Sometimes you can get lucky and see a particular element of nature just when you want, but at other times you have to be patient and try, try and try again.
I asked Ed, one of our Intern Volunteers to cover his recent experience at Vyrnwy:
After six weeks off following an operation it was great to come back to Vyrnwy and see the place transformed into full spring bloom. I also came back in time for one of the busiest periods of the year, when various bird species are monitored during their breeding season.
Last week was particularly good for raptors. To start with, on Tuesday morning we spotted an Osprey quite close to the dam, circling and diving for fish - a lovely sight. It could have been one of the birds from Llyn Brenig or just a wondering youngster, but it is always worth keeping an eye out for these beautiful birds (which I once heard described as looking like ‘Eagles made out of Viennetta’!). There has also been a pair of Peregrine at the lake.
Above: Male Hen Harrier by Gavin Chambers; Below: Ed during monitoring by Ed Morris
One of the main jobs at this time of year is monitoring for Hen Harriers and Merlin, which involves sitting at various points high on the moorland for four hours at a time and scanning the surrounding land and sky with binoculars and telescope. If the weather’s good and there are birds to be seen this is a particularly pleasant way to spend a morning or afternoon, although there are some ‘dud’ days when time goes very slowly! However, it is of course important to know where the birds aren’t present as well as where they are. After a couple of quiet days at the beginning of the week we had excellent views of both target species - hopefully they will both breed successfully this year.
Otter below the dam in 2014 by Gavin Chambers
Away from birds, after hearing reports of otters being seen from the Centenary hide at the end of the lake, I spent a couple of hours each evening last week sitting in the hide hoping to spot one myself. However, planned otter watching isn’t so easy, with a lot of luck involved, and so far I’ve seen nothing. I did however capture some images of one below the dam at the other side of the lake with a camera trap. It would be interesting to know if they are the same animals at either end.
Pine marten scat (© VWT)
As interns we are encouraged to carry out personal projects which reflect our interests while adding to our skills. I was planning on doing my own Pine Marten survey for the reserve, but then I was told that the Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) is currently doing a Wales-wide investigation into the species, and so I have volunteered to do the 4 hectads (10km squares) which surround the lake. This involves walking along 3 or 4 transects (mainly forest tracks) in each hectad looking for Pine marten scats and other signs. Hopefully I’ll find some evidence of their presence - the VWT radio-tracked one near to the lake a couple of years ago - but if not then it’ll be a good way to explore the local area a bit more!
The trust hope to establish what the current state of Wales’ Pine Marten population is, especially in light of the reintroductions of Scottish animals to this country between 2015 and 2017.
Thank you to Ed. Raptors, Otters and Pine Martens. I have been lucky enough to see all of these on various trips to Scotland, but wouldn’t it be great to see Pine Martens established at Lake Vyrnwy and then we could expect the gradual return of Red Squirrels.
If you visit Lake Vyrnwy and especially if you spend time in one of the hides, please take the time to record what you see on the Recent Sightings white boards in the hides.
Ed Morris, Intern Volunteer & John Davies, Handyman Volunteer
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