one of four countries that make up the United Kingdom. It has a population of approximately three million people with the largest cities in the south, Cardiff and Swansea. It is located in the west of the United Kingdom with England on its eastern boundary, to the west is the Irish Sea, and to the south the Bristol Channel. Wales is largely a country full of mountains hills and valleys. The tallest peak in the country is Mt. Snowdon located in Snowdonia National Park – it rises to 3,560ft above sea level. Wales also has almost 1700 miles of coast that include the offshore Islands of the Anglesey, Bardsey, Ramsey, Skomer, and Skokholm.
Birdwatching in Wales can be excellent. For many, the flagship bird is the Red Kite. The population was once down to just a few pairs but since recent reintroduction, hundreds can be seen in the Elan Valley and several other locations throughout the country. The woodlands and streams in central and northern Wales hold some of the highest populations in the UK of breeding Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, and more.
The islands off the coast of Wales hold internationally important breeding populations of many seabirds, including the Atlantic Puffin and Common Murre. The South Stack RSPB reserve and Skomer islands are great places to visit to see these birds. The coasts of Wales are also one of the best places to find the rare Red-billed Chough, a beautiful member of the crow family.
There are many great estuaries or wetland nature reserves such as Valley Wetlands on Anglesey or Newport Wetlands in South Wales that hold important wintering populations of wintering wildfowl such as Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon or Green-winged Teal.
Owen visited the central valleys area of Wales in October 2022 to visit and photograph the Red Kites in the Rhayder area.