Wildlife watching in the Dyfi Biosphere, West Wales
As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the Dyfi Biosphere, Florence Fortnam picks out a selection of local adventure activities in the great outdoors.
Given that great swathes of the Dyfi valley have become protected nature reserves, there are fantastic birdwatching opportunities. Ospreys, egrets, and lapwings are common sights in these reserves – you might even get to spot dolphins and porpoises out to sea. The northern fringes of the region are carpetted in dense forests and have some fantastic cycling tracks and trails that wend their way through the dense woodland.
Many of the routes head into the Cambrian Mountains where steep tracks will keep serious bikers happy. The Dyfi Valley is a walkers' paradise. Unlike some of the better known protected areas in the UK, you'll be able to wonder for miles without bumping into another soul, and whatever sort of terrain you want to stretch your legs on – be it a coastal, wooded, or open plain – you will be able to do it all here.
Cors Dyfi is a wonderful nature reserve which is teeming with wildlife year-round and is home to the Dyfi Osprey Project. Most people visit between April and September when the magnificent Ospreys – named Monty, Nora and Scraggly – are around, but there are lots of other plants and animals to spot throughout the rest of the year, including water buffalo. There’s an elevated bird hide, a visitor centre and a small shop onsite. dyfiospreyproject.com
Ynys Hir RSPB Reserve
This bird and wildlife reserve has mixed Welsh oak woodland with wet grassland and salt marshes, an environment that brings carpets of flowers in spring, wading birds in summer – such as lapwings and little egrets – and ducks and geese in winter, so whichever season you visit in, there is always plenty going on. Seven hides allow visitors to spot birds of prey, and the two nature trails – 1.5 and 3 miles – loop round the reserve affording fabulous views from lookout points. rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/y/ynys-hir
Ynyslas, Dyfi National Nature Reserve This nature reserve teems with flora and fauna year-round. The estuary is a perfect feeding ground for wading birds, such as the shelduck, who descend on the reserve in their thousands every year, and the dunes are home to rare orchids and other wild plants – you may even spot dolphins and porpoises out to sea. Over a quarter of a million visitors flock to the reserve every year to enjoy the trails through the dunes and the carpets of wild flowers in spring. visitmidwales.co.uk/Borth-Dyfi-National-Nature-Reserve-Centre