This is the time of year we frequently read in the press threats of a harsh winter ahead, the worst since 1962 and all the disruption that will bring to the area.
At Llandegfedd however it remains business as usual. The café is still serving delicious breakfasts, lunch and afternoon teas. In the gift shop Welsh gifts and Christmas decorations make a striking display alongside a traditional dressed tree.
The fishing boats are all off the water ready for the rangers to complete their winter refurbishment and recreational access to the water is now closed to protect the environment for our wintering wildfowl.
In the water sports centre wetsuits have been deep cleaned and hung up for the winter. The building however has not gone into hibernation and is now getting extensive use as a meeting and conference centre and has also been hired for yoga classes, exhibitions and floral demonstrations.
It is outside however where some of the most significant changes are taking place as our winter visitors fly in from their summer homes. Over the next few weeks we will welcome the return of large numbers of wildfowl escaping their colder habitats in Northern Europe, Scandinavia and Russia. Llandegfedd is one of the major sites for migratory birds in Wales and over 240 bird species have been recorded at the reservoir.
During the winter months we also welcome a number of local bird watchers and enthusiasts to view the arrival of the birds.
This reservoir is the largest inland open water habitat in the county and since being first filled in 1963 has developed into one of the three regionally important overwintering wildfowl refuges in Wales, which is why much of our site is closed over the winter months. The site is particularly important for the overall numbers and variety of wintering wildfowl, with large numbers of wigeon, pochard and mallard choosing to winter at Llandegfedd. Other notable species include goosander, teal and goldeneye.
The area around the reservoir includes large grassland areas which are important for feeding and roosting wildfowl as well as woodland and scrub ground.
Llandegfedd is a 434 acre lake and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, due to the richness of overwintering wildfowl. At the North End are the important grasslands, managed as hay meadows to encourage the spread of wild flowers. The short grass left is grazed by sheep to keep it low for winter wildfowl. Otters are also present and we have a good population of harvest mice and possibly one or two dormice.
The lake is heavily stocked with rainbow trout which can often be seen leaping from the water and remains home to the British record pike, a whopping 46lb 13oz fish caught in 1991.
This year’s pike fishing season in September and October delivered a very healthy 32lb fish. Next September Llandegfedd will be hosting a fly fishing home international competition, quite an honour for the site having only re-opened for fishing this year after the building of the visitor and watersports centres.
So as the autumn landscape changes around the reservoir and the evenings draw in there is still lots to see while enjoying a meal or afternoon tea in the café.
We recommend a pair of binoculars to take full advantage and see how many different species you can spot on the water.