I must admit that I was feeling pleased with my day’s work after laying the final section of laminate flooring in the hallway of Glynafon volunteer accommodation and when I got home and was told it was steak for dinner with a nice bottle of Rioja I felt even more cheerful. That mood had continued today as I write the latest volunteers’ blog and there are still more reasons to be cheerful both at Lake Vyrnwy and at home.

New fencing in front of Coed y Capel Hide

Our long term volunteers Nick and Clive spent a week with us recently (we have stopped counting the number of years they have been coming to Lake Vyrnwy) and together with Torrin and myself we set about some maintenance work on the Coed y Capel hide – probably our most popular hide because it sits adjacent to the central car park and because the birdfeeders right in front of the hide mean you always get a great display of Tits and Finches. Anyway, we needed to build a new safety rail to protect volunteers who top up the bird feeders every day (Selwyn usually takes on this task) and the hillside does drop away quite dramatically alongside the path. So we did the donkey work of putting in posts for the hand rail (Nick, Clive and Torrin finished it off with rails the next day) and turned our attention to re-aligning the guttering for that side of the hide. Having done that, Clive filled his pipe for a relaxed smoke and Nick suggested we should test the guttering to ensure he had the angle of run off right – we all thought this was a good idea. Nick grasped a bucket full of water and tried to project it onto the roof. Well some of the water did make it onto the roof and ran down the guttering as desired, but the majority of the bucketful somehow managed in true slapstick style to land right on top of Clive! There was a great deal of laughter and visitors in the hide joined in the fun as well asking if there was a charge for the entertainment – even Clive was happy enough because despite the drenching his pipe stayed alight. Definitely a reason to be cheerful.

New nest box

This is the time of year when nests are being built and we have to complete renewal of our nest box population – so Molly, one of our Intern Volunteers joined me in the workshop to build twenty nest boxes. We had a productive afternoon with me cutting the kits and Molly screwing them together. Molly had little experience of using power tools before this, but rapidly learned how and enjoyed adding yet more skills to her conservation portfolio. Size is important and these nest boxes were done with 32mm entrance holes making them suitable for sparrows and nuthatches. So that will give some nesting birds a reason to be cheerful. If you want to emulate Molly you can find details of how to make your own nest boxes on the RSPB web site here, or you can buy them ready made from the RSPB Shop.

House Sparrow (Left) and House Martin (Right), archive photos by Gavin Chambers

Nature always has a way of surprising you with the ingenuity of birds and animals. I live in the Welsh hills in a rural area surrounded by farmland and we have a great selection of birds who visit our garden and birdfeeders – Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Siskin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Wren, Wagtails, the occasional Tree Creeper and recently Sparrows. We also host House Martins in the summer with half a dozen of their nests around the eaves of the house. Its only in the last couple of years that we have seen Sparrows this high up in the hills and we were surprised to see that some of them have taken over some of the House Martin nests. Apparently this is quite common, so when the House Martins return in early May they will have to build anew. I have already seen one House Martin on the phone wires by the farm at the bottom of the hill, so maybe they will be early this year. The House Martins may not be cheerful, but I guess the Sparrows were to find ready-made nests.

Handymans daffodils

We have had quite a mixture of weather for the garden so far this year. Our second variety of Daffodils, Cheerfulness had just come out in full bloom when we had that cold spell with wet snow for two days running. Sadly I watched the Daffodils bow their heads with the snow, but then the weather improved and Cheerfulness came back and stood up proud. So at home we have lots to keep us cheerful, Daffodils still in bloom, flowering cherries in full flower, fruit trees with blossom and lambs frolicking in the fields that surround us. Even cutting the lawn is less of a chore.

We had some really good weather over Easter and there was lots to enjoy at Lake Vyrnwy – the nature play area was open again, the Easter Bunny had organised a Scavenger Hunt for Sunday, the Lambing events on the farm were busy on Saturday or some people chose to chill out with Forest Bathing. There are more Lambing events before the end of April, more Forest Bathing events later in the year and the play area will remain open. So no excuses, there is lots to do and enjoy and there are lots of reasons to be cheerful.

John, Volunteer Handyman/Tasgmon

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  • We appreciated the new look fencing in front of Coed y Capel hide during our day visit on a bright and warm 23rd April, shame we missed the entertainment during its build :0). The new fence didn't distract the usual vistors to the feeders; Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Siskins, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Nuthatch and Greater Spotted Woodpecker which certainly is a good reason to be cheerful so was the sighting of Swallows fliting in and out of the dam towers and the young lambs in the surrounding fields - The Saunders Family.