The Wye, Elan, Irfon and Ithon Valleys are easily accessible from the Field Centre and, taken together with the Llysdinam Estate itself, offer access to an exciting range of habitats that characterize Mid-Wales. These include rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, together with a range of woodland types from hillside Sessile Oak to wet Alder "werns". There are also peatlands and meadows of national importance within a few minutes drive.
Some of the old hay meadows in this area are amongst the richest in the UK in floristic terms with over 100 species of flowering plants. These include characteristic species such as Wood Bitter-vetch (Vicia orobus), Meadow Thistle (Cirsium dissectum), Saw-wort (Serratula tinctoria), Dyer's Greenweed (Genista tinctoria), Petty Whin (Genista anglica) and Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor).
The peatlands, whether blanket peat in the uplands or the lowland raised bogs such as Rhosgoch and the structurally rare "schwingmoor" at Cors y Llyn NNR, are dominated by Sphagnum mosses, with a wide range of ericaceous plants and at least three genera of insectivorous species.
For rarity, the banks of the River Wye support one of the last UK remnant populations of Rock Cinquefoil (Potentilla rupestris) and Stanner Rocks the only British population of the Early Star of Bethlehem (Gagea bohemica). For a full description of the local flora see R. G. Woods Flora of Radnorshire.
Mammals and Birds
Trapping small mammals at Llysdinam is likely to catch Common, Pygmy (and rarely) Water Shrews, Wood and Yellow-necked Mice and Bank and Field Voles - but the occasional Weasel is not unknown! Stoats, Polecats, Mink and Otters are certainly present and the elusive Pine Martin probably passes this way as well. Rabbits, Hares, Hedgehogs, Moles, Grey Squirrels and Foxes are frequent to abundant and we have a few easily-observable Badger setts. Eight species of bat have been recorded around Llysdinam - although there could be more! At one time over 1000 Pipistrelles roosted in an Estate building and although, in 2009, the number was down to just over 300, it is still impressive to see them emerge - and hear them if using a bat detector.
The diversity of habitat provides for a wide variety of bird species. From the Wye Bridge in the village you may see Dippers, Kingfishers, Mallards, Goosanders, Herons, Sandpipers and Yellow Wagtails and, in spring and autumn, migrating Ospreys follow the course of the river. The summer woodlands of Mid-Wales are rather special, filled as they are with annual migrant birds. Pride of place goes to the Pied Flycatcher, a migrant bird of Western Britain which utilises woodland nest-boxes and has done so, at Llysdinam, since they were first provided in 1911, making this one of the oldest nest-box schemes in existence. For a few weeks, in May and June, the Pied Flycatcher shares the mainly Sessile Oak woodlands with Wood and Garden Warblers, Redstarts and Blue and Great Tits, with Buzzards, Red Kites, Sparrow-hawks and Goshawks nesting in the canopy. A visit to the hills above the Elan Valley could well reward you with Wheatear, Golden Plover, Peregrine Falcon and Merlin, or a wandering Hen Harrier, depending on the time of year and your good fortune.
Fish and Amphibians
The Llysdinam section of the River Wye was once known as a 300-fish beat but, today, the annual catch of Salmon tends to be only one-hundredth of that. Nevertheless, the species is recovering and the main river and its tributaries are typical Salmon/Brown Trout streams, often with Grayling, the occasional Shad Eel and Chub. Of the non-sporting fish, Bullheads, Stone Loach and Brook, Sea and River Lampreys provide food for other river dwellers.
All five common British amphibians occur at Llysdinam and studies here over the last 30 years have shown their population fluctuations and changing phenology.
Insects and other Invertebrates
Few detailed studies of insects have been undertaken at Llysdinam, with the exception of moths, which have been recorded every day for over 30 years using a Rothamsted Moth Trap. River invertebrates are, however, frequently used in studies by visiting groups. A considerable amount of work has been undertaken from the Field Centre on the declining native White-clawed Crayfish which is still present in the Mid-Wales catchment.
Llysdinam Field Centre as a base
For visiting groups we can offer self-catering dormitory-style accommodation for up to about 30, together with fully-equipped field laboratories - for details contact the Director. With our central location in Wales we can also offer low-cost, basic meeting facilities with refreshments for small groups - and you can go to a local pub for lunch!