Pembrokeshire is renowned for its vast array of wildlife. The different and diverse habitats throughout the Pembrokeshire National Park provide excellent homes for many different species of wildlife and wildflowers. The importance of these habitats within Pembrokeshire has resulted in many areas being designated nationally and internationally for nature conservation and protection. Sea birds, seals and cetaceans draw thousands of visitors to our coasts and islands. Every year increasing numbers of visitors come to see them, and the spectacle of wildflowers which adorn the hedgerows and cliff tops. Pembrokeshire is a true paradise for those on a bird watching holiday, or anyone with a wildlife interest. The coastline changes from rugged cliffs and sheltered coves to long sandy beaches.
Whereas inland can offer habitats as diverse as the Daugleddau estuary to the moor lands of the Preseli hills. The Pembrokeshire National Park includes several offshore islands which are of international importance in respect of their seabird and seal populations.For those staying at our holiday cottages the wildlife experience starts before you even leave the Courtyard. We have several species of birds, including wag tails and swallows, who choose to make their nests in our Courtyard year after year. Birds of prey can often be seen circling above the Courtyard. The river Teifi which winds around the outside of these holiday cottages is host to many species of wildlife from the frequently seen swans, ducks, & Canada geese to our local kingfishers and the more elusive otters. You can either watch the wildlife swim by from the luxury of your holiday cottage, or enjoy a tranquil walk along the river through Cilgerran Gorge. The waters themselves are famous for their sea trout and salmon. Hence proving an excellent location for a fishing holiday.
The Pembrokeshire National Park is home to internationally important colonies of Gannets, Manx shearwaters, Storm petrel and Chough, the latter being rare in Britain. Another amazing bird to make its home in Pembrokeshire is the Peregrine Falcon, the second fastest bird in the world, who can dive for prey at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.
Two of the Parks most famous wildlife residents must be the Puffin and the razorbill. The Razorbill is well known and recognised as the Pembrokeshire National Park’s logo. Puffins tend to make their homes on the offshore islands, where their burrows are free from attack by predators such as foxes, stoats and rats. The islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Midleholm hold the world's largest breeding population of Manx shearwater, while the Puffin is arguably one of the most famous island residents of all. Pembrokeshire is also an excellent place for those on a bird watching holiday to spot a bird of prey, many different species inhabit the area. Inland the estuaries provide the perfect home for a diverse variety of wildlife, including wading birds and wildfowl.
Here in Pembrokeshire we are privileged to have a stunning coastline, and proud of the way it has been, and is protected for all to enjoy. This sense of the importance of conservation also means that our coastal waters still act as host to a dazzling array of marine wildlife. Pembrokeshire’s unique location jutting out into the Gulf Stream means that it not only enjoys one of the mildest climates in Britain, but also that many groups of wildlife can be found as the cold waters of the North Atlantic overlap with warmer waters from the south.
On shore the grey seal is one of the coast's biggest stars, with Ramsey Island boasting the second largest grey seal colony in Britain. Seals can be seen all year round. They are naturally very curious, and enjoy basking on rocks and watching people in boats! Some of the more adventurous, especially young seals will come right up to passing boats. They are highly intelligent animals. Seals breed in late summer / autumn, and so September and October are the best times to see new born pups. They can be seen in many of the sheltered coves along the spectacular coastline or around the offshore islands of the Pembrokeshire National Park.
The harbour porpoise is almost the smallest cousin of the great whales and Pembrokeshire is one of the best places in Britain to see them. Bottlenose dolphins are frequently seen in Fishguard and Newport Bays during the summer, Sightings are also common further up the coast in Cardigan Bay. Over the last decade sightings have increased off the Strumble head peninsula. Other species of dolphin such as Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, Common Dolphins, White Sided Dolphins, Striped Dolphins, and Risso’s Dolphins have all been seen in the area. Risso’s dolphins, although not common do turn up annually. Sightings have been recorded from June to January, and on occasion the spectacle of mothers with very young calves have been seen passing close by boats.
The Basking shark has been recorded in Pembrokeshire’s coastal waters, although they are not usually seen unless out in a boat. Don’t let this stop you enjoying a swim in any of Pembrokeshire’s glorious beaches – this giant eats plankton. Swimming slowly with its cavernous mouth wide open, it constantly sieves tiny creatures out of the water. It is second in size only to the Whale shark, and can reach up to 18m, although those reported in British waters are usually only 4-6m. The fin whale is sometimes seen (the second largest animal to have ever lived after the blue whale), again this feeds on plankton and shrimps. Other species of wildlife that have made appearances include killer whales, pilot whales and sun fish. The minke whale may visit in the summer, and although slightly larger than an African elephant, it would fit whole in the mouth of the aforementioned fin whale.
One of the best times to visit Pembrokeshire is in the spring. The infamous hedgerows are a truly spectacular blaze of colour, with a plethora of wildflowers. The early spring snowdrops and primroses give way to bluebells, foxgloves, Pink campion and the glorious spires of wild orchids. The inland meadows and woodlands are transformed into carpets of blue by the sheer numbers of bluebells. Pembrokeshire is deservedly renowned as the county with the finest hedgerows in Britain. Despite their location the cliff tops are no less spectacular, putting on grand displays of wildflowers such as sea pink. Due to its mild climate Pembrokeshire also hosts several exotic imported plants such a palms trees, which can comfortably survive here.
Pembrokeshire’s offshore islands are of international importance in respect of their seabird and seal populations. The largest islands are Skomer, Skokholm, Ramsey, Grasholm and Caldey and these add to the character of the coast and are very much part of the Pembrokeshire National Park. The closest island to our holiday cottages is Ramsey Island.
RAMSEY ISLAND is a nature reserve owned and protected by the RSPB, who bought the island in 1992. Only one company have the rights to land here. See Coastal Activities. There is a resident warden and there are restrictions on the number of people allowed on the island each day. The island has two small mountains – Carn Llundain and Carn Ysgubor which shelter it on the west side. Thousands of nesting seabirds come to Ramsey Island in the spring and early summer. Breads commonly seen include – Razorbills, Auks, Kittiwakes, Cormorants, Guillemots and Fulmars. It is also home to Peregrine Falcons, Buzzards & the largest population of lapwings in Wales, and a popular location with Chough, who breed and winter here in good numbers. Oystercatchers, Fulmars, Shags and Cormorants are around until September. The boat trip from just outside St David’s, crosses the impressive waters of Ramsey Sound, and it treacherous reef known as The Bitches. The island’s caves and beaches are home to one of the UK’s largest populations of Atlantic grey seals. The best time to visit is autumn when the first white – furred pups are born. Over 300 seal pups are born here each year. Sea otters can also be seen in Ramsey Sound. Other wildlife, both flora and fauna also prosper on Ramsey including a herd of red deer, and Pembrokeshire’s famous wildflowers.
Wildlife of all sizes abound throughout Pembrokeshire, from otters and rabbits to red deer. Pembrokeshire is home to some very rare species such as the Skomer vole which is only found in the county of Pembrokeshire. As well as mammals Pembrokeshire offers the perfect habitat for all sorts of insects – we have large numbers of ladybirds and a huge variety of butterflies. One of the best ways to see Pembrokeshire and its wildlife is on a nature walk. There is enough to keep hardened nature enthusiasts or just casual walkers enthralled. See our walking holiday page.
Alternatively you may like to visit some of the centres accommodating a variety of wildlife. The following are some suggestions -
An exceptional 265 acre nature reserve. Described as one of the best places in the UK to see otters. Extensive nature trails, observation hides, Children’s play area and visitors centre
Based on the Castell Malgwyn estate. This offers walks, instruction & falconry days – you can experience the thrill of seeing a bird of prey fly free and return on command to your gloved fist.
Other places of particular wildlife interest can be found under the section Ceredigion .
At a Glance