The National Wetland Centre near Llanelli in Wales is a 450 acre mosaic of lakes, scrapes, pools, streams and lagoons adjoining the salt marshes and shore of the scenic Burry Inlet.
The range of habitats makes the site a refuge for many different plants and animals – from year-round members of the centre’s world wildfowl collection to seasonal flocks of wild birds numbering up to 50,000 strong.
The lagoons nearest to the estuary are where birds gather in the greatest abundance, including black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits, curlew, pintail, shelduck, shoveler, snipe and teal. Little egrets – rarely seen in Wales before the centre opened - are often present, too, and in ever-rising numbers.
Fish are plentiful in the centre’s deep-water lake, as otters and herons have discovered. The lake’s banks contain several burrows used by water voles while its islands provide nesting sites for little ringed plovers. The centre also has breeding populations of many other birds, including redshank, lapwing, reed warbler and reed bunting.
Several scarce moths have been recorded, such as the scarlet tiger moth and rosy wave moth. The centre also boasts 20 or more species of dragonfly and damselfly. In Spring and summer, the site is ablaze with botanical treasures, including bee orchids, rock sea lavender, marsh mallow, narrow leaved eel-grass, yellow horned poppy, yellow bartsia, stone parsley and the large southern marsh orchid.
- Bittern – sightings of this rare bird are becoming more frequent
- Black-tailed godwit
- Black poplar – a poplar wood showcases one of Britain’s most endangered native trees
- Dragonflies – some 20 species have been recorded
- Little egrets – virtually unknown in Wales 20 years ago but now thriving
- Little ringed plover
- Hawks and owls
- Water spiders
- Water voles
- Wild orchids
- Winter wildfowl – in flocks of up to 50,000 strong