March and April 2023

We have been continuing with some clearing work along the path edges but we are being very careful to ensure we cause minimum disturbance to wildlife, and we keep away from any potential nesting site area. We leave a lot of dead wood in place, or it is moved carefully ELF CAPto create wildlife habitat piles in the centre of the new woodland areas. Dead wood is a very valuable habitat for mosses, lichens, and fungi, as well as many insects and rodents. If put in piles these can also be used by some bird species, such as blackcap and willow warbler which we see and hear regularly here in the spring and summer months.

The pretty and very colourful elf cups (which could be either Sarcoscypha austriaca or Sarcoscypha coccinea – they are difficult to tell apart) have grown on some of the dead timber and among the leaf litter in the damp areas. These are a food source for rodents and slugs. They apparently make a tiny puffing sound when they release their spores into the air but none of us have heard this yet! In European folklore, it was said that wood elves drank morning dew from the cups. Other common names for this species include scarlet elf caps, moss cups and fairies’ baths.

At the beginning of March the frogspawn had hatched (they take around three weeks to hatch) and the tadpoles are growing quickly in the new pond.

One of our customers reported watching two holly blue butterflies flying together above the wildflower1683114477947 meadow in the middle of April. Keith managed to get this lovely picture of a male orange tip butterfly resting on a dandelion seed head. We are also seeing green-veined white and peacock butterflies.

1683293709658Keith managed to get some wonderful photos of this dark edged bee fly on the 15th April.. The shutter speed of the camera matched the speed of the wings, showing off the yawing motion of its flight. This is a cute bee mimic! It is one of the earliest bee flies to emerge in spring, having pupated during the winter. The adult may look cute but at its larval stage it is a predator of the eggs and larvae of other insects. The adult females usually deposit eggs in the vicinity of possible hosts (beetles, wasps or solitary bees). When the larvae hatch they eat the larvae of bees and wasps in their nests.

During March the robin, dunnock, mistle thrush and song thrush sing whilst we work as do the wrens, blackbirds, chaffinch, and the various common species of tits, including a willow tit, only recognisable from its distinctive and repeated nasal call: tchu tchu, tchu. A pair of tiny goldcrest flit among the trees, their golden crests adding a splash of colour to the browns and greys of the branches, still devoid of leaves. Ravens croak overhead and jackdaws call ‘tchack’. Sometimes we disturb wood pigeons. We seem to have a regular pair. It is a good time to1683114477978 learn bird song of our common residents, before the spring migration brings in other species from abroad. The migratory birds started to appear here in April and our resident birds were joined by willow warbler, blackcap, chiffchaff and swallow. The migrant starlings were still here in abundance until the third week in March and then they left to return to Eastern Europe.


Alt-y-garreg is a 20-acre nature reserve created in 2010 from four fields that had been improved pasture. There are areas of new woodland (over eighteen thousand trees of eighteen native species), wildflower meadows, scrub and ancient hedgerows. Two of the fields are now a natural burial site. The area is teeming with wildlife. A list of species we have seen on the site can be found here.