Crychan Woods is a beautiful, dark forest covering
4,000 hectares of land between the Brecon Beacons and the Cambrian Mountains in
It's a top wildlife spot for
watching rare birds and amphibians.
wealth of recreational opportunities. Photo - Brian Hanwell|
working forest is run by the Forestry Commission and is still worked for timber,
creating a mosaic of habitats from young conifer plantations to ancient deciduous
As a result the forest is in constant flux and the mix of woodland
is excellent for wildlife including birds and amphibians.
forest is home to some birds which are normally very difficult to spot including
the Nightjar, the Goshawk and the Black Cap.
There are only about 450 pairs
of Goshawks to be found in Britain so Crychan is fortunate to have a sizeable
population of them.
These birds spend a lot of time in woodland, making
them very hard to spot, but Crychan has one of the highest densities of these
birds in Britain.
You're most likely to see the birds out hunting in the
woods - they are ferocious hunters and eat a huge variety of birds from songbirds
The Goshawk looks a little like a Sparrowhawk but they are much
bigger and have a distinctive orange eye - the males are also a third smaller
than the females.
There are several Goshawk nests at Crychan, but remember
not to disturb them as they are a specially protected 'schedule one bird'.
Crychan woods there are large areas of clear fell where areas of forest have been
It's here that you're most likely to find Nightjar - this well
camouflaged bird is best seen at dusk.
Another rarity is the Black Cap,
one of the most beautiful woodland song birds in spring.
arrive from Africa, the females sporting a brown cap.
creature that has made a migration to the wood is the Common Newt which lives
in the woodland ponds.
These amphibians have made a considerable journey
from the surrounding woodland where they spend most of the year out of water.
come to the pool in spring to breed and, unlike toads and frogs which lay masses
of eggs at once, they lay seven to 12 eggs a day, eventually laying up to 400
over a few weeks.
The eggs hatch two-three weeks later as tadpoles - ten
weeks after that they metamorphose into air-breathing juvenile newts, ready to
crawl back into the forest.
Newts are usually very difficult to spot but
when the water is crystal clear and free of weeds, you can see them in their environment
with out disturbing them.
photographs courtesy of Brian Hanwell and the Forestry Commission.