Red squirrel image appears with kind permission from Paul Harry. © Paul Harry Photography, 2018
The Towy valley around Rhandirmwyn is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, the mix of habitats giving home to many species of mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, insect and plant.
Otters are sometimes seen near the caravan site and in Llyn Brianne. Badgers, foxes, polecats and hedgehogs are common plus some hares up on the moorland. In the surrounding Towy forest is a small population of red squirrels, the last colony in mid Wales and a conservation scheme is helping to protect them. Pine martens are also present and breeding, following a re-introduction scheme by the Vincent wildlife trust, regular photos of the martens and red squirrels from the forestry appear on trail cameras.
Red kites, buzzards, peregrine and goshawk are in the sky above the village on most days and the ospreys migrate through the valley each year, sometimes pausing on Llyn Brianne; dippers, kingfishers, herons and sand martins are common sightings along the river. For any ornithologist the local RSPB reserve at Dinas is a must to visit, with lots of local information on current species to see.
We have an abundant population of slow worms and lizards but snakes are very rare, frogs, toads and newts are found throughout the area. In the river Towy there are migratory salmon and sewin (sea trout), plus native brown trout.
Insects are prolific, benefitting from the lack of intensive arable agriculture; these provide much needed food for our bird population. Although butterflies are in limited numbers, there are over 200 species of moth recorded here, with the beautiful elephant and poplar hawk moths very common in early summer.
Wild flowers and plants abound, from about mid-May the bluebells at Dinas reserve are spectacular and worth a trip, winberries (bilberries) are common on many hills, and where forestry has been recently felled there is often an explosion of foxgloves and willow herb, turning the hillside purple. Although there is much commercial forestry around us on the hills, the valley has an abundance of mature deciduous trees which provide habitat and shelter for many creatures.
Red squirrel conservation: https://midwalesredsquirrels.org/
Pine Marten recovery project: https://www.vwt.org.uk/projects-all/pine-marten-recovery-project/
RSPB Dinas reserve: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/gwenffrwd-dinas/
Wildlife trust of South and West Wales: https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserves/carmarthenshire/