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The confluence of these three broad estuaries forms an intertidal area covering thousands of acres on the shores of Carmarthen Bay and is one of the most important areas of such habitat in South Wales.
As well as sandbanks and mudflats there are large areas of grassland, saltmarsh, and numerous creeks.
Outside the estuary mouth are the fine sandy beaches of Laugharne Sands and Pendine Sands to the west and Cefn Sidan Sands to the east. Salmon Point Scar on the north of the Gwendraeth Estuary has a rocky beach and on the opposite shore at Wharley Point where the Taf meets the Tywi there are cliffs.
Behind the dunes of Cefn Sidan Sands is Pembrey Forest,[Map] a large area of pinewoods that has great interest for botanists and entomologists.
Great Cormorant breeds on nearby St Margaret's Island and gathers in large numbers in the estuary and Grey Heron is another locally breeding bird that is always present. Other species seen throughout the year include Common Shelduck, Common Eider and Common Scoter, and Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover which breeds in small numbers. Common Buzzard is a frequent hunter over woods and grasslands.
Ornithologically the area is of most interest in winter and during passage periods. In midwinter various divers and grebes can be seen as well as waterfowl including Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser.
During passage periods a wide range of waders can be seen in the estuary, particularly in late summer-autumn when the greatest variety occurs. Wildfowl numbers begin to build up in late September-October.
Rarities recorded in this area have included Surf Scoter, Common Crane and Eurasian Spoonbill, Cream-coloured Courser and waders such as Long-billed Dowitcher, Grey Phalarope and Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper and White-rumped Sandpiper.
Birds you can see here include:
Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Common Eider, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Short-eared Owl, Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Common Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, European Stonechat, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Sedge Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Great Grey Shrike, Rook, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Twite, Snow Bunting, Reed Bunting
Pembrey Forest [Map]and the adjacent dunes are rich in invertebrates with more than 30 species of butterfly to be seen including Silver-washed Fritillary and Marbled White. Other insects include a variety of dragonflies, damselflies and grasshoppers as well as rare species of soldier-fly and longhorn beetle.
Plants of interest include Moonwort and Adderstongue, Lesser Water-Plantain, Bloody Cranesbill and Twiggy Mullein. Orchids are rich and diverse with Bee and Fen, Pyramidal, Fragrant and Green-winged, Autumn Lady's Tresses and Marsh, Dune and Broad-leaved Helleborines. Dune Gentian is a local speciality.
The area is worth visiting at any time of year but summer weekends and public holidays can be rather crowded.
History and Use
Much of the southern shore is a military area and access is very difficult but Tywyn Point can be reached via Pembrey Forest and Cefn Sidan Sands.
Areas of Interest
Continue on foot from here to explore the northern shore of the Gwendraeth or drive to Cydweli Quay[Map] for the head of the estuary.
For the Taf Estaury one of the best spots is Ginst Point,[Map] reached on foot from Laugharne via Sir John's Hill and the sea-wall.
A possible alternative is to take the A4066 Laugharne to Pendine road and follow the MOD boundary fence towards the point.
Access and Facilities
- Carmarthen Bay on Streetmap
- Llanstephan & Ferryside shown on Streetmap
- Salmon Point Scar on Streetmap
- Cydweli Quay on Streetmap
- Ginst Point on Streetmap
- Pembrey Forest on Streetmap
Content and images originally posted by Steve