Pwll Waun Cynon Project

Woodcock by Margaret Holland

Woodcock by Margaret Holland

A two year Biffa Award funded project at Pwll Waun Cynon is drawing to a close, and staff and volunteers are taking a breather and taking a look back at the transformation that has occurred over the last couple of years.

This wetland site near Mountain Ash was plagued by invasive non-native species, and the wet meadows had become rank and were slowly being overcome by scrub. The reserve hadn’t been grazed for many years, was in need of a good litter pick, and many parts of it had become inhospitable and inaccessible to visitors.

Pwll Waun Cynon Nature Reserve was given to the Trust by Lord Aberdare in 1986, and is located at Ferhill Station, where it is bisected by the railway, and surrounds the field known locally as the ‘Peace Park’. It comprises a large pond, wet meadows and woodland, and is bordered by the Cynon River. The site was at one time part of a series of wildlife-rich wetlands that stretch along the Cynon Valley. But after much development on the valley floodplains Pwll Waun Cynon (which was itself at one time threatened with destruction) is a valuable fragment of a fast dwindling habitat, and Otter, Kingfisher, Grass snake and a rich variety of waterfowl and invertebrates are reliant upon its management and preservation.

Over the last couple of years the meadows have been fenced in so that conservation grazing can be reinstated, a pond and hibernaculum have been created for the use of amphibians and reptiles, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam have been tackled, and invading scrub has been pushed back. All of this was done with the assistance of local volunteers and wildlife enthusiasts, and the Wildlife Trust would like to thank all those who were involved.

The respected naturalist Mary Gillham was once a regular visitor to the site, and SEWBReC’s archives reveal some wonderful description of the site and the species that she recorded there. Over the last couple of years naturalists have been invited back to help build up a picture of what the site hosts now, and an impressive list of species has been compiled. Highlights have included the rare Golden-eye lichen Teleschistes chrysophthalmus, and the rarely recorded hoverfly Xanthogramma stackelbergi, and volunteers were also treated to sightings of Woodcock, Common sandpiper, and nesting kingfisher.

Now that the site has had some long-overdue TLC, the Wildlife Trust and volunteers will continue to regularly attend and carry out management tasks and monitor wildlife, and people are encouraged to pay a visit and tell us what you see! E-mail Carys via c.solman@welshwildlife.org.