If you’re like us, your love of the natural world has increased ten-fold since Planet Earth II began.
For those of us who don’t have the budget or time to go on safari in Botswana or camp out in Yellowstone National Park for three months, those resourceful folk at Premier Inn have come up with a "big five" that you can tick off closer to home. Yes, you guessed it: in Wales.
With its incredible coastline, and abundance of national parks and nature reserves, Wales is a brilliant destination for wildlife lovers. Check out the Welsh big five according to Premier Inn below.
Have you spotted any other winter wildlife in Wales? Tweet a picture to @RTTrav.
1. Grey seals in Caemes Head
West Wales is home to about 5,000 Atlantic grey seals and one of the best places to see them is the highest sea cliff in Wales – Caemes Head in Pembrokeshire. Between August and December, the nearby pebble beach is an important breeding site for Atlantic grey seals and, during winter, you’ll be able to see up to 200 seals at any one time. During pupping season, it’s important to never try to interact with the pups or adults, even if the pup seems abandoned, as its mum may just be out at sea.
Wild ponies in Snowdonia
These majestic mountain ponies of Snowdonia are said to date back to around 5,000 BC and nowadays there are around 200 left still roaming the rugged slopes. In autumn you can see the ponies grazing throughout Snowdonia in preparation for the cold winter months ahead. Although some ponies are quite curious when it comes to humans, it’s important to remember they’re wild, so it’s best to admire them from afar and not get too close.
3. Starlings in Newport Wetlands
Every year from October onwards, huge flocks of starlings can be seen (and heard) in the sky as they form shape shifting black clouds. Around 50,000 starlings can be seen swooping and soaring across the sky before they return for the night in the reed beds at the RSPB Newport Wetlands Reserve in South Wales. When combined with an impressive sunset, the display is simply breathtaking.
4. Red squirrels in Anglesey
Grey squirrels were first introduced into the UK in around 1870 and thanks to their increased ability to store fat, the indigenous red squirrel has been on the decline ever since. Sadly, in some areas, our red-headed native became completely extinct but, thanks to some brilliant initiatives, the red squirrel is now making a comeback. Newborough Forest in Anglesey is one of the most important red squirrel conservation sites in the whole of the UK and January is one of the best times to see them in the forest.
5. Fallow deer in Margam Park
Margam Country Park estate covers an impressive 850 acres and is home to a 300-strong herd of fallow deer all year round. In October and November it’s mating season and you could be lucky enough to see the bucks clashing antlers with each other to assert their dominance and win the right to breed with the does. Even if you miss this spectacle, just seeing the herd on a beautifully crisp winter’s day is pretty magical.
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