By Ben Rees.
Cwm Clydach Kites and Dippers is in its fourth year – and we have had another eventful one. Highlights include seeing the youngsters huddled within the cold bird hides at WWT Llanelli Wetlands. Whilst there, we were lucky enough to see a peregrine falcon hunting, a great white egret and many wintering ducks and waders. In February, Kites and Dippers proved itself to be a formidable workforce, as always, by planting alder buckthorn on the reserve. In the true spirit of the RSPB, we decided to give nature a home, so in June our members made bug hotels.
We were lucky enough to have Dr Dan Foreman, head of Zoology at Swansea University, give us a talk on reptiles and amphibians in the spring and on otters in the autumn. We discovered that a few members are particularly good at the art of mushroom spotting, when we did a fungi forage in October’s event.
The teenage section of our group (Phoenix) has also had a very busy year. During the spring/summer we took part in the ancient woodland survey which was organised by Swansea Council’s Nature Conservation Team. This involved searching an area of woodland for indicator species that may give a suggestion of its age. During the spring we were monitoring our nest boxes as usual at Cwm Clydach. Although this year’s boxes have been less successful than before, we still managed to have 11 blue tit and 1 great tit families fledge.
A few of our more adventurous members took part in a very wild sleep out. We slept in shelters made from sticks and insulated with bracken with our evening meal and breakfasts cooked over an open fire. Gareth, one of the leaders was even more daring and spent the night sleeping in a hammock!
Earlier this year, I applied for grants from 02 Think Big and from Fords and was lucky enough to obtain both. We have used this to set up an interactive trail at Cwm Clydach to allow visitors to learn more about its nature and history. Members spent a lot of time placing posts throughout the reserve; each has been decorated by members using a pyrographic set. The information about what is around each post can be seen on our website or by scanning the QR code on our information board at the reserve entrance. This winter we will be embarking on another project, funded by a grant from Sainsbury’s – building a raised pond on the reserve, which will be used for pond dipping to educate young visitors on pond life.
We are pleased to announce that one of our most dedicated and knowledgeable members, William Walsh, has successfully been elected onto the Phoenix forum (this is my 4th year on the forum). The Phoenix forum is a group of 10 teenagers from around the UK that represent young people within the RSPB, the only two Welsh representatives are both from Kites and Dippers, so this is a very big achievement for the group.
Kites and Dippers is always open to new members, so if you know/are a young person aged 8 to 18 then please feel free to get in contact, we look forward to seeing you.