Saturday saw the first guided walk of the year at The Grasslands Trusts’ Carmel National Nature Reserve. In the spirit of co-operation and common aims the Trust linked up with the nearby Country Park, Llyn Lech Owain to put on a “Soup Walk”. Twenty participants with interests in walking, nature or possibly just soup undertook the mile walk from the Country Park to Carmel and back stopping to have a hot lunch and be shown around the reserve.
With spring currently chasing the tail end of winter away the early signs of the exuberance to come are showing. Primroses are well ahead of other woodland flowers though small numbers have been flowering all through the winter. Maybe they’re guilty of a false start. They are significantly more abundant than last year in the woodland coupe that was coppiced this winter. The extra light that’s hitting the ground is something that they’ve really taken advantage of.
We glimpsed a couple of bumblebees skimming over the ground as we went through the reseeve. At this time of the year only the Queens are flying, searching for suitable nest sites and feeding on bluebell flowers and catkins. None of us were skilled enough to identify which species they were but this summer The Grasslands Trust in partnership with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is holding a series of training sessions. These sessions will enable participants to identify bumblebees and their close relatives and learn about the conservation requirements of this very important group of insects.
Along with the bees the birds were also taking their cue and making their presence known. The walk was accompanied by lots of bird song and the occasional meows of buzzards and caws of ravens. This winter volunteers have put up an additional twenty nest boxes in anticipation of more blue tits, robins and nuthatches making use of the accommodation and the hope that this year one of the pairs of the spotted flycatchers that visit the reserve will also do so.
It’s too early of course for the grassland plants to be in flower but there is evidence that some of the animals living in the fields and meadows are active. Male moles are obviously aware that spring is in the air and are out and about searching for mates. Although being moles they’re not actually out but they are certainly about. At the start of the breeding season male moles enlarge their territories over large areas in search of females. The hundreds of meters of tunnels this effort entails is evidenced by the large numbers of new mole hills to be seen at this time of year.