Across our mosaic of lakes, streams, marsh, semi-natural woodland, meadows and formal gardens we provide a home to thousands of wild species. These include
- over 500 types of butterfly and moth
- 70 species of bees
- 80 species of hoverflies
- over 500 native plant species
- more than 100 varieties of birds
- frogs, toads and palmate newts
- common lizards, grass snakes and slow worms
- twenty species of mammal including dormice, otters and bats.
We can also boast of over 180 types of lichen, many rare types of fungi and 100+ varieties of moss. We even know of 26 types of snail.
So why is there so much wildlife?
The soil here is fertile. Boulder clay, dumped when glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago, has mixed in with the underlying sandy and silty soils derived from Old Red Sandstone bedrock below.
The climate is wetter and warmer than much of Britain and the air is kept clean by prevailing Atlantic winds.
But the main reason may be that large parts of our organically farmed Waun Las National Nature Reserve escaped the kind of over-intensive management which removed native plants from much of the British countryside during the 20th century. So rare plants and fungi, such as greater butterfly orchid, whorled caraway and waxcap fungi, together with a large range of invertebrates such as crickets, bugs, butterflies and moths, have had a safe home on our meadows.
Badgers have been allowed to root amongst the mossy grassland for their main diet of earthworms and otters to hunt on the wet meadows for amphibians in spring. The tussocky nature of some of the grassland encourages voles, which in turn feed barn owls and other birds of prey, such as the great success story for Welsh nature conservation, the red kite.
We also have pockets of diverse semi-natural woodland. Boggy alder carr woodland near the Gatehouse contrasts with the drier oak, ash and hazel woods of Pont Felin Gat in the northern end, where bluebell, anemone and golden saxifrage carpet the ground in spring. These are rich in birds, ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi. They also provide a home for the dormouse, one of Britain’s most endangered mammals.