Those who are familiar with West Williamston Nature Reserve will have noticed that a variety of works have occurred over the past few months. The majority of these have involved fulfilling management regimes set out under the site’s Better Woodlands for Wales scheme. These included the thinning of Ash to allow more light onto the woodland floor and create a variety of structure in the canopy layer, identifying veteran trees, opening glades and removing dangerous overhanging limbs from footpaths.
There was surprisingly little tree damage after the heavy winter storms although some of the impressive Beeches were not so lucky and lost several limbs. None-the-less the woodland is the healthiest it has been for many years. I dare not think of the effect Ash dieback would have on this site and it is something that the Wildlife Trust are monitoring. Nothing found so far yet it may only be a matter of time. I do hope not.
Other projects included repairs to footpaths where local limestone has been used to infill dips and level areas, the use of a contractor to top and flail bramble encroaching onto valuable meadow habitats and most recently, a litter pick which came away with 18 bags of rubbish and one Needlefish!
The reserve’s iconic Brown hairstreak butterfly species has also been monitored throughout the winter months. Eggs laid last season were counted, loss to predation noted and their hatch rate currently being surveyed. Just over 1,600 eggs were counted and on the 9th of April the first eggs started to hatch. Do keep your eye out for this elusive species during summer months, especially during August when the females come down from the Ash canopy to lay their eggs on the young Blackthorn.
Spring is most definitely here and it is at this time of year when Wood anemone, Bluebell, Primrose and Dog violet carpet the ground with Wild garlic providing an earthy aroma. The Greater spotted woodpecker is certainly making itself heard with its drumming echoing throughout the wood on most days. Curlews compliment this sound from the saltmarshes and foreshore.
Nathan Walton, Pembrokeshire Wildlife Trust Officer