Days out: Nature reserves
OM Orchid Meadows. 1 Rhos Fullbrook. 2 Cors Caron.
3 Llyn Eiddwen and Llyn Fanod.
Just a short hop, skip and a jump from Orchid Meadows is the Rhos Fullbrook Nature Reserve. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, it is managed by the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust. The reserve comprises an area of flower-rich unimproved grassland including numerous flushes which, unusually for this area, are slightly base rich adding an extra dimension to the conservation interest. There is an area of alluvial marsh some woodland and species-rich shrub thicket.
The reserve supports at least 100 flowering plants including betony, bog asphodel, devil’s bit scabious, dyer’s greenweed, heath spotted orchid, heath wood-rush, lesser butterfly orchid, marsh lousewort, petty whin, pignut, sharp-flowered rush, and tormentil. The wet flushes are dominated by sedges: notably carnation sedge, common yellow sedge, flea sedge, star sedge and tawny sedge in association with bog mosses. There is also cross-leaved heath, marsh arrowgrass and the insectivorous species round-leaved sundew and butterwort on the reserve.
An abundance of butterflies, including painted lady and green-veined white, and frequent dragonflies along the stream add interest and both grassland and woodland fungi are well represented in autumn. Water voles use the vegetated stream.
You can easily walk to the reserve from Orchid Meadows and compare notes with what you have found around your yurt, glampavan or cottage here.
Cors Caron National Nature Reserve is a vast area of wetland filling the broad valley of the River Teifi literally just over the road from Orchid Meadows. It is underlain by three areas of raised bog with millions of cubic metres of peat up to 10 metres deep. They are some of the most intact examples of raised peat bog in Britain, having built up over the past 12,000 years.
The list of wildlife species to be found here is extensive. Among birdlife are peregrine falcon, merlin, sparrowhawk, hen harrier, Montagu’s harrier, red kite, buzzard, teal, curlew and grasshopper warbler. Of the 170 or so bird species that have been recorded at Cors Caron, more than 40 breed there. Otters, polecats and adders are rare but rewarding sights and the plant community includes bog asphodel, bog rosemary, heather, heath spotted orchids, bogbean and sundew.
The raised boardwalk provides a great opportunity to experience the most interesting part of the reserve and there are also the longer riverside walk and old railway line trail to explore. There are parking, toilet and information facilities.
Also not far from Orchid Meadows is the Llyn Eiddwen Nature Reserve near Bronnant. A natural upland lake, it is surrounded by moorland and mire and managed by the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The reserve is known for its flora with the lake supporting abundant stands of water lobelia with carpets of shoreweed, spring quillwort and awlwort, here at one of its southernmost locations in the UK. At the southern end, there are extensive beds of bottle sedge and water horsetail which grade into bog vegetation dominated by cotton grass and Sphagnum moss.
The lake is important locally for wintering wildfowl, including coot, mallard, pochard, teal, and wigeon together with whooper swans. Water voles inhabit the shoreline, beyond which are brown trout, pike, minnow and three-spined stickleback.
The surrounding area of upland heathland and acidic grassland is typical of this part of mid-Wales and includes mat grass, bilberry, heath bedstraw, sheep’s fescue, tormentil and heather. North of the lake is small mire with a good cover of bog mosses with cotton grass, bog asphodel, cranberry and round-leaved sundew.
The smaller Llyn Fanod nearby is a sister upland lake and also a nature reserve. A range of aquatic plants occur, including water lobelia, quillwort, shoreweed and awlwort. In high summer there is a spectacular display of white water lily and yellow water lily and the lake is particularly good for dragonflies, damselflies and caddis flies.