Last year we started a project to renovate the volunteer accommodation at Lake Vyrnwy – two attached bungalows named Glynafon and Minafon. This has been quite a major project, reminiscent of a “Homes Under the Hammer” feature, project managed by Assistant Warden Gethin. It has involved new windows and external doors, new heating including a Solar Panel to supplement heating water, new bathrooms, complete redecoration and finally new laminate flooring. I say finally because I finished the flooring in Minafon just last Thursday in time for our new Intern Volunteers Molly and Ed to move in on Monday after a spring clean by Gwyneth who has been volunteering with us for the past two weeks.

Molly and Ed will be with us for the next 12 months building their experience in Conservation Management including a training programme covering chain saws, driving four wheel drive vehicles and mountain navigation. Hopefully opportunity will be knocking for them both when they have 12 months of invaluable experience of putting these new skills into practice. To start with they will be getting to grips with the all important population surveys. So welcome to Molly and Ed who will no doubt be contributing to this volunteer’s blog over the next 12 months.

Singing willow tit during survey at Lake Vyrnwy (Photo by Gavin Chambers)

For the next couple of years, a National willow tit survey is taking place, run by the RSPB and Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP), to better understand the population of the second fastest declining species in the UK, after the turtle dove. To do this a lot of volunteer resource is required, so check out this Blog to find out more and see how you might be able to help.

Gwyneth looking over the lake (Photo by Gwyneth Sanders)

This is the second year that Gwyneth has volunteered at Lake Vyrnwy, having previously volunteered on the Ramsey Island reserve. This time, as well as helping get Minafon ready Gwyneth has been out on the moors, helping with Willow Tit surveys, and clearing brush with the rare greater chested warden fire starter!

Gethin starting a bonfire while helping the Hafren Dyfrdwy volunteer task team (Photo by Gwyneth Sanders)

I asked Gwyneth for her initial thoughts on her time at Vyrnwy this year:

I came back to Lake Vyrnwy after first coming here in 2018. It was a cold snowy experience last year planting and ironically cutting ferral conifers that stray onto moorland cultivated for the black grouse. This time my experience has been so different. The weather with temperatures of 18 degrees sunny days and foggy mornings brought out the birds. The feeders at Glynafon were full of chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, goldfinches, siskin and the occasional woodpecker.

Jenny and I did a willow tit survey monitoring areas throughout the wooded areas. We cleaned areas free from leaves, maintaining feeding areas to encourage small birds and Merlin to the area. Cameras monitor these areas. I really wanted to be better at identifying birds and have come to realise that I actually am building up a good knowledge base.

Gwyneth enjoying the warm fire (Photo by Gwyneth Sanders)

Lake Vyrnwy is an interesting RSPB site with the local community being close-knit and friendly. I spent some time in the Capel hide and talked with visitors, fellow birders, families and lone runners and bike riders. People who had never been here had travelled long distances and it was great to welcome them.

The future holds great opportunity and I look forward to seeing great results

So, it’s a warm Vyrnwy welcome to Molly and Ed and a big thank you to Gwyneth with a future of opportunity for all.

John Davies, Tagmon/Volunteer Handyman

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