Winter activities of the Elan Links Nature group
Elan Nature; the natural heritage volunteer group of the Elan Links project; has participated in a series of Lichen study days over the winter.
The group was led by local botanist Ray Woods, who has been studying the flora of Radnorshire for a lifetime.
The focus for the group was to learn to identify some of the key species of lichen found in the Elan Valley and then survey some of the woodlands to record where they can be found.
One of the key species looked for was Lobaria pulmonaria (Lungwort)
Lungwort can usually be found on Ash trees, but as the ash trees are now under threat from ash dieback disease, the group attempted to re-locate small sections of the lungwort onto hazel trees. The bark of older hazel trees is similar to that of ash trees, the lichen is quite specific as to the texture and acidity of the substrate it attaches to, and has been threatened in recent years as a result of acid rain and general air pollution.
It will be a few months before we know whether the re-location has been successful.
Another exciting find was a couple of colonies of Sticta fuliginosa, this hadn’t been seen in the Elan Valley since 1993
In April, the Elan Nature group will be getting to grips with the upland birds that can be found in the remotest parts of the Elan Valley.
There will be a series of training days, both in bird identification, and how to be safe in the remotest parts of the Valley. Then the group will independently survey parts of the hill, over a series of dates through the summer.
It is hoped that they will find curlew, golden plover and ring ouzel, all of which have been spotted in the valley, although it is not certain whether they all are nesting there.
The data collected can then be used to help form a plan to improve the habitat of the Elan Valley to encourage more birds to nest there.