Nature & Environment

Parc Taf Bargoed is a countryside park and is managed to encourage wildlife. This means, unlike the amenity parks in the borough, large areas of Parc Taf Bargoed are kept wild to benefit nature. The park's species list boast 77 species of birds and 19 species of butterflies. If you are interested in getting involved in wildlife surveys on the park, have a look at the volunteer section or contact the wardens at the Pavilion.

Habitats

Reedbeds

The park's reedbeds are vitally important as they provide an area of habitat that is very scarce in the UK. Reedbeds have disappeared on a national scale as traditional industries of thatching and basket weaving have all but disappeared, meaning many reedbeds have been allowed to go to wrack and ruin. This of course has led to a massive decrease in the bird species that depend on this habitat, such as the reed warbler, sedge warbler and water rail, all of which have been recorded on the park.

Even more important for the park, however, is the ability of reeds to act as natural water purifiers. As part of the redevelopment of the valley the Coal Authority devised a water treatment scheme, which utilises reed beds as a way of filtering iron ochre and other impurities from the water. The scheme, which is one of the largest of its type in Europe, is on the former site of the Taff Merthyr Colliery and consists of four large settlement lagoons, 16 reed beds and 100,000 individual plants. Water pumped up from the old flooded mineshaft is rich in iron ochre, giving it an orange appearance which can clearly be seen in the lagoons that run alongside the path. A pumping system aerates the water, promoting oxidation of iron which settles out in the open lagoons, before the water is passed into the reedbed system, where the plants filter out any remaining iron ochre. After passing through a number of different reedbeds, the water is returned the Taff Bargoed River, which feeds the lakes, as pure and clean water. Without the reedbed system, the lakes would be heavily polluted, devoid of life and unsuitable for human use.

Rivers, lakes and wetland.

The two lakes on the park were created when the previously submerged Afon Bargoed Taf was returned to the surface after the closure of the mines that used to dominate the site.

The water from the lakes continues through a system of cascades, which have the potential to be harnessed in a hydroelectricity scheme, and are a real feature when in full flow. This provides excellent fast water habitat for dippers, of which 3 pairs have been recorded nesting under the park's bridges. These birds have been the subject of surveys by students from Cardiff University.

The health of the river and lakes is indicated by the presence of otter, kingfisher, toad, frog and newt on the park. We have even had a few possible sighting of water vole, a very rare species! These creatures only thrive where the water quality is of a very high standard.

Tree beds

Fenced tree beds cover a large area of the site and provide excellent habitat for passerine bird species and mammals. Tree species include, ash (Fraxinus excelsior), oak (Quercus sp.), hawthorn (Cratagus monogyna), blackthorn (Rhamnus catharticus), hazel (Corylus acellana), holly (Ilex aquifolium), willow (Salix sp.), alder (Alnus glutinosa) and silver birch (Betula pendula). The understory is made up of crab-apple (Malus sylvestris), gorse (Ulex sp.) dog rose (Rosa canina) and bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg). The wardens of the park carry out a yearly bird nest record scheme and have found nests of song thrush, goldfinch, chaffinch, long-tailed tit, greenfinch and blackbird in the tree beds, illustrating how important this habitat is to our resident birds.

Grassland

A change to the grass cutting programme on the park has seen a marked increase in the number and range of wildflower species. The banks alongside the top lakes, which were previously cut five or six times a year, are now left untouched until the Autumn, long after they have seeded. This will result in a wider range of plant species which is beneficial for insects such as butterflies and bees. The tall grass swathe will also benefit other insects such as beetles, flies and bugs. A similar programme has been agreed with the Coal Board for the banks of the reedbeds, which are teeming with insects during the summer

Woodland

There is a small section of adjoining Barri Woods which extends onto the park. This mature woodland is ideal for a range of species, including birds, mammals and plants. Similar, habitat can be found running very close to the lakeside boundaries of the park, which greatly benefits wildlife.

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Tel: 01685 724952
Last updated: 19.06.2015
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