Skip to content

Wildlife on the Llŷn Peninsula

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) adult in August, rolling over backwards in Moray Firth, Inverness-shire, Scotland, UK
Adult bottlenose dolphin rolling over backwards | © John MacPherson / 2020VISION /

Llŷn has a unique microclimate, benefiting from the gulf stream, bringing warmer sea temperatures and weather. This makes it a perfect home for unusual habitats and fascinating wildlife. Discover the best places in Llŷn to go birdwatching or catch sight of your favourite coastal creatures, from seal spotting to dolphin encounters.

Seal spotting on the Llŷn Peninsula

The Llŷn peninsula is an important refuge for grey seals, which are larger and more robust than their relatives, the common seal. Approximately 5,000 grey seals live in the water around West Wales and can be seen all year round. Pups can be seen from September to December.

Where to spot seals

Some of the best places to catch a glimpse of grey seals include Porthdinllaen, Enlli and the Coast Path around Porth Meudwy. Large breeding colonies are located at both St Tudwal’s Islands and Bardsey Island, with smaller, isolated groups living along the northern coast, such as the small number found near Porthdinllaen.

Seal-watching tips

Keep your distance from the seals and don't disturb them. Use binoculars to get a great view of cows and their calves during the pupping season. Seal-watching is quite easy as seals are generally quite cumbersome and slow while on land. Just find a good vantage point and sit still.

Find out more grey seal spotting tips

Wildlife watching with bottlenose dolphins

The Welsh coast is home to one of only two semi-resident UK populations of bottlenose dolphins. If you walk along the coastal path or shore for any length of time you stand a chance of seeing these wonderful creatures all year round.

Where to spot bottle-nose dolphins

Hotspots include many sightings off St Tudwal’s Islands, Cilan and off Bardsey Island. You may be lucky enough to spot a ‘super pod’, when hundreds of dolphins gather together in warm summers to hunt shoals of small fish. In 2005 the Seawatch Trust sighted a pod of dolphins two thousand strong in Cardigan Bay.

Other marine mammals around the peninsula

A smaller relative of the dolphin, porpoises are more often seen in shallower water closer to shore in small groups of up to 10. They’re much less acrobatic than dolphins and don’t leave the water, just breaking the surface with their fins. Risso dolphins or Atlantic white-sided dolphins occasionally venture into the local waters. There have also been sightings of whales, mainly pilot and minke whales, recorded in the south west of the area.

Grey seal in July at Gull Rock, Roseland, Cornwall
A grey seal in the summer | © National Trust Images/Harry Davies

Birdwatching in Llŷn

Beginner or experienced, a walk in the Llŷn countryside will reward you with a wide diversity of habitats and special scenery that makes this peninsula an ideal place for birdwatching. The rocky cliffs and offshore islands are important nesting sites for many birds and the complex ecology and land forms bring together a great variety of species from choughs and peregrine falcons to fulmars, puffins and Manx shearwater.

Choughs at Pen-y-Cil

The chough is the rarest member of the crow family and its Welsh name, brân goesgoch, literally means red-legged crow. There is only a small population of these birds in the United Kingdom, with three-quarters of the UK's population living in Wales. Pen-y-Cil, located at the southern tip of the peninsula is one of the most dramatic places to see these special birds and their wonderful aerial displays.

Nesting seabirds at Carreg y Llam

The ledges of the 100m high Carreg y Llam near Pistyll are bustling with seabirds during the breeding season in spring and early summer and it’s one of the most important seabird nesting sites in North Wales. Large numbers of guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes make the most of the inaccessible slopes to lay their eggs, spending the rest of the year out at sea.

Porth Meudwy birds

A visit to this special valley and cove will reward you with a fascinating range of resident and migrant birds and loads of other wildlife to enjoy in the area. It has been known to welcome rare vagrants too, including a Ruppell's warbler and red-eyed vireo.

Bardsey Island birds

Lying off the tip of the peninsula, Bardsey Island is the only accredited bird observatory in Wales. The nationally important numbers of Manx shearwater that breed here in the summer are one of the reasons why this special place is a Special Protection Area. There is a breeding colony of 10 to 16 thousand birds on the island.

On the east side of the island’s mountain there are 11 species of seabird including kittiwakes, storm petrels, razorbills, and guillemots. The island’s other breeding birds include oystercatchers, wheatears, little owls and long-eared owls.

Paul Lewis, National Trust warden looking through binoculars over the Llŷn Peninsula, Gwynedd, North Wales.
Birdwatching on the Llŷn Peninsula | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Dunes, heathland and woodland birds

Heathland and coastal dunes are home to stonechats, goldfinches and sand martins. You may spot the ever-present predators, such as kestrels and buzzards, watching over proceedings. Away from the coastline, you can catch a glimpse of greater-spotted and green woodpeckers, even jays and nuthatches. Local rivers are a great place to spot dippers.

Migratory birds

The Llŷn Peninsula is an important route for many migratory such as large numbers of willow warbler, chiffchaff and goldcrest, which arrive in spring and autumn. Regular migrants also include pied and spotted flycatchers, 10 species of warbler, three species of wagtail, six species of thrush and 11 species of finch.

Rare visitors to Llŷn

The list of species that have made it to Llŷn include the eyebrowed thrush, Radde’s warbler and the Isabelline wheatear from Asia. Black-browed albatross from the southern oceans and dark-eyed Junco, yellow warbler, Sora rail, American bittern, American robin and the song sparrow from America have also been seen. Bardsey also has the only record of a summer tanager on this side of the Atlantic.

View of Powis Castle, perched above its terraced gardens, Powys, Wales, in autumn.

Discover more in Wales

A Celtic land with an industrial past steeped in myth, legend, poetry and song. Croeso i Gymru.

You might also be interested in

View over Porthor beach in Gwynedd, North Wales

Coasts and beaches in Llŷn 

Learn more about what to see and do on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales, from rock-pooling at Porthor to exploring culture and history at Porth y Swnt.

Plas yn Rhiw house and garden on a sunny day with the bay in the background

Places to visit in Llŷn 

Discover more about the ecomuseum on the Llŷn Peninsula. Operating in partnership with seven of Llyn Peninsula’s heritage organisations, it aims to increase cultural tourism.

Grey seal pup on a pebble beach at Treginnis, Pembrokeshire

Nature and wildlife to spot in Wales 

Have a nature adventure in Wales and discover all kinds of wildlife, from the famous otters of Bosherston Lakes in Pembrokeshire, to the red squirrels of Plas Newydd in North Wales.

A view towards Porthdinllaen, a small fishing village with a few white-painted cottages sitting beneath a grassy cliff on the Llŷn Peninsula, Wales. There's a few fishing boats in the water and people are walking on the cliff above the village.

Visiting Porthdinllaen 

A picture-perfect fishing village perched on a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, Porthdinllaen has a rich history, and spectacular views and wildlife abound.

Two people are walking two small dogs along Llanbedrog beach, a wide stretch of sand lined with colourful beach huts with tall, dark green trees directly behind them.

Visiting Llanbedrog beach 

Visit Llanbedrog a long stretch of sandy coast with colourful beach huts ideal for families. A popular destination near Pwllheli on the Llŷn Peninsula.

Several sculptures of simplified figures on display in a darkened room with a blueish hue in 'The Deep' exhibition at Porth y Swnt, Aberdaron, Gwynedd.

Things to do in Porth y Swnt 

Nestled in the heart of Aberdaron, Porth y Swnt is a visitor centre like no other. It offers an introduction to the history and culture of Llŷn through audio, videos, sculptures and artwork.