Nature and wildlife at Dolaucothi
Take a moment to pause on your visit at Dolaucothi and listen to the sounds of the natural world buzzing around you.
The gold mines and the estate offer opportunities to get up close and personal with wildlife, even the mines themselves contain an abundance of wildlife, from spiders to moths and bats and rare fascinating fungi.
Who lives in the mines?
These days nature is very much taking over at Dolaucothi and many species have made the mines their home.
The European Cave Spider (Meta menardi) are repelled by light and choose to live in dark places such as caves and disused mines. The underground workings of the old gold mines make ideal habitats for the spiders, but their camouflage (being dark brown and black the same as shale rock) means that they are tricky to spot. They are there, high up in the darkest corners sitting on their finely woven flat round webs.
Another visitor to the mines are the many different species of bats recorded at Dolaucothi, such as Common pipistrelle, Greater horseshoe, Lesser Horseshoe, Daubenton’s bat, Brandt’s bat, Natterer’s bat, Brown Long Eared Bat and Whiskered bat.
It’s the Greater Horseshoe bat that we see most often in the mines, a bat with the body the size of a small pear and is one of the largest British bat species.
The mines provide a great space for the bats to hibernate in winter and escape to a cool spot in summer. All the gates we’ve installed on our mines have horizontal bars allowing the bats to easily fly in and out of the mines.
Birdlife at Dolaucothi
There are birds everywhere at Dolaucothi, known to occasionally be heard in the mines themselves, although they don’t often venture very far.
Around the estate you’ll see nuthatches, pied wagtails, blackbirds, thrushes and a variety of tits, including long-tailed, as well as the swallows who return to nest every year. You may even be lucky enough to spot a tree-creeper or pied flycatcher. Keep your eyes on the skies where buzzards and red kites often oblige with dazzling displays of aerobatics, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a goshawk.
Every spring we eagerly await one of the highlights of Dolaucothi, the bluebell display towards the end of May. Always a spectacle with swathes of bluebells to be found all around the estate, the parkland walk is particularly good.
Looking after rare species – red squirrels and pine martens
There are two projects active in the Cothi Valley to protect the population of red squirrels and pine martens in the Cothi Valley and encourage the population to spread into nearby land.
We’re involved in the Mid-Wales Red Squirrel Partnership with the Wildlife Trust and other partners alongside supporting the Vincent Wildlife Trust in their efforts to reintroduce the pine marten. New nesting boxes have been erected within our woodlands and on land farmed by our tenants to facilitate their natural spread southwards.