Guided walks, exiting talks and much more to discover the wildlife of Gower
Explore the beauty and richness of
Custom made walks and tours looking for wildlife on the Gower with a very knowledgeable guide. Walks are set in beautiful scenery. All levels of interest are catered for – from the beginner, family walks, groups or specific wildlife interests or specific species
Gower Wildlife Walks is operated and led by Ed Hunter.
I grew up in Lancashire where my local birding patch was Rivington near Horwich – an excellent area of habitats from reservoirs, woodlands, moors and Red Moss land. In these early years the discoveries of breeding Long Eared Owls, Lesser Spotted woodpeckers, a vagrant Spotted Sandpiper and a singing Golden Oriole saw me firmly hooked on searching for birds whenever I could in my local area.
In 1989, I moved to Cardiff and my new patch was the Rhymney Great Wharf and the Taff / Ely Estuary before it was flooded for Cardiff Bay and I have been exploring Glamorgan and beyond ever since with a particular interest in the Gower.
In 1996, I spent a lot of time out in the Straits of Gibraltar. Initially I was a resident volunteer for Migres helping to study the numbers of bird of prey and Storks migrating across the Strait to Morocco and later I was involved with Radio tracking of Black storks in Andalucia.
Having tasted foreign birding I began many extensive trips in search of birds and wildlife to much further afield countries such as India, Nepal, Sikkim, Namibia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Morocco, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Turkey , Israel, Canada and the USA but I have always returned to Wales where I have lived in Glamorgan between the travels.
My local birding has led to many rare Welsh finds. In 2015, I discovered the first breeding pair of Iberian Chiffchaff ever for the UK – a vagrant from Spain.
I documented this exciting occurrence and was awarded the Carl Zeiss Award for its documentation in 2016 and this paper which is interactive with sound and video was published in the scientific journal ‘British Birds’ in 2018. I am currently an active committee member of the Gower Ornithological Society which I am enjoying very much.
I am very passionate about birds and natural world and a keen photographer with a lot of interest in migration, vagrancy, birds of prey and identification of birds.
Wildlife on Gower
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE WILDLIFE ON THE GOWER
Gower holds a real true great variety of wildlife all year round with its diverse and often adjacent assortment of habitats. When you combine this with its spectacular coastlines, beautiful scenery, interesting historic elements and extensive network of footpaths this makes it a stunning place to find and watch wildlife.
There are regularly superb photographic opportunities with the wildlife as well as the guaranteed landscape scenery.
Coastal footpath and Cliffs
Gower is blessed with stunning cliffs particularly along its southern shore. This saltwater sprayed fringe combines rare flora as well as some very entertaining birds on the cliffs. The coastal cliffs hold a lovely set of birds on the South Gower coast of which many are resident. These cliffs also give a good vantage to overlook the sea and the wildlife in the area.
Gower is lucky to still hold good populations of many birds although even here they are in decline from modern world pressures.
It is still possible to hear Skylarks ,and Yellowhammers in these areas. Other rarer species include the Chough which returned to the area in 1989. Peregrine Falcon and Kestrels are regularly encountered.
Ravern, Rock Pipits and Dartford Warblers are also present but the latter have recently dwindled in numbers after recent hard winter weather.
In Spring and Summer the area holds a host of butterflies with 12 species possible in a day at the right time of year from the Small Blue, Gatekeeper, Dark Green Frittilary to the Grayling.
Wall Brown at Rhossili 2018
Out on the sheer Cliffs of Worms head are the seabirds such as Fulmar, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbill which can be seen only in spring and summer months and is the only site in Gower where these species breed together.
On calm occasions Puffins can also be seen during June and July as they come for a nose at the other breeding Auks on the head. The closest breeding nest sites are on the islands of Lundy and Skomer. Feeding flocks of Gannet and Manx Shearwaters can also be seen here sometimes in large numbers.
Here the swell of the storm Orphea when it hit the Outer Worm in Oct 2017
Other species which can be seen along the coastal path or out on Worms head include Rock Pipit, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Cormorant, Shag, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper (winter), Whimbrel (spring).
Whitethroat at Pennard Sept 2018
In winter, Great Northern and Red Throated Divers, Guilimots, Razorbills, and Common Scoter can be seen. In some years Long Tailed Ducks are around with a wintering group of up to 12 in 2017 and also in winter Arctic Gulls are regularly seen such as Glaucous and Iceland gulls. In 2015 Burry Holm held a Vagrant American Thayers Gull which was the first ever for Wales.
All year round Grey Atlantic Seals are in the area as are Harbour Porpoises. In the summer Common Dolphins can be found although far trickier to find.
Iceland Gull at Blackpill in March 2018
Fox, Adder, Slow Worm, Weasel and Stoat are also sometimes encountered.
A special local resident is the Chough – this delightful crow returned to breed on Gower in 1989 after a 100 year absence and it has now recolonised much of the cliff coastline although it can be quite elusive and erratic in its appearances. With its characteristic red bill and legs it is always a joy to watch.
These can be quite a daily encounter – if seen hunting the Salt-marshes, Commons or the cliffs – they sometimes give spectacular views hunting or perched up. Here the Peregrine is watching a Chough on the cliff below me – which eventually escaped the Peregrines gaze.
Estuaries and Tidal Salt-marsh.
The Burry inlet has a incredible tidal reach which is among some of the highest tidal differences in the world
Here a view from Cefn Bryn towards Whitford point and Berges island.
These areas hold some real excellent numbers of Ducks, Geese and Waders both wintering and migrating through the area. With good local knowledge and timing as well as a bit of luck some very interesting birds can be seen. A tidal estuary is a hive of activity and a joy to watch and the Burry holds huge numbers of wintering bird species with large flocks of Golden Plover particularly notable.
Otter- Cefn Bryn March 2018
Otters too are present on the estuary and its salt marshes but are very elusive and are more often encountered on smaller pools.
A group of spring plum agedSanderling and Dunlin roosting at Whitford Point at high tide
Some of the wader species which can be seen on North Gower include:
Curlew, Whimbrel, Dunlin. Redshank , Greenshank,Sanderling, Black tailed Godwit, Bar Tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Ringed plover, Purple Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Knot , Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Jack Snipe ( winter), Purple Sandpiper(winter) as well as the odd Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper in spring but mainly autumn.
These waters can also hold some interesting species including :
A spectacular Male Red Breasted Merganser a wintering species on th estuary in small numbers.
Eider, Wigeon, Pintail, Teal, Dark Bellied Brent Goose, Slavonian Grebe, Gullimot, Red Throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Red Breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Scaup, Sandwich, Conman and Arctic Tern, Arctic Skua, Gannet, Manx Shearwater, Grey Heron, Great White and Little Egrets.
Slavonian Grebe – small numbers winter annually in the Burry Islet.
Birds of Prey
Male Hen Harrier over the Vile, Rhossili Feb2017
Hen Harriers are present on Gower from autumn until spring with usually a winter roost, although in the day they can also be found quartering fields, salt marsh or on common land.
Other predators at this time can be over an wintering marsh Harrier or Short eared Owl in a good vole year with the more usual Red Kite, Merlin, Sparrow hawk, Goshawk, Peregrine, Barn Owl or Kestrel lurking around somewhere. Peregrines and Merlin’s are often seen hunting the abundant which the area holds.
In the summer the elusive Hobby is occasionally encountered as it hunts the plentiful Dragonflies over the marsh or Commons.
Osprey out on the saltmarsh off Weobley in autumn.
In autumn the Burry Islet hosts Ospreys! These majestic birds are stopping off to refuel from their more northern nest sites before migrating south to Africa. Up to 4 have been present at once in some years and it’s a real impressive sight to see them fishing the estuary.
Red Kites are now encountered regularly on The Gower a real success story this bird was over Rhossili in July 2018
View over Fairwood common.
The common land area of Gower is a very idyllic scenic area. It is still grazed by wild horses along with cattle and sheep. This helps keep the bracken at bay and a real wealth in butterflies, flowers and plants including the whitlow Grass known only from Gower in the UK although this occurs in a more is coastal location.
The habitat is great for declining species such as yellowhammer and Skylarks both threatened due to changes in agriculture practices of modern farming. The Cuckoo also just clings on with one or two on the commons.
Stone-chats and Linnets are still relatively common as are a few Green Woodpeckers, the Stock Dove too still survives on the Gower.
A male Yellowhammer with food for its brood.
The commons are rich in a wealth of butterflies including the rare and beautiful Marsh Fritillary and wells as Small and Common Blues, Wall Brown, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver washed Fritillary, Small Copper and Gatekeeper to name a few to be found on Gower.
Dragonflies and Damselflies are also well represented from the Great Emperor shown below to the far rarer Southern Damselfly.
So I hope you enjoyed a brief summary of some of the incredible wildlife which can be seen on Gower.
Migrant Birds to Gower
A male Ring Ousel.
Gower is fortunate to get many migrant species particularly in the Spring and autumn. These vary depending upon the season with lots of seabirds, waders as well as Warblers and flycatchers passing through in good numbers.
In the gallery there are images of some of the scarce or rarer recent birds on Gower. these can include
Walks and Guiding
I offer Wildlife specialist and introductory tours and walks for all levels of interest. The tours and walks can be custom made for your individual or group requirements whether this is just wildlife orientated or scenery and local history walks combined.
The starting points vary according to season to show you the best of wildlife on Gower or beyond.
The walks can be for 1-2 hours , 1/2 day or full day outings.
One – to – one bird watching day tutorials in the field on Gower are also available for all levels of interest to improve your identification skills, bird song knowledge and field craft.
Please have a look at my Gallery for ideas of some of the wildlife we may see.
Please telephone or email me to discuss what you would like and what you are interested in.
Some Autumn walk ideas
Juvenile Whinchat at Rhossilli in Sept 2016
Grey Atlantic Seals and Choughs
General Wildlife and History, Family or Group walks
Autumn migrants scarce and common – excellent in Sept / October
Birds of prey such as Osprey, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Kestrel, Goshawk all depending on season
Waders and a wealth of estuary species.
Some Winter walk ideas
Dark Bellied Brent Geese at Crofty
General wildlife and History walks
Grey Atlantic Seals
Birds of prey
Ideal season for Birdwatching skills and field craft Tutorials
Some Spring walk ideas
General wildlife and History walks
Evening Nightjars in the Black Mountains
Atlantic Grey Seals
Birds of prey
Welsh woodland specialties can be combined with searches for Dotteral in the Black Mountains in early May.
Dark Green Frittilary at Rhossilli in June 2017.
Butterflies and Ordata
Coastal and Estuary Walks
Spring birdsong tutorial walks
Family and Group walks
Some Summer walk ideas
Grey Atlantic Seals Choughs and Harbour Porpoise
Evening Nightjars in the Black Mountains.
Birds of Prey
The rare gorgeous Blue crane in Namibia at Ethosha National park.
I am available for fully illustrated entertaining talks on birds on the following countries: Namibia, Costa Rica, Migration through the Straits of Gibraltar, Argentina, Chile, Germany,, Gower.
Bird watching courses or tutorials
Available for full or half day field trips to learn and coach about birds and their identification. Any level of expertise catered for. contact me to discuss your requirements