Berthlwyd's wonderful wildflowers

A beautiful summer’s day at Berthlwyd Farm

A beautiful summer’s day at Berthlwyd Farm

One of our most important farms for its conservation value, Berthlwyd is home to truly wonderful wildflower hay meadows. Traditional farming methods mean that each spring the fields burst into an array of vivid colour and support a huge variety of wildlife.

The Tarell Valley's veteran trees

A precious and increasingly rare habitat, our semi-ancient woodlands are a haven for wildlife. Clinging on at the foot of the Brecon Beacons, these trees have lived for hundreds of years and are home to rare fungi and invertebrates dependent on them for their survival.

Henrhyd's magical microclimate

Henrhyd Falls is the tallest waterfall in south Wales © N McAllister 2010

Henrhyd Falls is the tallest waterfall in south Wales

The heavily-wooded gorge where Henrhyd Falls tumbles down the 90ft (27m) drop on the Nant Llech river is a haven for wonderful water-loving wildlife. Graigllech Wood, which surrounds the Nant Llech and Henrhyd Falls, is a broadleaved semi-natural woodland rich in locally rare and scarce ferns and a variety of mosses and liverworts, including species that are nationally scarce and threatened in Europe.

Artic alpine plants of the Beacons

Purple saxifrage clinging to a rock face  © National Trust

Purple saxifrage clinging to a rock face

The craggy outcrops and steep slopes of the Brecon Beacons might seem inhospitable, but they're home to important and often rare Arctic-alpine plants. Clinging to the edge of cliffs, the beautiful purple saxifrage can be found, along with northern bedstraw, serrated wintergreen, dwarf willow and a range of hawkweeds not widely found in Wales. The aptly named bog orchid has also been recorded in wet flushes below the main escarpment of the Beacons.

Wildlife in the Tarell Valley

Dingles in the Tarell Valley are protected from grazing sheep with fencing © National Trust

Dingles in the Tarell Valley are protected from grazing sheep with fencing

The woodlands and river running through the valley provide a wealth of habitats. In spring, bluebells and wood anemone carpet the ground of wooded dingles, cuckoos call across the valley and swifts, swallows and warblers arrive from the south. In winter, flocks of redwing and fieldfare feed in the fields. Throughout the year, the Tarell is home to otters and dippers.

Heathland - the jewel of the mountains

The wonderful wildlife-rich habitat of the heathland stretching across the mountains and moorlands of the Brecon Beacons and brings this wide, open landscape to life. From the soaring song of the skylark to the delicious deep purple bilberry, see what you'll uncover.

Red kite

A red kite soars above visitors © NTPL/John Miller

A red kite soars above visitors

The red kite is unmistakeable with its forked tailed, reddish brown body, white patches under the wings and silvery head. They're agile birds and stay in the air for many hours with hardly a beat of their wings. You can see them regularly across the Brecon Beacons as they ride the thermal currents searching for food such as carrion and small mammals.

Meadow pipit

Meadow pipit looking for lunch © NTPL/Barry Boswell

Meadow pipit looking for lunch

The meadow pipit is the most common bird found in the uplands during the summer months. It looks similar to the skylark with a streaky brown body and white outer tail feathers. It's a ground-nesting bird and feeds mainly on insects, though it will also eat the seeds of grasses, sedges and heather, as well as the berries of crowberry.

Red grouse

Red grouse hiding in long grass © NTPL/Barry Boswell

Red grouse hiding in long grass

The red grouse is a reddish, brown-coloured bird with a patch of red above its eyes. It has distinctive pale feathers on its legs and feet. They're a ground nesting bird and live in the heather on mountain moorland, such as the Gyrn all year round. They eat the young shoots of heather, seeds and berries. If walking close to one on the Beacons, you may see it as it suddenly rockets up out of the heather and flys off with fast-whirring wingbeats.


The call of the skylark is a true sound of summer in the uplands © NTPL/North East Wildlife

The call of the skylark is a true sound of summer in the uplands

The skylark is a small streaky-brown bird with a white-sided tail and a small crest on its head which can be raised when the bird is excited or alarmed. It's renowned for its display flight high up in the air, hanging almost motionless, whilst making its distinctive call. It's a true sound of summer in the uplands of the Brecon Beacons, but its recent population decline across the UK has been dramatic.


Raven looking out over the countryside © NTPL/Barry Boswell

Raven looking out over the countryside

The largest member of the crow family, ravens are normally solitary but are sometimes seen in pairs. Ravens are confident, inquisitive birds. In flight they're buoyant and graceful, flipping over and gliding upside down. They mainly eat carrion but will also hunt insects and amphibians. You might be able to see them soaring over the peaks of the Beacons.


The powerful peregrine falcon in flight © NTPL/northeastwildlife.co.uk

The powerful peregrine falcon in flight

The peregrine is a large and powerful falcon and is swift and agile in flight, chasing prey through the air. The uplands of the UK are its stronghold and the rocky outcrops of the Brecon Beacons are a great place to see them throughout the year, though some birds move away from the uplands in autumn. Its long, broad, pointed wings, blue-grey back, white throat and obvious black 'moustache' make it easily identifiable from other birds of prey found in the Brecon Beacons.


A keen eye is required to see merlin as it hunts silently © NTPL/northeastwildife.co.uk

A keen eye is required to see merlin as it hunts silently

The merlin is the UK's smallest bird of prey and is a dynamic, chunky falcon of open ground. Its small size means it can hover and hang in the breeze as it pursues its prey, which mainly consists of small birds. In spring they head for the uplands such as the Brecon Beacons, where they stay for the summer before returning to open lowland and coastal areas. Their population is thinly scattered and is still recovering from a sharp decline at the end of the last century.


Dippers are easily recognised by their plump dark bodies and white 'bibs' © NTPL/northeastwildlife.co.uk

Dippers are easily recognised by their plump dark bodies and white 'bibs'

The dipper is an unusual bird in that its quite at home swimming, diving or simply walking into and under water in search of food. With a brown head and belly, black back and white chest and throat, it's easily identifiable, especially when perched on a rock in the middle of water, bobbing up and down. They love rivers in upland areas, so the River Tarell in the Tarell Valley is a great place to spot them.


Listen out for the cuckoo's call in the Tarell Valley during early summer © NTPL/N.E.Wildlife

Listen out for the cuckoo's call in the Tarell Valley during early summer

The cuckoo is an increasingly-rare summer migrant known for its distinctive call. They arrive in the UK in late March and April and leave in mid-July to August. They're well-known brood parasites, with females laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, especially meadow pipits and dunnocks. Their call can often be heard throughout the Tarell Valley during the summer months.