Welcome to the Dyfi Biosphere, one of only three areas in the UK to be recogised by Unesco for its incredible wildlife biodiversity.
For the visitor and wildlife lover, that makes a trip to this valley in the heart of mid Wales a truly tantalising prospect.
Dyfi boasts rich coastal waters, saltmarsh and peat bogs – a rich variety of habitats that attract many different species.
You can’t experience the whole Dyfi Biosphere in a day, but you can visit three of its core nature reserves. Each sits in a spectacular landscape, and is easily reached by car or a combination of bike and train. And each has a visitor centre staffed by friendly wardens.
Start by popping into the Dyfi Osprey Project, managed by Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust. Ospreys first attempted to nest here in 2007, and four years later, the first Dyfi osprey chicks hatched, to instant stardom. They are expected back from Africa, where they over-winter, this month (April).
Just down the A487 is the RSPB Reserve at Ynys-hir, which should ring bells if you’re a fan of BBC Springwatch – cameras will roll there for the third time this June. Ynys-hir has a labyrinth of paths and hides among bluebell woods, saltmarsh and wetlands. In an established reserve like this, even novice birdwatchers will spot species that are shy elsewhere. Reed warblers accompanied me along the sedge, tree creepers clung to bark, and a goldcrest sat in brambles by the path.
The Dyfi National Nature Reserve at Ynyslas Estuary, sand dunes and one of the largest lowland raised bogs in Western Europe, all managed by the Countryside Council for Wales. The dunes are rich in butterflies, birds and reptiles, marsh orchids in June, and fungi in autumn. Call the wardens in advance if you’d like to visit the peat bog; ospreys might be the big local celebrities but in this intricate mire, the goings-on of sundews, raft spiders, and rosy marsh moths are just as intriguing. Mae Biosffer Dyfi werth y byd – the Dyfi Biosphere is indeed, a special place.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Dyfi Osprey Project and RSPB Ynys-hir are both on the A487 near Machynlleth.
The Dyfi National Nature Reserve at Ynyslas is three miles from Borth at the mouth of the river Dyfi.
FIND OUT MORE
The Dyfi Osprey Project
Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve, Glandyfi, Machynlleth
Open April to 10 September, 10am-5pm. Free entry.
Eglwysfach, Machynlleth SY20 8TA
Open every day except Christmas, dawn till dusk. Visitor centre 9am-5pm, Apr-Oct, 10am-4pm, November to March. Free entry to RSPB members; non-members £5.
Ynyslas, Borth, Ceredigion
Visitor centre open daily from Easter weekend to September 30, 9.30am to 5pm. Events most Sundays. Free entry.