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Welsh Water

An opportunity I cannot miss!

My time as a Seasonal Ranger has come to an end, with my last official day with them just yesterday. But why you say? You love it at Llandegfedd! This is very true, I do love Llandegfedd, and thankfully, my connection to Llandeg goes much deeper than a Job with Welsh Water, and that connection will never end. 

So what's next? Well, I've been offered a Job as a Specialist Wildlife Researcher for Aden Productions to help produce Iolo Williams' next wildlife documentary for the BBC. It's a great opportunity that I simply cannot turn down, and I can't wait to start with them on the 28th of this month. It will mean some extra travelling but it's well worth it, working alongside like-minded people, all of which share my passion for wildlife. I appreciate all the support from friends and family, as though this change is a good change, I still struggle at times like this as my anxiety can sometimes get the better of me. 

Below are four of my favourite pics from Llandeg last year. I'm sure I'll continue to have many more memorable moments at what is such a fabulous place for wildlife.  

Glorious Ospreys

I've held this off for long enough now. What have I been doing the last couple months? Well, as far as photography is concerned, very little to be fair. I simply haven't found the time. However! after quite a few 5am starts with not one, but three! Ospreys at Llandegfedd, I set out to get a close up shot of these outstanding birds, but in a way that would leave the birds completely undisturbed, showing their natural behaviour, without them knowing I was there. 

I'm very lucky in that I got to observe these birds in and outside of work for the last month and a half, so got to learn a lot of their routine. All three birds are this years Juveniles, one of which was ringed in Scotland and the other two that stayed the longest which I believe may have been siblings due to their interaction and lack of rings. It was the two siblings that really put on the show for us as they appeared to be very much so beginners at catching fish. They would often fail to land on a perch while also trying to hold onto a wriggly, wet fish. They started off catching silver fish, like Roach and Rudd, likely because they are easier to see in the water but they did manage to get better in their time here. It was quite a proud moment watching them catch their first trout! some of which were quite big. There's lots more I learned about Ospreys thanks to these individuals and having them so late in the year was a bonus for us for sure, I just hope they manage to get to Africa in time and safely. They have all left now so fingers crossed for them. 

Spring Toads & New Job

SO! It was only six months ago that I shared the great news that I had got a Job working for the Brecon Beacons National Park, a game changer of a Job that I absolutely love! However it is only a Trainee position with no guarantee of a permanent Job at the end, so during this training I've been keeping my eyes open for other Jobs, hoping that something will come up a little closer to home. A couple months ago, Welsh Water starting advertising for Rangers at Llandegfedd Reservoir. As you'll probably know already, I love Llandegfedd! It's always been that special go-to place that fuelled my wildlife passion. So yesterday I had my interview for the Job and today you can imagine how happy I am to hear that I got the Job. If all goes smoothly in the transfer, I'll be starting in April. 

A short trip to Llandegfedd after college today and you can see why I love this place so much! There is literally Toad fall-out! and I've tried my best to capture the energy in this annual event. There were about 50 males to 4 females so you can imagine the amount of fighting going on. Sometimes you just have to fight your way to victory. 

Goldcrest

Finally got out with the camera for an hour today, visited Llandegfedd with the intension of photographing some Redwing / Fieldfare and all I really got in the camera was this obliging Goldcrest. Bird numbers are really low at Llandegfedd... Water level is the lowest I've ever seen with old buildings showing at the waters edge! This has made it near impossible to get close to the water and it has drawn all the waterfowl to the middle which are then being flushed off by the water sports activity which are for some reason still going on. I had the impression that the water sports (sailing) were meant to stay on the south side of the lake but they were not sticking to those boundaries today with one venturing near the Osprey Pole at the north end. Rant over, I hope you like the photo. 

Llandegfedd / Welsh Water / SSSI Status / Business

I've tried my best to not talk about this for a while as if I'm honest, it's getting me down. To see a site that I love dearly go to ruins is heart breaking. Having fort really hard for wildlife protection and conservation plans for many years, frankly, opening the north side to the public has been the worse thing to happen since Llandegfedd's birth. 

Recently I had to shout down two idiots who thought it was a good idea to rip up the Wild Flower Meadows on a Quadbike. I've got no shame what so ever posting his picture on here because he knew he shouldn't have been doing it because he waited for me to get out of site before opening a non-vehicle access gate while my back was turned. This isn't the first time I've heard this vehicle, in-fact just the day before I heard it riding around the Island but couldn't get back to the water in time to get a photo. 

Theres always a select few that spoil it for everyone but in my opinion, the site should have been kept to permit holders only to rule this problem out entirely. 

After fighting for so long for improvements to be made for the wildlife at Llandegfedd, hides are continuable neglected, no conservation management is done what so ever other than the odd winter grazing which didn't happen last winter. There hasn't been any maintenance for the SSSI status for Wintering Wildfowl in years and yet it's ok for Welsh Water to use this SSSI status for advertised tourism? I can't help be feel angry about this, especially as our 'Wintering Wildfowl' is already turning up.. Clearly the 'wintering' wildfowl didn't read the site closing time memo, perhaps they should fly back to Scandinavia and wait a little longer for the Quadbikes to go home. 

Early Teal 

To top all this off, naturally, with Dog Walkers you get? I never thought in a millions years that I would see this at the North end of Llandegfedd. It was my place of sanctuary and solitude where Foxes, Badgers and wildlife would roam freely in the day and now you'll be lucky to see a Rabbit.

If any rangers are reading this from Llandegfedd, I do apologise, it's not a direct punt at you, you're only doing your Job and what you're being told to do from above. It's the people sat behind the desk that make these decisions for the sake of money, money, money that I have a problem with. Greed as a lot to answer for. 

Take a hint from this Kingfisher, do what is right, a balance needs to be struck, don't forget the wildlife. We need to cherish it all and embrace what makes Wales such a special place. 

Llandegfedd Nestbox Survey Results

While I cannot share sensitive information, the basis of todays survey was pretty defining in that 50% of the boxes onsite needed repairing. A figure that may increase upon checking inside the boxes which is on the agenda for our next visit with a group of volunteers. 

Nestbox Survey

Below is something I knocked up as part of a PDF that I've forwarded to all involved. Sensitive information isn't included and positioning of nest boxes are by no means accurate and to be used only as a guide for our volunteer workforce who will be conducting the work. 5

Llandegfedd Winter Access

As of October 1st, access along the Llandegfedd Trail will be limited. You will no longer have access through the woodland trail leading to the north meadows and the fisherman car park. Despite Welsh Waters obligation, the reasons for shutting this trail are actually nationally important. Llandegfedd is an SSSI for wintering wildfowl which means that once upon a time, Llandegfedd was good for wildfowl! That certainly isn't the case in recent years which makes you think, why is the SSSI still in place? Well, a site of specific scientific interest is meant to be managed according to the subject and apart from shutting a path each winter, nothing else has been done to improve the site for wildfowl for years. All this will hopefully change through monthly meetings and different management agreements but for now, we simply have to deal with the closure and hope that it helps encourage the wildfowl in. With Welsh Waters decision to allow boats on the water up until November, it's an impossible target to try and achieve. 

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