Anglesey - Nature Reserves
Cors Erddreiniog National Nature Reserve, Benllech, Anglesey
Cors Erddreiniog is the largest of the Anglesey fens. This extensive reserve is located about 3 miles west of Benllech on the north-east side of the island, with the small villages of Capel Coch to the west and Brynteg to the east. Because this type of threatened wetland is so rare, and because of the incredible range of wildlife it plays host to, the reserve has a number of designations at hand to protect it.
A varied terrain means there are extensive areas of reed bed, as well as heathland, woodland, and small lakes. Although the paths throughout the reserve are largely level, the woodland section can get quite steep. A fully accessible boardwalk runs right around the reed beds for some 1000 yards, finishing at a bird hide overlooking a freshwater lake.
The main access to the reserve is via a very narrow track from Capel Coch, which is some 5 miles north of Llangefni between Tregaian and Maenaddwyn; limited roadside parking is available in the village.
Cors Goch National Nature Reserve, Benllech, Anglesey
The Reserve is one of several lowland fens on Anglesey and lies in the bed of an ancient glacial lake. Like the other wetlands on Anglesey, Cors Goch is an outlying refuge for many plants more often associated with the fens of East Anglia.
A path runs the length of Cors Goch for about a mile and there is a boardwalk through the fen. Travelling north of Menai Bridge on the A5025, take the left turn to Llanbedrgoch at the junction about 1.5 miles north of Pentraeth; cars can be parked in a lay-by about 1 mile beyond the village, close to the reserve track.
Cors Bedeilio National Nature Reserve, Llangefni, Anglesey
Cors Bodeilio is a nationally important nature reserve which lies in a shallow limestone valley between Llangefni and Pentraeth; visitors can enjoy various views of the reed beds from a fully accessible boardwalk, which stretches for some 700 yards right round the site.
The reserve lies to the north-west of Menai Bridge off the road between Pentraeth and Llangefni, with the entrance being about a mile west of Pentraeth.
Cefni Reservoir, Llangefni, Anglesey
A secluded reservoir, Cefni is sheltered by coniferous forests and lies 1.5 miles north of Llangefni to the west of the B5111. Footpaths from the car park follow the north-west and south-east shores of the reservoir.
Red admirals, ringlet and other butterflies frequent the forest rides. The surrounding woods resonate to the sound of warblers in summer. Crossbills and siskins are present all year round and migrant hawker and golden ringed dragonflies are regulars. Bird hides provide close views of whooper swan, tufted duck, pochard, grebe and ruddy duck in winter.
Llyn Alaw Reservoir, Llanerchymedd, Anglesey
The Llyn Alaw reservoir lies amongst Anglesey’s rolling pastures and is accessible along flower lined country lanes to the north-west of Llanerchymedd. A Visitor Centre is open all year from 8.00 to dusk with an exhibition featuring natural history, fishing and the water supply from the reservoir.
A grass path follows most of the lake perimeter and links with circular paths on farmland; wild flowers, dragonflies and butterflies are abundant in summer. Llyn Alaw has a landscaped picnic site and wildlife pond and two bird hides which give views of autumn flocks of mallard and wigeon and smaller numbers of shoveler, goldeneye and whooper swans. Autumn is the best time for flocks of curlew and golden plover on the mud banks.
South Stack Cliffs RSPB Reserve, Holyhead
South Stack Cliffs is about three miles out of Holyhead and the Reserve is signposted from the centre of Holyhead on brown road signs - it has colonies of guillemots, razorbills, puffins.
Visitors in the spring can marvel at the wildflowers including kidney vetch, thrift and scurvey grass amid the cliff top grassland and heathland. Particularly eye-catching is the spring squill, which carpets areas of heathland that have recently been burnt. Look out for stonechats and linnets perched on top of bushes and listen out for the first skylarks. As spring takes hold, watch out for choughs and ravens collecting material to build their nests and don't miss the breeding seabirds crammed onto the narrow ledges on the cliffs.
Ellins Tower provides excellent views of the seabird city in the summer with guillemots, razorbills, puffins, fulmars and gulls. Try to spot razorbill and guillemot chicks on the narrow cliff ledges, but don't leave it too late as these seabirds will leave for the open ocean in July. Listen for the distinctive calls of choughs; they will be active gathering food for their ever growing young. Look out for the endemic spatulate fleawort amongst the cliff top grassland where you might be lucky and see an adder basking in the sun. Search out the rare silver-studded blue butterflies amid the shorter heathland.
In the autumn, the heathland is ablaze with purple and yellow flowers and look out for the acrobatics of the noisy families of choughs; keep an eye out for porpoises and gannets feeding in the tidal races.
In winter, keep a close eye on the roving flocks of starlings - the resident peregrines certainly will and you might be witness to an attack! Look out for flocks of choughs and the call of ravens during their tumbling displays.
The RSPB reserve is open all year-round. The Visitor Centre, with shop and cafe, is open from 10am to 5pm daily (except Christmas Day), and Ellin's Tower Seabird Centre is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Easter to September.
Valley Wetlands RSPB Reserve, Anglesey
Reed-fringed lakes at the Valley Wetlands site give the opportunity to see wildfowl all year round; tufted ducks, pochards, shovelers, gadwalls and grebes all breed here.
In spring, visitors can watch breeding waterfowl display and listen to the songs of reedbed birds.
Early summer is a good time to visit when the reedbeds come alive with reed and sedge warblers. You might be lucky to catch a glimpse of other reedbed birds like water rails, marsh harriers and Cetti's warblers.
See if you can spot young waterfowl around the lakes and a small but noisy colony of black-headed gulls; watch out for dragonflies and butterflies.
Look out in the autumn for migrant birds such as harriers, terns, swallows and martins and for numbers of wintering wildfowl, including wigeons and goldeneyes.
In winter, enjoy rafts of waterfowl, especially in cold weather; check the flocks for less common birds such as scaups, long-tailed ducks, goosanders and red-breasted mergansers and look out for a sighting of the rare, shy bittern.
To reach the reserve, travelling west on the A55, exit at the junction after Bryngwran signposted Bodedern, left at the roundabout and follow the signs for RAF Valley. Continue through a small village, pass a lake and the reserve car park is on the right.
Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve, Anglesey
At the south-western point of Anglesey, guarding the southern opening of the Menai Strait, Newborough Warren is one of the finest coastal sand dune systems in Britain, with huge expanses of mobile and fixed dunes. The reserve boasts important geological features such as the pre-Cambrian rocks (some of the oldest in the country) of which Ynys Llanddwyn is formed and the pillow lavas that form the approach to that island. Ynys Llanddwyn is tidal and is cut off for a few hours each day. There is a good network of footpaths and tracks (though most are of soft sand) and several walks through the forest to the coast. There are car parks for Newborough Forest and also for Newborough Warren, just south-east of the village.