We’ve started 2012 off with enthusiasm, getting stuck into a variety of different management tasks at our sites. First day back after Christmas we were up at Melincourt with volunteers and a hired power barrow clearing a large root ball off the path. Access through to the waterfall had been restricted after a large tree had uprooted and fallen, blocking the path last year.
A few weeks later we were back again to remove the rhododendron that’s creaping up in a couple of isolated spots. The estate’s team have also completed a hazardous tree assessment on trees within falling distance from the paths. Each tree was assessed for signs of rot and stability and recommendation were made for their continued safe management.
We have also spent several days selectively thinning a section of our woodland at Gelli hir. We have created better spacing within the oaks, ash and birches. Larger spacing allows the mature trees more space to thrive, and the ground flora to benefit from the increased light on the woodland floor. Volunteers have been on board helping clear some of the smaller vegetation and making habitat piles from the felled timber.
Work has started at Llanridian Hill with the aim to increase the area of Calcareous grassland at the site of an old quarry. The quarry was once a good spot to see the locally rare marble white butterfly. Encroachment of scrub and bramble is making this site less favourable for the butterfly.
The larval foodplants of the marble white include many of our native grass species. With the help of volunteers a big effort has been made to bash back the invading vegetation. We hope that our efforts will help improve the wildlife potential of this valuable grassland. This will require continued monitoring and ongoing management.
St Valentine’s day we were up the Swansea Valley at Craig Cilhendre hosting our ‘Love Birds’ event.
Members of the public helped staff and volunteers build and put up over 50 bird boxes across the whole of the reserve. These will hopefully provide a safe haven for many of the woodland passerines using the site, helping them to successfully fledge their young this coming spring.
The middle of February has also seen the estate team start a program of bracken management at Overton Cliffs. We are using the tractor and flail to cut back gorse and bracken to improve the maritime heaths.