The Tangarreg Pools Project

26/01/2020
When we moved to the house in 2016 we had been looking for somewhere with land for (or already with) pond(s) and the space to build a hide to facilitate bird photography. We also wanted the property to be adjacent to a river. We never anticipated finding somewhere that would tick all of the boxes; but we did. Over the first three to four years we have had four good sized ponds dug with the specific aim of attracting more wildlife - insects (especially dragonflies and damselflies) and birds. We have had three hides constructed - one overlooking the main pond (the Pond Hide), one with a purpose built reflection pool (the Reflection Hide) and one set in a field with a newly planted area of rowan trees and crabapple trees to attract autumn/winter migrants (the Rowan Hide). A large number of bird boxes have been set up around the land to encourage nesting. The project despite still in its infancy has exceeded our expectations for the variety and volume of wildlife that we regularly see on the land. As well as direct observations we have used a set or trail cameras to keep an eye on other areas of the land that are less accessible. To date we have counted over 40 species of birds as regular visitors including bullfinch pairs, nuthatch, redstart (nesting), long-tailed tits and siskin. These birds are not only easily seen but also readily photographed from one of the hides or with care and patience, from the fields. Some of the nesting boxes have been designed to present a natural effect to make nest photographs more natural in appearance. Obviously, great care and patience is required so as not to disturb the birds.
The trail cameras have picked up tawny owl, polecat and otter along the riverside as well as other more typical mammals.
Amphibians have appeared in large numbers with frogs and newts easily seen in spring/summer and toads (with spawn) becoming more apparent in the last year or so. As the pond life increases it is probable that more visitors will come to the ponds to hunt - we have seen heron and kingfisher but not as regular visitors just yet.
Dragonflies have been another great success with the adults appearing in great numbers in summer leaving their exuviae on the pond vegetation. Larvae are visible in the shallows and can be caught for studio based macrophotography along with diving beetle and water-boatmen. An outdoor building is used for the macro work with LED light panels or flash being used to photograph on purpose built sets to present the wildlife in the most natural fashion. Small mammals (voles, mice) can also be photographed in this way.

Examples of photographs from each hide and further information about the hides can be found in the relevant sections.

In late 2020 we plan to open the hides to others for a small charge which will help to cover the costs of their upkeep and the cost of bird seed.