Monday, 21 November 2016

Forest Farm and Glamorganshire Canal are Great Places for Nature

Forest Farm Reserve and the Glamorganshire Canal

Photo: Steve Andrews

Just on the outskirts of Cardiff lies a wonderful area for nature that I have been visiting since I was a boy. I am talking about Glamorganshire Canal and the Forest Farm Nature Reserve, which offer long stretches of freshwater, pools and wetland habitats, forests and fields.

Photo: Steve Andrews

There are several ways to get there but I usually walk up through Hailey Park in Llandaff North and continue along Ty-Mawr Road that goes past the old Melingriffith Tin and Iron Works and the old water wheel which is still there as a relic of the South Wales industrial past. The Melingriffith Works that were founded sometime before 1750, closed in 1957.  At the end of the road you reach the end of Velindre Road, which is part of the suburb of Whitchurch.

Here you can either go into the Forest Farm reserve or wander along the banks of the canal, which ends below Tongwynlais and in the area of the Coryton Interchange. It is also possible to get there by crossing the River Taff from Radyr.

Herons and Kingfishers

Photo: Steve Andrews

Birdwatchers can easily spot herons in this area and if lucky you can get a glimpse of the kingfisher too as it hunts for prey in the waters of the canal. I remember seeing one there many years back and it inspired me to write a song, aptly entitled Kingfisher.

Kingfisher 'live' at the Andrew Buchan

Mallard ducks are very common here and can be seen on the Glamorgan Canal and on the feeder which runs alongside it, as are moorhens. Water rail, snipe, dippers and reed warblers are also reported from Forest Farm Reserve. Even the elusive bittern have been seen here.

Photo: Steve Andrews

Beech and Oak

Beech and oak are the main trees that grow alongside the Glamorganshire Canal and in the Long Wood. Some of the trees are said to be 200 years old. In autumn the dead leaves in their brown and golden autumnal shades can be seen coating the ground and floating on the canal’s surface.

Common Toads
Common toads gather to spawn in the canal in springtime, and I remember when some ponds many miles away on the banks of Llandaff Weir were destroyed many years ago. I remember seeing toad tadpoles in the canal that year and wondered if it was possible that some of the displaced toads had somehow found the canal even though it was miles away. I often wonder what amphibians do when they return to spawning grounds to find them gone.

Grass Snakes
I have seen grass snakes swimming in the Glamorgan Canal too. It is good to know these once much more common reptiles, have found a home here.

In summer the surface of a lot of the Glamorgan Canal is covered by the large rounded leaves of the yellow water lily. However, when I recently visited in late autumn they had all died back. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my recent walk along this canal that is an interesting place to visit all year around.
Photo: Steve Andrews

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