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Birds and things with wings

Gower and the Burry Estuary are a vital resource for birdlife. The saltmarshes, mudflats and dunes of the Burry Inlet support a wide variety of over wintering wildfowl and waders. The National Wetland Centre for Wales is located here and the local bird-watching hides provide great opportunities to spot a vast variety of wetland birds including oystercatchers, curlews, pintails, dunlins, black-tailed godwits, shelducks and redshanks. Birds of prey can also be sighted, including merlins, peregrines, migrating ospreys, which sometimes fly over, and wintering marsh harriers.

The coastline of Gower is abundant with bird life and the cliffs along the south coast of Gower support breeding sanderlings, cormorants, shags, fulmars, pipits and gulls, amongst others. Choughs, with their distinctive red legs and beaks, also use the cliffs along the south coast for habitat and breeding. They can often be found along the cliff tops during winter using their beaks to dig and probe for food.

Inland there are lots more birds to see – there are kingfishers on the rivers, woodpeckers in the woodlands and a whole range of birds of prey stalking the farmland for food. Look out for kestrels, sparrowhawks, red kites and buzzards during the day, whilst at night you might catch a glimpse of an owl on the wing, or hear its distinctive hoot.

Head to Oxwich National Nature Reserve for a chance to spot the rare cetti’s warbler and sedge warbler. The firecrest, one of the UKs smallest birds, can also be found here.

Gower is also home to numerous butterflies. Mumbles Hill, Oxwich, Whiteford Burrows, Welsh Moor and Llanrhidian are all important breeding habitats for species including the small blue, grayling, brown argus, green hairstreak, marbled white, marsh fritillary, small pearl-bordered fritillary and silver washed fritillary.

Once the butterflies have gone to bed, the moths come out and there are plenty on Gower! At one location in Rhossili over 200 different species of moth have been recorded, that’s nearly 10% of all UK moth species in one location. Overton Mere is one of only three locations in the UK to be home to the silky wave moth.

Other wings are also beating at night. Look and listen out for the many different species of bat that can be found here, including greater and lesser horseshoe bats, pipistrelle, noctule, natterer’s, dauberton’s and whiskered.