Nearly 20 years ago, in the 1990s, 15.4ha of beautiful upland valley mire in mid Ceredigion was purchased by Marlene Matthews, in memory of her son Ian Cowpertwait, who had been a student at Aberystwyth University. Brynarth Bach was renamed Cors Ian after him and was donated to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales “to be caretakers of this beautiful place” in 2003, “…the first day I saw it, I knew it was a natural nature reserve.”
“It is a privilege for me to say a few words about Ian to commemorate what would be his 50th birthday on the 5th November.
Cors Ian is a wonderful tribute to Ian who lived in Aberystwyth whilst studying for his masters degree in computer science which he successfully completed despite his illness.
Ian was talented in so many ways, including his travel photography, such as his pictures in India.
He will always be loved and remembered.”
Paul Cowpertwait (Ian’s brother)
Several special projects have taken place on the nature reserve since we took over itsmanagement: three ponds have been dug; hedges, trees and the green lane have been fenced; a leaflet and interpretation board have been produced.
The ponds add another habitat to the mosaic and improve it for the watervoles, dragonflies, damselflies and amphibians. A viewing platform allows easy access to the pond edge where, on a sunny day, several species of dragonfly and damselfly can be seen flying and laying their eggs. The fencing protects the hedges and green lane from the grazing animals that seem to like to chew the bark (and also secures our boundary)! Contractors and volunteers have both been involved in this work- even a party of volunteers from Coventry.
As well as these projects there are several routine reserve management work parties a year. Annual tasks include cutting the green lane, cutting scrub from the bog and clearing patches in the gorse. The reserve is also grazed by animals from a local farm.
Among the interesting mosaic of habitats on the reserve there are molinia tufts and rushes, orchids, sundews and other marsh plants, streams, pockets of wet woodland, hedgerows, a gorse bank with resident badgers and a drier meadow with an old stone ruin. Water voles nest above ground out on the bog. Otters, though not seen, have left their mark particularly around the ponds. Frogs and toads breed on the reserve and brown hares can be seen on the drier areas.
Dragonflies, including the keeled skimmer, emperor and four spotted chaser thrive and the dramatic golden ringed dragonfly can be found hunting amongst the gorse. Large numbers of common blue, azure and large red damselflies are seen on the ponds and there are many commoner species of butterflies and moths including speckled wood, green veined white, red admiral, scarlet tiger but also a small population of small pearl-bordered fritillaries.
The old hedgerows throughout the reserve provide nest sites for redstarts, tits and wrens whilst around the old stables are nesting spotted and pied flycatchers, swallows and garden warblers in the scrub area. Resident birds on the mire include breeding grasshopper warblers and reed buntings, with stonechats, whinchats and meadow pipits on the drier parts. Birds of prey include buzzard, red kite and the occasional hen harrier. Ravens are regularly seen and the easily identified call of the great spotted woodpecker is often heard.
There is a public footpath through the reserve (shown on the leaflet and the interpretation board) that runs from the entrance along the green lane and around the edge of the bog out on to the neighbouring farmland. It forms part of a circular walk around the local area, advertised by the council.
There is also a permissive path to the top of the gorse covered hill where there are spectacular views across the reserve and northern Ceredigion. Visitors to the local guesthouse, as well as the owners and locals, enjoy walking through this fantastic place. “Everyone that visits remarks at what a beautiful reserve it is. It is definitely one of my favourites” commented Em Foot, Wildlife Trust Officer, Ceredigion and current manager for the reserve.