Neath heron nests under threat due to killer larch disease
HERON today, gone tomorrow — that is the fear of a group of bird conservationists from Cilfrew.
They claim their favourite sedge of herons may be forced to move from their woodland home near Neath.
This, they said, was because the larch trees they had nested in for years had been blighted by disease and condemned by Forestry Commission Wales (FCW).
One of the group, Mike Davies, urged the authorities to spare the trees in question at Craig Gwladus Country Park, which is owned by Neath Port Talbot Council.
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The Post has been told it would be illegal to fell them during the heron nesting season, which is generally March and April, but can be from February to July.
An FCW spokesman said he did not know the exact felling schedule for the site, but added: "The priority for us has to be controlling the disease (Phytophthora ramorum). If you don't do anything, the disease would spread and put other areas at risk. What we would not do is allow any felling while the nests are occupied."
Keen photographer Mr Davies said: "The woods are known for wildlife and in particular the colony of grey heron which have been arriving here for the past 30-plus years to breed their young. In 2012 we had 20 adults getting ready for the breeding season. I have photographed them for the past 20 years."
Mr Davies said herons took years to complete their nests, arriving in January to check on them before checking out potential mates.
"It would be such devastation to cut down the trees as it is always a welcoming sign to see their return," said Mr Davies, of Cadoxton.
"Surely something can be done to spare these particular trees that the herons are nesting in?"
Hundreds of thousands of larches have been felled in the Afan Valley to contain the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, which kills trees via lesions that exude fluid from infected bark.