Throughout the year here at Gwalia you can see some beautiful and wonderful wildlife. We’ve been keeping track of what we see month by month to give you an idea of what might be around when you visit. Glamping and Camping are brilliant ways to see the wildlife as you’re outside for so much of the day. Dawn and dusk, in particular, are often wonderful times to observe and listen.
This page is an ongoing project! If you visit, please let us know what you have seen and we can keep updating it!
Throughout the year we are regularly visited by Badgers, Red Kites, Buzzards, and pairs of Ravens doing acrobatics overhead. Other common birds include Blackbird, Thrush, Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie and Pigeon. We have smaller birds – Robin, Tits (Blue, Great, Coal and the occasional Long Tailed Tit), Chaffinch, Sparrow, Dunnock, Goldfinch. The cabin is an excellent place to watch Treecreeper – they like the trees on the island. There are Pheasant too, which are quite dramatic but not properly wild, they are released for hunting a few miles away but seem to enjoy hiding out at Gwalia.
We also have Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Jay (Amy’s favourite) all year. The best time to see the Woodpeckers is in the spring and summer though they will feed off the bird table in winter. In the spring listen out for their tap-tap-tapping on the trees.
We have Grey Heron here but they are shy. Keep very quiet approaching the lake and you might spot one. Woodcock are here but also shy. We occasionally see them by accidentally flushing them out from marsh land beyond the top lake.
Last year Olivia saw a Goldcrest at the far lake which was quite exciting and unusual here. The Tawny Owl is the one we hear most though we have also seen Barn Owl too.
This year we had a visit from Grey Wagtail.
March is a busy month on the lakes – we saw wild ducks (Mallard), Canada Geese, and a Moorhen for the first time ever who looked like she might nest but has since disappeared. Around the property we saw Robin, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, all building nests. We had Bullfinch here too but they seem to have departed this year.
Nearby we saw Wild Hare and Rabbits and of course it’s lambing season so lots of baby sheep (not very wild, but very cute!)
In March the Frogs, Toads and Newts get busy spawning in our ponds and lakes so it’s the best time to see them as they all seem to appear from nowhere!
March can also be a good time for Badgers as the adolescents are ejected from their family units and so go “a-wandering”.
We might start hearing Cuckoos in April. We have noticed a decline over the years so to hear one now is often an exciting delight rather than the continuous (and slightly irritating?) noise I remember as a child. They are notoriously difficult to spot though so keep your eyes peeled.
When the weather warms up in April we start to see Bats at dusk. Dee gets particularly excited by the bats. We aren’t experts, Dee was given a bat-listening device for Christmas so if there are bats around come and see her and she might take you to listen and see if we can identify which bats we have. We’ve just erected some bat nesting boxes – keep and eye out and see if they are in use yet.
In April all of the pond-life seems to come alive. See Dragon-fly Larvae, Damselfly-Larvae, Tadpoles (newt, frog and toad) along with lots of other creepy crawlies in the water that we’re yet to identify. We have a pond-life book available – maybe you can help us out with identifying some of these little critters?
Redstarts may begin nesting.
May brings excitement to Gwalia in the form of the Flycatchers’ arrival. Last year we had Pied Flycatchers around and also (extremely shy) Spotted Flycatchers nested in our shed.
Butterflies, Dragonflies, Damselflies and lot of moths start getting lively. If you’re keen on Butterflies and Moths we’d love to hear what you spotted – we seem to have a great variety but are not that good at identification yet. Fabulous Goldfinches are seen and the Swallows arrive. Black Caps occasionally too.
Everything is in full swing by June. So much pond life and bird life to see. All the spring arrivals are here by now and there are lots of opportunities to see the chicks fledging from the nests. We have boxes around the place – keep your eyes peeled!
By June or July you can watch the development of the Tadpoles into Baby Frogs. If you’re lucky enough to be here when the baby frogs come out of the water you are in for a treat – they are everywhere, easy for children to pick up and quite adorable. The main difficulty is trying not to tread on them.
Still a great month for a variety of birds, pondlife, bugs and butterflies. Everything is still in bloom. Nesting birds might be having their second sitting of babies in July. Watch out for Flycatcher, Swallow and House Martin young.
The excitement of spring and summer activity is gradually coming to the end but you will still see a host of wildlife and fledglings.
Autumn / Winter
Last year Olivia saw Black Cap in the winter, usually a summer visitor to the UK at Gwalia it’s a winter one! 2014 we had a wild fox in the garden, it’s actually really rare for us to see a fox in the countryside as they are very shy, in fact up until now we’ve never seen one on our land. We’d rather not see them in the garden however as it makes us nervous for the chickens, fortunately the fox left and all the chickens are OK. Winter is a good time to see the badger trails that run through and nearby Gwalia. Also woodcock and many garden birds – blue tits, nuthatches, great tits, coal tits, sparrows, wrens, bullfinches, chaffinches, mistlethrush. The Cabin is the best place at Gwalia to see longtail tits, which are unusual and get us quite excited.
Winter 2015/16 saw a rise in the number of longtail tits who fly around in little gangs and are terribly cute. We also gold crests which is rare for us and quite exciting, along with the wrens they seem to have a had a very good year in 2015. This winter we also saw otters both in our garden and frolicking in the stream next to the Cabin. This was a wonderful sight for us and it was exhilarating to be able to watch them play and feed from just a few metres away.