A loud chomping noise rises from inside a tussock of grass (Chomp, chomp, chomp. Pause. Rustle. Chomp, chomp, chomp…).
The only logical conclusion is that Y Gweira has a thriving population of micro-cows. The reserve already has the normal large kind, recently introduced to graze the reserve, who were giving us the usual intensely laconic Bovine stare whilst making the exact same chomping noises as their tiny compatriots as we wandered around collecting Scabious seed for an upcoming project.
(Yes, my fellow volunteers and our esteemed leader said the concealed chomper was something called “A Vole” but who seriously believes they exist).
Both kinds of Cow are charged with preventing this SSSI from being encroached by scrub, bracken and bramble and to encourage regeneration and enrichment of the wet grassland and raised bog habitat which is home to several important and interesting species.
We have been here for the past few months controlling the Himalayan Balsam (yes it’s here as well) that is slowly beginning to invade from the edges of an adjoining stream, luckily we have caught it before it has become rampant (we hope) and have a chance of getting control and eradicating it (Hmmm thinks: An army of trained Micro-cows that nibble through Balsam stems?), and some of the larger bracken and scrub patches to allow the Cows easier access to chomp on any subsequent regrowth.
Of course a new reserve with different habitats means a new set of species to find which makes me happy!
Graham Watkeys – Taf Fechan Warden