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Habitats and Wildlife

The Vale of Glamorgan's coast and countryside hold an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, making it one of the richest areas of biodiversity and natural beauty in south wales.


The landscape ranges from plunging cliffs to rolling farmland and includes a range of dynamic ecosystems some left wild and many sensitively managed by the Ranger Service.


We’re always happy to receive information on sightings of interesting plants and animals in the Vale of Glamorgan. Drop us an email, with digital images if possible to:




Clustered Bellflowers

Coastal Grassland

We have both calcareous and neutral grassland on the coast rich in plant life specific to soil type. Our rangers are busy managing these areas to encourage the growth of a diverse range of flora that would otherwise be smothered by scrub. 


Common Species: Clustered Bellflower, Purple Gromwell and Tuberous Thistle.



To maintain this precious habitat the Ranger Service remove scrub vegetation and rotationally manage the reedbeds to attract as many wildlife species as possible and who knows, we may attract the rare Water Vole to Cosmeston in the near future.




Location: Cosmeston Lakes Country Park


Common Species: Reed Mace, Yellow Flag Iris, Purple Loosestrife and Greater Spearwort, Emperor and Migrant Hawker Dragonfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Bittern, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting.

Brimstone (2)


The grassland meadows at Cosmeston are cut once a year after the flowers have gone over and the cuttings removed, the dovecot fields are lightly grazed by cattle from October through to March, then also cut after the flowers have gone over and the cuttings removed. This management regime has helped to encourage growth and species diversity year on year. 




Location: Cosmeston Lakes Country Park


Common Species: Common Blue, Brimstone, Red Admiral and Grayling butterflies / Yellow Cowslips, Primrose, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Pink Willow Herb and the Forget-me-not.


Lakes and Ponds

The two flooded quarries have become the main lakes at Cosmeston over 12ha in size with many smaller ponds found throughout the country park for you to discover. 


Lakes and Ponds


Locations:  Cosmeston Lakes Country Park /  Porthkerry Country Park


Common Species: Teal, Tufted Duck, Widgeon, Pochard, Shoveler ducks and Bittern.



Along the coast woodlands are scarce because of the harsh environment. Trees are often stunted due to the salt winds. Where woodlands are found there is often a good ground covering of spring flowers such as bluebells and wild garlic.




Locations:  Dunraven Park /  Porthkerry Country Park / Cosmeston Lakes Country Park


Common Species: Oak, Ash, Elm, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Rabbits, Brown Rats, Voles and Hedgehogs. 

edible crab

Rocky shores

Beaches on the coast range from rocky shores to expansive areas of sand. Discover abundant marine life adapted to the harsh intertidal conditions of our exposed shores such as sea anemones, barnacles, periwinkles and many more. Dunraven Bay is a good beach for families to explore and search for edible and shore crabs.


Locations: Heritage Coast


Common Species: Prawns,  Sea Anemones, Barnacles and Periwinkles

Green Beetles


Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve is part of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast now managed by Natural Resources Wales. Its spectacular sand dunes are rated the second highest in Europe. This area is rich in plant life. It is also an area of special interest for fungi like the highly prized Morel.


Location: Glamorgan Heritage Coast


Common Species: Butterflies, Moths, Beetles and Glow Worms.

Chough looking for food


The majority of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast cliffs are made up of Liassic limestone and shale. The cliffs are used by nationally important bird species.


Location:  Glamorgan Heritage Coast


Common Species: Peregrine and Chough

Brown Hare in grass


Most of the land within the Glamorgan Heritage Coast designation is privately owned. From Aberthaw to Llantwit major farmland is mostly arable and mixed farming from Llantwit Major to Southerndown. 


Location:  Glamorgan Heritage Coast


Common Species: Sheep and Hare

High Brown Fritilaries


These include Ogmore Common and areas adjacent to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.The main management is sheep grazing and some vegetation cutting.


Locations: Glamorgan Heritage Coast /  Cosmeston Lakes Country Park / Porthkerry Country Park


Common Species: High Brown Fritillary Butterfly and Adder.