Guided Wildlife Walks

Come and join Bardsey Bird Observatory staff on a guided wildlife walk and learn about the island and its wildlife, with our local expertise on the array of wildlife to be found here. There are three different walks (see below). 

Everyone is welcome to join us!  

Adult £10 per person
Child £2.50
Under 5 free 

How to book your place on a guided walk

Staying guests
  • A member of Observatory staff will call round to your cottage (usually Sunday evening) to take bookings 
  • There will be a sign at the Observatory giving details of Guided Walk times each week
  • Or call to the Observatory to enquire and book

Day trips 

Come for the day! Bespoke nature walks with a personal guide are available by arrangement, on any day, at a cost of £25 per person, with a minimum fee of £50 (i.e. £50 for one person). 

For information about day boat trips

Message Colin Evans on 07971 769895

Wildlife Walks

We run a guided walk once each week for visitors staying on the island, the exact day varies due the to weather and other commitments. We take a circuit of the middle of the island, normally lasting two or three hours, encompassing the west slope of the mountain, the coast, the central lowlands and bird hotspots such as Pen Cristin, Solfach and The Narrows. It’s a fairly easy walk, and wellies are advisable if it has been wet!

Visitors at the start of the guided walk

 On Pen Cristin having seen the seabirds

 Looking at the Golden-hair Lichen

On the Narrows being shown how to identify immature gulls

What you will see varies widely depending on the time of year, but there are plenty of regular staples like the acrobatic Choughs, and large numbers of Grey Seals loafing on the rocks in Henllwyn. Spring sees the first wild flowers in bloom, and a good chance of migrant birds (too many potential species to mention!) alongside those breeding on the island, which include Wheatears, Stonechats, Peregrines and Ravens. Summer sees the meadows in full bloom, with Butterflies like Green-veined Whites and Small Coppers on the wing as well as uncommon plants including Small Adder’s-tongue Fern, Sharp Rush and Western Clover.

By autumn the main focus is again on birds, however the beautiful Autumn Lady’s-tresses orchid can sometimes bloom in spectacular numbers in August and early September. Migration is in full swing by September, with a good chance of arrivals of migrant warblers like Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Whitethroats, or finches and thrushes in October like Siskins, Chaffinches and Redwings. The list of species we could potentially see is vast, and no two days are alike! Occasionally rare birds like Black-browed Albatross, Citrine Wagtail and Western Bonelli’s Warbler have all been seen in recent years, with some years producing record numbers of “drift migrants” such as Yellow-browed and Icterine Warblers. The chance of seeing a scarcity, or even a major rarity, is higher in September and October than at any other time of year.

Alongside all this excitement, there’s much unique and under-appreciated fauna on the island, such as the rare Golden-hair Lichen. Bardsey is a good spot to find cetaceans, with Risso’s Dolphins frequently recorded in late summer/early autumn and annual but irregular reports of Common Dolphin, and occasionally Harbour Porpoises. Even Minke and Killer Whales have been seen offshore in recent years!

Meet the Manxies walks

From April to August, Bardsey is home to one of the largest colonies of Manx Shearwaters in the world with a staggering 26-30,000 pairs nesting. Ringing studies on Bardsey have recorded the presence of one Shearwater at least 54 years of age, at the time it was last trapped in 2008 it was the oldest living wild bird known to science and entered the Guinness Book of Records! This elegant, oceanic species can often be seen out to sea during the day, riding the wind and banking over waves while it's wingtips almost clip the surf (hence the family name 'Shearwater'). They only visit the land after dark, when the cries of over 50,000 Shearwaters resonate across the island.

Adult Manx Shearwater

Guests waiting for the first shearwaters to arrive at night

Joining the Bird Observatory staff for a night walk (run twice a month, the week before and week of the new moon), you will be able to get up close and personal with this mysterious and charismatic species, as they utilise the cover of darkness to visit their burrows and their chicks. Shearwaters, for all their elegance on the open oceans, are remarkably cumbersome on land. This means that, with a careful and responsible approach, it is possible to get fantastic views of them, and a very rare insight into the lives of one of Britain’s most secretive breeding birds.

Guest holding a shearwater

We begin each walk with a fifteen minute talk and presentation in our information center/gift shop. When possible, we will try and coincide these walks with Storm Petrel ringing during the summer months, giving visitors the chance to see another exclusively nocturnal and incredibly elusive visitor to Bardsey! This walk is only available to guests staying overnight on the island. 

 Listening to the informative talk about the life of a shearwater 

Showing guests a Storm Petrel

Manx Shearwater Chick walks

While the adult Manx Shearwaters feed offshore during the hours of light, their chicks bide away the day in one of thousands of burrows found all across the island. Observatory staff are all qualified and licenced to handle these chicks as part of our ongoing research into Manx Shearwaters, and we are able to offer visitors a rare opportunity to see young shearwaters. Initially, when they hatch in late June, they resemble nothing more than a fluffy grey pom-pom, though soon becoming the size of a football as they get fed by their parents, with the characteristic long bill of a Shearwater, they’re quite a sight! Like our other walks, this one will be run once a week, whenever the weather looks most suitable.

A fluffy shearwater chick in August

A guest with a shearwater chick 

Shearwater chick a few weeks before fledging

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