Trip reports


Angharad Jones

Sunday, 26 April 2015

It was quite a cold and overcast day for spring when eleven of us turned up for the nature walk around Brynna Woods and Llanharan Marsh however it soon brightened up. The walk was led by Rod Parry, who is Conservation Manager, and volunteer Mark Steer. Mark told us about the history of coal mining in the woods and was an expert on fungi.

Brynna Woods and Llanharan Marsh is a linear Nature Reserve managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. It is situated to the south of the village of Brynna and extends east to the village of Llanharan, which are both found north of the M4 motorway between Pencoed and Talbot Green.

It is a mixture of ancient and semi-natural woodland and marshy and dry

grassland and scrub. The Reserve is noted for its wildlife, particularly Bats and Dormice. The resident Dormouse numbers have declined dramatically due to a reduction in food sources due to overgrazing of the area.

Before we started our walk, Rob showed us the difference between a Hazel nut eaten by a Common Dormouse and one eaten by a Wood Mouse. The Dormouse leaves a smooth round hole in the side of the nut with tooth marks on the inside of the hole whereas the Wood Mouse leaves tooth marks on the surface of the nut and across the edge of the hole, a more serrated effect. So, as we continued our walk we all looked for Hazel nut shells to see if we could spot the difference!

On the walk, we came across some of the derelict buildings and shafts of the old coal mine that was in operation up until 1933. These are now a good habitat for the Barbastelle and rare Lesser Horseshoe Bats and bat walks are organised in the summer evenings by the Wildlife Trust.

Usually at this time of year parts of the wood and meadow are covered with a profusion of Bluebells, however due to the weather only a few plants could be seen.

Mark explained about the different types of Fungi that we came across which were Turkey Tail, Bracket and Honey bootlaces. Some of the birds that were spotted on the circular route were a pair of Goldcrest, a Bullfinch with its bright pinkish red breast, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit. Mallard were seen on the pond which was once used to supply the colliery washery with water. A Jay and a Blackcap were also seen darting among the hazel trees and we also heard the song of a Willow Warbler. Twenty-four species in total were recorded for the day and a Stoat was very briefly seen.

At the end of the walk, back in the car park, a young robin flew under one of the cars, flew out again and almost perched on Pete Elkington's shoulder and then flew over my head!

We all agreed that it was pleasant change to go on a nature walk and listen to the expert knowledge of the area from both Rob and Mark.

Viv Jenkins