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Wye Nature

Fischotter by Alexander Leisser

The river Wye and Wye basin is home to a huge variety of wildlife from aquatic life through to mammal and plant. Much of the Wye Valley is designated an SSSI or Site of Special Scientific Interest in recognition of its sensitivity and its need for preservation. We're enthralled by the small to the larger presence in, for example, a veteran Oak. Browse the page for a snap shot of the natural world amid the Wye and where best to enjoy it. 

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Fischotter

Commonly known as just an Otter these Otters can be found all over Europe and in the Wye. We've seen Otter in Herefordshire and up at the Elan confluence. It's habitat are shallow rivers with overgrown banks. The otter eats fish although it will eat almost anything from Water voles, rabbits, snails, ducks and carrion. Young animals are blind at birth and weigh about 80 to 100 grams.

American Mink below are also widespread throughout the Wye basin. They are a real threat to Water Vole below. Click the link for more details.

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American Mink by Peter Trimming

The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) recognizes the Wye as a precious habitat.

Atlantic Salmon

The Wye was once one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world. Atlantic Salmon migrate from the sea to breed in the tributaries of the Wye. Spawning takes place in a gravel depression called a Redd. They have a homing instinct that draws them back to spawn in their birth stream after 1-4 years in the sea. Some of the tributaries they head for in the Wye are the Irfon, Marteg where this picture was taken, the Tarennig & Bidno and Ithon. They've been found in the Lugg and Arrow but not all the way up because of barriers. In Mid November they can be seen leaping up the river Marteg. To visit check out details here.

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Video Screen Print. Taken from a donated video by Dewy Roberts. Salmon on the Marteg

The Water Vole below is predated upon by the non native American Mink. Found along our waterways and in lakes such as Llangorse they're similar-looking to the brown rat. 

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Water Vole by Peter Trimming

The fastest bird in the sky 

Peregrine Falcon

The Wye Valley is home to the Peregrine Falcon the fastest bird in the sky. They have been measured at speeds above 83.3 m/s (186 mph) when diving. The falcon feeds almost exclusively on medium-sized birds such as Pigeons and Doves. Typically, the bird nests on cliffs in a shallow scrape on a ledge. The female usually lays 3 or 4 eggs. They are slightly smaller than a chicken egg, and are mottled with a dark, reddish-brown pigment. Incubation of the eggs is about 33 days whereupon the chicks will stay in the nest for about a further 6 weeks. The best place to spot them in the Wye Valley is from Yat Rock.

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Peregrine Falcon by: US Fish & Wildlife

Grey Heron are shy birds & are common throughout the habitats of the Wye.

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Grey Heron by Ardea cinerea

Nature can play with sunlight

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Kingfisher by: Charles J Sharp

Common Kingfisher

The Kingfisher is widely known but rarely seen by most. It is our mascot and logo. The key to seeing a Kingfisher is to notice its sound. Once aware you'll see them regularly. The Kingfisher is a tropical migrant widespread throughout the Wye catchment. They measure from 16-17cm and nest in deep burrows in river Banksides. They hunt by diving into the water for small fish, such as minnows, as well as invertebrates like dragonfly nymphs. They breed from March to May and have 2-3 broods with seven eggs in each. Interesting fact: Their turquoise color is the result of sunlight and not the pigment in its feathers.

The Hobby, which is small can be illusive because they are fast in addition and there are not many of them. The picture below of a Hobby chick was taken by Mark Jickells in the Lugg Valley. For the video to this sighting (Hobby Amazing Birds Of Prey) click the Youtube Icon below

  • Hobby Raptor
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"Choose only one master—nature."

Rembrandt

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Red Kite
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White Clawed Crayfish
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Grey Patridge
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Muntjac

The Wye Valley is said to have been instrumental in saving the Red Kite population in the UK. They're a majestic bird that are now common place in the skies above the Wye. White Clawed Crayfish are very rare but have been recorded in the Ennig, Clyro Brook (good population) and the Llynfi among a few others. The introduction of invasive non-native species of crayfish has led to the 50-80% decline of White-clawed Crayfish. Keep an eye out for Grey Partridge in our valleys and vales, which are endangered. If fortunate enough to come across a nest in the ground their eggs are a light colored brown as featured above in the Frome Valley in Herefordshire. Muntjac were brought from China to the UK in the early 20th century. They are expanding their territory and can be seen in deciduous or coniferous forests or even in Urban areas. We have seen them in the Wye Valley and Hereford City. Mind you they are shy and illusive. 

Images: Red Kite by Mike Prince, White Clawed Crayfish by Wikimedia, Partridge Eggs by Mark Jickells, Muntjac by Gailhampshire

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Water Crowfoot

The Cambrian Mountains are said to be the last wilderness in Wales. Home to the rivers Elan, Irfon, Bidno, Tarenneg and Marteg that feed the Wye, which also starts in the mountains it's one of the best places to see the Milky Way and to photograph it. 

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Image by: RamiAubourg

Other Wildlife to Look Our For

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Wild Boar
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Lesser Horse-shoe Bat
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Roa Deer
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Mute Swan

The Wye Valley is also home to the Wild Boar who were controversially reintroduced to the UK after being absent for centuries. Look out for uprooted and disturbed soil, which are signs of wild boar presence. The greatest concentration in Europe of Lesser Horseshoe Bats, a quarter of the UK’s population, is found in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley area. If out Wild camping or walking at dusk in woodland spot them feeding along woodland edges. The top spot to see them is Puzzle Wood in the Forest of Dean. Roa Deer are our native deer and can be seen in woodland up and down the Wye Valley. Both sexes have a white rump with no visible tail apart from the Females who will exhibit a small ‘tush’ or tuft of hair similar to a tail at the base of the rump patch during the winter. The rut, or breeding season, occurs between mid-July to mid-August. They're active throughout any 24 hour period but look out for them at dawn and dusk, which is their peak time of activity. We had to mention the Mute Swan - what a bird to see on the Wye or its tributaries. Mute Swans form long-lasting pair bonds. Their reputation for monogamy along with their elegant white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures.

Images: Wild Boar Wikimedia, Lesser Horseshoe Bat by Wikimedia, Roa Deer by Clément Bardot, Mute Swan by Mark Jickells

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European Adder by: Thomas Brown

The Adder is the UK's only venomous snake. Shy it can be spotted basking in the sunshine in the Wye Basins woodland glades and heathlands.

For nature reserves check out the list in Wye Valley Inspiration