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  • Ringing the changes

    Seasons have shifted and there any many changes to report on at Ynys-hir since the last blog. Firstly, August saw the welcoming of 3 interns for their 9 month posting; Darran, Philippa and Naomi. All will be working on site creating homes for nature and improving the experience for visitors.

    Our recent conservation work has focussed on clearing large areas of bramble, holly, and rhododendron from our broadleaf woodland on the green trail to open up the scrub layer for specialist woodland species like the pied flycatcher and wood warbler. Both species are on the conservation red list, meaning their numbers nationwide have dropped significantly. Fortunately our part of Wales has the perfect habitat for these birds and it’s our job to keep it in the best condition. Another part of the management will see our Welsh mountain ponies grazing in the wood over the coming weeks; their hooves churn up the ground and reduce the amount of unwanted vegetation regrowth in the spring.

    Elsewhere on the green trail, we’ve created a new Insectacropolis for our minibeast Wildlife Challenge. Rotting log piles, leaf litter and muddy stumps are great places for finding the smaller inhabitants of our reserve like worms, earwigs, and ground beetles which are essential food for hedgehogs, blackbirds and many more species. Sign up for Wild Challenge free on our website and explore the micro-world on the reserve!

    We have made some changes to the red route due to the closing of the path at farm corner as we coppice an area of woodland. Our aim is to create pockets of woody regeneration throughout the woodland to generate a more dynamic habitat with trees of different ages. Beforehand we had to conduct a dormouse survey to ensure no disturbance occurred, and it was certainly an experience surveying for nests in head-high brambles!! We didn’t find any nest evidence, however stay tuned for an update of murine management work in the coming months.

    As this part of the red trail is now closed, with the help of our brilliant volunteers and warden Russell, we opened up a new route into Covert Du further down the track to access Ynys Eidiol viewing screen and the reed bed.

  • Sunny days

    It's that time of year when the woods go fairly quiet for birds. Pied flycatchers have fledged and dispersed into the top canopy making them almost impossible to spot., and it's a similar story for the redstarts. Yet there is still plenty of wildlife to see. We are enjoying yet more sunny weather at the reserve which is great for butterflies, emerging dragonflies and damselflies,not to mention the reptiles such as grass snakes and common lizard.

    Naomi took the opportunity yesterday,to do the weekly butterfly transect and various species were seen.The most abundant being large whites and meadow browns. Other species on the wing were peacocks, red admirals, gatekeeper, ringlets and small copper.

    The boardwalks on the red route are great at the moment for seeing common lizards basking in the sun before shooting off quickly out of sight.

    For birds, there are still lapwing with juveniles on the pools at Marian Mawr plus common sandpiper with chick, lots of young little egrets and the kingfishers can be spotted from Domenlas. Green sandpiper can be seen in the pools in front of the Visitor Center. 

  • A royal visit...

    First off, apologies for the delay in this posting, it would have been sooner but we've spent a couple of weeks without internet after the gales. As it is, June is the beginning of the silly season for birdwatchers with many of the spring migrants now much less visible as the breeding season winds down, and attention starts to wander to other parts of the natural world. The Dyfi ospreys are still to be seen from the reserve however, as the striking photo below can attest, and the oystercatchers nesting on the wall in front of the Domen Las hide have successfully reared two chicks.

    Osprey, Pandion haliaetus (Paul Wilson)

    Oystercatcher, Haemotopus ostralegus (Keith Roberts)

    There can be little doubt that it's reptile and invertebrate season at the minute though. Grass snakes and common lizards are out and about, and our butterfly transects have recorded common blue, brimstone, red admiral, meadow brown, speckled wood, green-veined white and large white among others. Anyone with an interest in getting to grips with butterflies is more than welcome to attend our 'Celebrating Meadows' event on July 8th, where they can learn not just about butterflies but the whole range of plants and invertebrates associated with the grasslands at the reserve. The event is free, with guided walks running at 11am and 2pm, and grass sweeping in the afternoon. Please ring the Visitor Centre (01654 700222) or email ynys-hir@rspb.org.uk to book. Odonata have also become increasingly visible, particularly large red and common blue damselflies, as well as a scattering of broad-bodied chasers. There'll be plenty of other species out there, time to get looking!

    Common blue, Polyommatus icarus (Tom Kistruck)


    Broad-bodied chaser, Libeulla depressa (Ryan Astley)

    No fungal feature this time, so here's an interesting fern instead. Royal fern is a plant of damper habitats, and a rarity in Ceredigion, so it's nice to see it's splendid fronds along the boardwalk at Covert Coch. The species declined markedly due to collection in the Victorian period, when its fibres were used as a medium for growing orchids, and it also has a curious and poorly understood history in European folklore, where it has been associated with a variety of medicinal, mystical, and occult properties.

    Royal fern, Osmunda regalis (Chris Goding)