Marsh Pea and Wax Caps in Carmarthenshire

With the discovery of marsh pea in an area of Ffrwd Farm Mire where it had been previously unrecorded, we set about trying to manage for it.

Marsh Pea at Ffrwd by Lizzie Wilberforce

Marsh Pea at Ffrwd by Lizzie Wilberforce

There are only two places in Wales where marsh pea occurs naturally. It likes the interface between the reedswamp, fen and marshy grassland. Therefore without management, it is in danger of being shaded out by reeds and other rank vegetation. This month the volunteer team has worked hard, scything back the encroaching vegetation and raking up the arisings.

Also at Ffrwd Farm Mire, as part of our ditch management scheme, we have cleared blackthorn on an old culvert. Periodically at Ffrwd, Natural Resource Wales’ diggers open up new ditches to increase open water on the site. Open water is favoured by many species. Its creation also allows all the successional changes within a wetland to be present, this benefit biodiversity from creating a range of habitat that can be used and exploited by a large frequency of species. The cleared culvert will allow access for machinery to get to new parts of the site which have been left unmanaged for many years.

Cutting back reed in Carmarthenshire

Cutting back reed in Carmarthenshire

Bramble is an ongoing problem at most sites but some particularly favour it. Whilst recognising it as a valuable resource: by providing a nectar source, berries each autumn, and good nesting habitat, it grows fast and can easily out-compete other less competitive species of plants.

At Carmel National Nature Reserve, valuable unimproved grassland habitat is at risk from the growth of brambles. The volunteer team has spent many days this autumn putting our scythes into action, cutting back the encroaching bramble. We have also cleared several woodland glades and shall look forward to spring when Carmel’s amazing woodland flora rewards our work.

Wax cap in Carmarthenshire

Wax cap in Carmarthenshire

Also at Carmel this week we have been delighted to see several wax caps pop up and add a bit of colour to some bleak days.  Several species were spotted. As these were found on fields where no fertiliser has ever been added, they highlight the value of unimproved grasslands, and why we need to protect them.

We have helped Carmarthenshire County Council manage Ynys Dawela country park. This site harbours marsh fritillary and is an important site in the landscape for connecting up marsh fritillary populations at Cwmgors and Ystradgunlais. By cutting back and raking grasses and pushing back encroaching bramble we are protecting and improving this valuable Rhos pasture.