Of our five hides, Marian Mawr is the most accessible, and the most popular. Look North at this time of year and you might see barnacle geese feeding on the saltmarsh, or shelduck on the Dyfi. Look West to the freshwater pools, and you may see teal, redshank and little grebe. We want people to come here and be impressed with the wildlife spectacle – large numbers of ducks, waders and geese – but this is not always the case.
Many water birds are wary of woodland, as trees provide roosting opportunities for avian predators. Our pools sit next to ancient oak woodland, which is an incredibly diverse habitat, but one which represents a very formidable, natural barrier to waterfowl. Next time you are in the hide and not seeing much in the way of birds, try taking a (water) bird’s eye view of your geographical location, and be patient.
Over the years I have seen leeches, eels, herons, a heron eating an eel, short eared owl, hen harrier, goshawk, kingfisher, grass snake, toads and otter here. Lots of wildlife use these pools, just not always, and not all the time.
There are other issues dissuading birds from visiting: sparsely vegetated pools, perhaps due to salt water incursion, leaving little to feed on; the water is too deep for many of the birds we wish to attract; the pool edges are too steep, too abrupt for waders, and there is little mud – but these are either outside our control, or not so easily addressed.
Part of our routine habitat management here is to remove scrub, and over the last few weeks we have been strimming rush and bramble, and removing trees, on the islands (we always leave some overhanging branches for kingfishers and dragonflies). Things will look a little scruffy for a while, but we hope that this work will encourage lapwings to breed here.
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