June sees the annual return of the Gower Walking Festival and this year we organised a walk to show off The Dranges, Swansea Neath and Port Talbot’s newest reserve. The Dranges is an old word used to describe a through way. The site is a great little lost corner on Gower that until recently has been under private ownership. Mrs Pressdee, a life member of Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, has kindly leased the site to The Wildlife Trust so that the conservation interests of the site can continue being met.
The walk was lead by Karen Mcullough. Karen is currently being funded though Vodaphone to help us write up the management plan for The Dranges. The plan will then dictate what work we shall be carrying out over the next 5 years. She has an in depth knowledge of where and when to find the best wildlife, gained from the countless hours she has spent on the reserve observing its many treasures. The walk was fully attended, including Festival organiser Barbara Parry.
Unfortunately due to recent bed weather the paths were extremely muddy and we were quick to learn to keep moving else you found yourself sinking. But the sun came out on the actual day and for an interval we experienced summer. Thank you to Karen for leading the walk, Mrs Pressdee for allowing us up to enjoy some of the private parts of the reserve, and also Barbara and The Gower Walking Festival for organising the event.
This month has also seen us start a strategic programme trying to eradicate the Himalyan balsam that is a problem at Gelli Hir. Himalayan balsam is an invasive non native that completely swamps whole areas choking out whatever’s already growing there. The banks around the pond at Gelli Hir are full of it, as is the island. We have now had several work party days with volunteers removing the balsam. The task was and still is daunting, but so far the days have gone really well and the volunteers have achieved an amazing amount – making small mountains of the pulled balsam and filling several tonne bags.
This month we have also spent some time installing art and interpretation signs at Killay Marsh. This was funded by City & county of Swansea’s Communities and Nature project. We have commissioned local artist Ami Marsden to carve a Damselfly and a Yellow Flag Iris with her chain saw. The result looked brilliant, they add a focus that visitors to the site can enjoy, whilst also flagging up the importance of Killay Marsh as a reserve for wildlife. Unfortunately within a couple of weeks of going in someone had tried to remove the Damselfly, damaging it slightly and making it vulnerable. We shall be reinstalling it again soon.