A successful first nest box season at Lofftwen

In October last year we put up the first of our new Lofftwen bird boxes, courtesy of volunteer bird experts, Paul & Sue Hazell. Delighted to report that all of the small boxes were successfully occupied. Nesting birds included pied wagtail, great tit, blue tit, nuthatch, coal tit, stonechat, red start and pied flycatcher. We’ve also had swallows and black birds nesting in one of our barns. 

Alongside the nest boxes, over the course of the year we’ve also been lucky enough to have seen or heard dunnock, house sparrow, wren, greater spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, meadow pipit, tree creeper, willow warbler, grasshopper warbler, sky lark, field fare, chiffchaff, gold finch, bull finch, yellow hammer, house martin, swift, cuckoo, buzzard, raven, red kite, osprey (fly over), tawny owl, barn owl and kestrel. Many of these birds are on the red/amber lists for UK conservation, so it’s really rewarding to see them at Lofftwen, sometimes in large numbers too.

Paul and Sue’s commitment to the birds is unrelenting! The bird boxes have all come down and been cleaned out ready for redeployment alongside a run of new boxes. In fact, we’ve got enough boxes now that we’ve had to start numbering them (see picture below) so it’s easier to identify which birds are nesting where. A huge thank you to Paul & Sue for all their dedication and hard work. Here’s to more nesting birds at Lofftwen for next season!

New feathered friends moving in at Lofftwen

Back in October 2018, spearheaded by local bird experts Paul & Sue Hazell, we put up the first new bird boxes at Lofftwen. It’s always difficult to know what the response will be from potential new inhabitants but amazingly all three small boxes near the Lofftwen farmhouse have been taken up already. They include a pair of nesting nuthatches, blue tits and, perhaps most exciting of all, European pied flycatchers. The latter are a conservation red species with only 17,000-20,000 breeding pairs throughout the UK.

Paul & Sue have also built and installed some larger bird boxes with specifically tailored designs for Tawny Owl, Barn Owl and Little Owl (Kestrel box too coming soon). I nearly bumped into a Barn Owl on one of my first ever visits to Lofftwen (still a treasured memory to get that close but not sure the Barn Owl felt the same!) and the calls of Tawny Owls regularly accompany us around the campfire, so we know they are around, and we can’t wait for the day they decide to move into their new abodes.

There are too many bird species to list here (more on that coming soon) but of particular note we’ve also seen or heard Redstarts, Yellowhammers, Bullfinches, Green Woodpeckers and Cuckoos, and on the upland areas we are teeming with ground nesting birds, such as Meadow pipits and Skylarks. Many of these birds have amber and red UK conservation status, so as sad as that is in general, it is great to see them making their mark here on the farm, often in significant numbers too. And this feels like just the beginning…

What's in a name? Lofftwen, Loftwen, Lloftwen

On more than one occasion we have been asked in passing why we decided to adopt the spelling of “Lofftwen” with two ‘f’s, as many from previous generations who grew up in and around the farm were used to spelling it with just the one: “Loftwen”. Our standard response is that we used the same spelling as was on the title deeds when buying the property (see plan bottom left). Recently, whilst conducting research on the farm we came across an old tithe map from 1817 (bottom right) and were tickled to find a third spelling with two ‘l’s and one ‘f’: “Lloftwen”. Even more interesting was to see another area of the farm known as Foss y Fign written as Foes Vigin.

Whatever spelling you choose, to butcher one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines, “That which we call Lofftwen, By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Lofftwen Damson Gin & Vodka courtesy of the talented Berni

One of our ambitions in the future is to have Lofftwen products created by working in partnership with local experts. It was with great surprise and pleasure therefore to be presented with bottles of damson gin & vodka lovingly made by our talented neighbour, Berni, using damsons picked at Lofftwen.

Berni is a skilled stained glass artist who runs workshops and retreats from her Cerdyn Villa B&B which is a perfect place to stay if you are heading to mid-Wales (9.6 rating on Booking.com and 5 stars on Tripadvisor says all you need to know!). Check them out at www.cerdynvilla.co.uk and @cerdynvillaBandB. You may even get to try a tipple or two of Lofftwen booze if there is any left!

New bird boxes with the help of the Hazell family

It is with enormous pride and gratitude that today we put up the first bird boxes of the new Lofftwen era. Spearheading this project are Paul and Sue Hazell whose collective birding knowledge appears to have no end! Not only have the Hazell’s been extremely generous in giving their time and advice freely about encouraging more birds at Lofftwen, but they have also made and installed the bird boxes on the farm. These include species-specific bird boxes for both barn owls and little owls.

We can’t thank them enough, so this post is a little shout out to them and a big “thank you!” from Lofftwen and its future birding population.

Summer gives way to Autumn

Like many people I feel a sense of comfort in the changing seasons. With weather patterns becoming increasingly unpredictable it comes with an extra layer of comfort when the weather behaves as we think it should. This morning was as such as I awoke to a beautiful crisp autumn morning mist and the, albeit delusional, feeling that everything is right with the world…