Snowdonia Flora and Fauna
When it comes to outstanding natural beauty, there aren't many parts of the world which are as fortunate as Snowdonia. The region stretches across an area of 823 square miles and is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life, without which Snowdonia wouldn't be the uniquely thrilling place it is. Because of Snowdonia's distinctive natural beauty, it was declared a national park in 1951 - the first area in Wales to be so designated.
Around 20 per cent of the Snowdonia National Park is specially protected by UK and European law to conserve Snowdon's animals and plants. Some 17 National Nature Reserves are located in Snowdonia.
Among the beautiful and unusual plants found on and around Snowdon, the Snowdon Lily is one which is particularly popular. This charming and delicate alpine - also known as mountain spiderwort or as the common alplily in North America - flowers from June onwards, and for the rest of the year only its grass-like leaves can be seen. In Welsh, the Snowdon lily is known as brwynddail y mynydd, or 'rush-leaves of the mountain'. The Welsh population may number as few as 100 bulbs and is genetically different from flowers of the same type found elsewhere.
Snowdonia is home to many Arctic alpine plants. These include alpine meadow-grass, tufted saxifrage, alpine saxifrage, alpine woodsia and alpine cinquefoil. Snowdonia also has huge woodlands featuring a remarkable diversity of plant life. Mosses and liverworts thrive in the area because of its relative humidity.
The sheer diversity of habitats in Snowdonia makes the region something of a wildlife lover's paradise. Birdwatchers are among the many visitors who flock to Snowdonia. Birds frequently spotted in the area include the peregrine falcon, meadow pipit, wheatear, uplands raven and ring ouzel. Snowdonia is also the UK's main population centre for chough, an increasingly rare member of the crow family instantly recognisable to the seasoned bird watcher because of its distinctive vocalisations. A variety of wading birds can also be seen around Snowdonia's estuaries.
There's also an array of mammals living in the Snowdonia National Park. These include feral goats, otters and polecats. It is also thought that pine martens still live in the area, and while any remaining population is believed to be extremely small if indeed it exists at all, alleged sightings are reported periodically.
Among Snowdonia's top wildlife hotspots is Uwchmynydd, located at the tip of the Llyn Peninsula. Not only is the area a favoured habitat for the chough, but the nearby waters are also home to dolphins, seals and porpoises. At Pont Croesor, the RSPB's Glaslyn Osprey Project offers a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with the charismatic bird of prey. Coed-y-Brenin is another must-see for nature lovers visiting Snowdon, with black grouse, deer and red kite among the local residents.
If you do visit Snowdonia, make sure you keep a watchful eye out for the Snowdon beetle - also known as the rainbow leaf beetle. This charming and colourful little creature - classified as endangered in the UK - can be found at a few select spots on Mount Snowdon's western flank. The entire adult population is thought to amount to only around 1,000, so if you do get to see one you should consider yourself very lucky.
Snowdonia is teeming with plant and animal life, so if you're planning a trip to the area then don't forget to bring your binoculars with you. A visit to Snowdonia offers the perfect opportunity to see a range of wildlife and plants you'll struggle to find anywhere else - so it's not surprising that Snowdon's flora and fauna continue to draw so many nature lovers. And, of course, you can travel right to the Summit in style on a Snowdon steam train. So why not pay us a visit yourself and see what you can find?