Winter works with the Wildlife Trust in Pembrokeshire

Open water works at Llangloffan Fen

Open water works at Llangloffan Fen

Cutting firebreaks on Dowrog Common

Cutting firebreaks on Dowrog Common

Despite the inclement weather, this season has seen much activity on a number of Wildlife Trust reserves within the county. It is the time of year, outside the breeding season, where work can be undertaken with generally the least impact to wildlife.

The Wildlife Trust has been fortunate to receive funding through the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership to undertake an open water enhancement project at Llangloffan Fen along with fencing works here and also at Teifi Marshes nature reserve.

An area of open water at Llangloffan Fen has been desilted and areas of the invasive horsetail plant removed. This has improved the aquatic habitat for a variety of species including invertebrates such as dragonflies and damselflies, amphibians, wetland birds such as the kingfisher and rare aquatic plants such as pillwort. Due to much rain and high water levels on the reserve, it didn’t take long for the pool to fill and bird species such as water rail, coot and moorhen were soon seen using the water. Otter has also been reported within the pool.

Habitat benefits of Water Buffalo

Fencing projects have allowed the better management of marshland habitat for conservation at Teifi Marshes with water buffalo now able to graze areas of the reserve previously left to the encroachment of scrubby species. Water buffalo like nothing better than wallowing, thus creating depressions and ponds which are a prefect habitat for invertebrates such as damselflies and dragonflies, amphibians such as toads and newts and also for birdlife. These species in turn help feed the reserve’s population of otters, as well as herons and egrets.

Grazing of water buffalo can maintain the diverse and low height vegetation structure of wet meadows and on marshy areas, trampling of vegetation also creates channels which can be used for dispersal by fish into reedbeds. On reedbed areas they help achieve a variety of habitats, from dense common reed (Phragmites australis) to open channels. These open channels might also provide suitable bittern (Botaurus stellaris) foraging habitat. The buffalo prove adept at using their long, sweeping horns to tear out brambles to reach places where horses and other animals would not venture.

Other reserves in Pembrokeshire

Other winter projects have included the annual cutting of firebreaks and scrub on Dowrog Common (part funded by the Pembrokeshire Wildfire Group), woodland thinning works at Pengelli Forest, ash dieback felling works at West Williamston, Westfield Pill, Teifi Marshes and Pengelli Forest and the refurbishment of a large leaking pond at Teifi Marshes. This revamped pond is located in front of the Welsh Wildlife Centre and will be used for engaging with the general public through pond dipping events, etc. Projects still looking to be completed before summer 2020 include a new 970m boardwalk and bird hide at Teifi Marshes.

If you would like to get involved at our reserves, check out our volunteer pages