Thanks to support from Environment Wales and Biffaward, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) has been able to secure a grant to help benefit their beautiful woodland nature reserve Coed Y Bedw.
Only 3km north of Cardiff, Coed Y Bedw is an ancient broadleaved woodland of over 16 hectares, spread across both acidic and calcareous soils.
The wood consists of a variety of tree types ranging from dry beech woodland in the north and west to wet alder carr along the valley bottom where the acidic Nant Cwmllwydrew winds its picturesque way through the trees. Beneath the canopy, there is a wide range of shrubs and flowers, many of which are ancient woodland indicators such as spindle, ramsons (or wild garlic) and bluebells.
This diversity of habitats supports a wide variety of invertebrates (including the uncommon giant lacewing) and woodland birds. Year round resident birds such as treecreepers, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and tawny owls are joined in the summer by visiting migrants including willow warblers, blackcaps, redstarts and pied flycatchers. The latter species in particular is something of a Welsh speciality; preferring the open oak woodlands more frequently found on hillsides in the west of the UK.
Many of these bird species nest in holes in trees, but unfortunately not all of them can dig their own holes as woodpeckers can and with standing deadwood being at a premium, one of the most effective ways of improving a woodland for these species is to install artificial nest boxes. This is particularly important for pied flycatchers as they often struggle to find unoccupied nesting sites as by the time they return to the UK from their wintering grounds in West Africa species such as blue or great tits have already taken up residence.
The grant, among other things, will help provide a range of nest boxes, including many long-lasting woodcrete boxes suitable for the pied flycatchers. There will also be some specialist treecreeper nest boxes and rather more substantial tawny owl boxes.
It has been a few years since pied flycatchers have been confirmed as breeding in the reserve so hopefully they will find these new boxes suitable!
In addition to birds, bat boxes will also be installed to provide extra roosting potential for common and soprano pipistrelles known to be present at Coed Y Bedw. All these boxes will then be monitored every year in partnership with the local community in order to produce a long-term picture of how various bird species are faring in the reserve.
Due to the support from Environment Wales and Biffaward, WTSWW will be able to improve the woodland habitat itself by selectively thinning and coppicing some areas to increase the habitat diversity and create habitat piles for amphibians and invertebrates. Ponds within the reserve will also be managed more effectively and access to the reserve will be improved for the benefit of the local community by repairing bridges and footpaths.