May on the reserves in Carmarthenshire

In a mixed month for weather, the Carmarthenshire reserves volunteer team has been working really hard on a whole range of tasks across the county: here are the highlights.

Young Balsam Plants

Young Balsam Plants

May sees the arrival of our old friend, the invasive non-native Himalayan balsam, which starts to appear in Castle Woods this month. We’ve spent a day in the woods already, pulling up the scattered plants which appear as the bluebells start to go over.

At this time of year the plants are small, so we bag them in binliners to encourage them to rot. The areas of the woodland that we’ve worked hard on over the last three years are looking a lot more balsam-free now, so we’re really picking up stragglers, and moving west into new territory where we will soon be attacking the dense growth with slashers. It is really rewarding to see the native flora benefitting from the removal of the balsam at the eastern end of the woods.

We’ve also been working on the margins of Cors Goch NNR, our lowland raised bog near the Carmarthen showground. Here, we’ve had contractors working over the winter to clear trees and scrub- mostly birch- that have invaded the margins of the wetland. So we’ve been working to move some of the felled timber off the bog itself and into the wet woodland at the periphery, to allow the bog vegetation to recover.

Ffrwd Farm Mire Panel L Wilberforce

Ffrwd Farm Mire Panel L Wilberforce

At Ffrwd Farm Mire we’ve installed a new interpretation panel, funded by the Welsh Government ERDF fund, which complements the new boardwalk and seating area constructed this winter.

Meanwhile at Rhos Cefn Bryn, near Llannon, we’ve been taking down old fencelines which can now be replaced by contractors through the WREN-funded Gwendraeth Grasslands project. This is great news as the old gates and fences had been so well chewed by ponies two years ago that some of the fenceposts were almost chewed through! The new fence will allow us to graze the site properly with cattle which is exactly what this rhos pasture needs to make it perfect for the resident population of marsh fritillaries, which should be on the wing any time now. The volunteers can certainly vouch for the local invertebrate population, having spent the day working on the fence whilst being eaten alive by midges!

The rest of the summer looks to be just as busy, with lots more balsam pulling to do, and with the recent spurt of summer growth we’ll soon be into clearing footpaths to keep them open for visitors to enjoy these special places. We always welcome new volunteers, so please get in touch with Lizzie if you’d like to join us… tea and biscuits are provided!