Bardsey is a National Nature
Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
It is a site which is both
nationally and internationally important for wildlife.
The wide range of special
interest includes birds, rare flowering plants,
lichens, liverworts and mosses, coastal grassland
and heathland, seacliff ledges and marine wildlife.
It forms part of several larger sites around
the mainland coast and seas of the Llŷn Peninsula
are recognised internationally for their outstanding
wildlife, in particular their birdlife, seacliff
habitats and marine wildlife.
This places a responsibility on the Bardsey Island
Trust, as owners, and the Countryside Council for
Wales (CCW), as the government’s advisory
body on wildlife conservation, to ensure that the
island’s wildlife interest is protected for
the future. The Trust and CCW, in partnership,
have appointed a Field and Liaison Officer in recent
years to help everyone involved with Bardsey to
manage the island in a way which will take care
of the wildlife and will help people enjoy and
understand more about this very special interest
of the place.
Along the coastal margin, the spring squill makes
hazy blue carpets in early spring. It’s followed
by dense tufts of thrift and patches of thyme and,
later on, the bell heather and ling. The rarer
plants include western clover and small adder’s
tongue. Amongst the most notable of the plants
are the lichens, of which Bardsey has a rich variety
of over 350 species.
Atlantic grey seals are to be seen in the rocky
bays of the island. A small number breed on Bardsey
The Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory
opened in 1953. The island lies in the the spring
autumn migration paths of many birds and is home
to the eye-catching choughs and oystercatchers;
it is also common to see herons, peregrine falcons,
wheatears, warblers and little owls, as well as
sea birds such as gannets, razorbills and shags.
Recent evidence suggests that puffins may be colonising
the island too.
The island is mostly associated,
however, with the Manx shearwater - there is
a breeding colony of ten to sixteen thousand birds
on the island.
The seas around the island, with their forests
of strap seaweed, are rich in marine life. In the
rock pools you can see anemones, crabs and small
fish, and in the deeper waters, filter-feeders
such as sponges and sea-squirts cushion the rocks.
One offshore species, the yellow star anemone,
is more commonly found in the Mediterranean. Risso’s
dolphins and harbour porpoises are frequently seen
in the waters off the island.