Species and Habitats
Our Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) is a working document that has been produced by a partnership of organisations concerned with the wildlife conservation. The LBAP contains a series of action plans covering the nationally threatened or declining species and habitats in the county, as well as species and habitats of local concern.
It includes for example, action plans for lowland meadows, upland oak woods, red squirrel and water vole. Each action plan includes actions aimed at safeguarding that particular habitat or species.
If these actions are to succeed, they will require individuals and organisations to work together in partnership – including land owners, government agencies, wildlife conservation groups, local authorities and industry.
Amphibians and reptiles (together known as herpetofauna) are ancient groups of animals and representative species of both groups occur in Carmarthenshire.
Priority BAP species that occur in the county are common lizard, slow worm, grass snake, adder and common toad.
Barn owls (Tyto alba – Tylluan Wen) are perhaps the one of the most cosmopolitan of all land birds and occur in suitable habitat over most of the world’s land mass.
In Britain they typically occur on farmland where they breed in quiet buildings or holes in hedgerow trees and hunt over open fields and around farmyards where they feed in areas of rough, often under grazed grassland that hold good populations of small mammals.
This plan covers a range of bat species identified as priority BAP species in Wales that occur or are likely to occur in Carmarthenshire: common and soprano pipistrelle, barbastelle, noctule, brown long-eared, greater and lesser horseshoe bats.
As bats often roost together and have similar requirements it can be taken that all other species known or likely in Carmarthenshire will be included in the plan: whiskered, Brandt’s Natterer’s, Daubenton’s and Serotine.
The brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae - Brithribin brown) is an elusive butterfly, living almost exclusively in tree canopy, and thus seldom seem without binoculars, telescope or a lot of luck.
Adults are however on the wing from late July through to early October, but it is usually only females that are ever seen low down, usually whilst egg laying on young blackthorn bushes in August or September.
The brown hare (Lepus europaeus, Ysgyfarnog) is a widespread but declining species in Britain, which occurs mainly in the agricultural lowlands, although it can be seen up to altitudes of 500 m.
At a UK level inhabits both arable and pasture land, although it appears to be most abundant in mixed arable systems. Locally mixed arable is rare and the brown hare appears to prefer the rush pastures and middle altitude land, i.e. the edges of the uplands.
Brownfield sites can often remain unused for many years and recolonisation by plants and animals on these undisturbed areas can lead to the development of a diverse flora and fauna with a complex succession of habitats forming a mosaic (patchwork), from bare ground to grassland, scrub and woodland.
These areas often provide alternative habitats for many species that have declined due to loss of their native habitats in the wider countryside because of intensification of agriculture and urbanisation.
Almost Carmarthenshire’s entire coast is made up of priority BAP habitats. These habitats are the transition between the land and the sea and can be very dynamic, changing with time.
The dormouse is a small nocturnal mammal which feeds mainly on nuts, fruit, flowers and insects. They are typically associated with ancient coppiced woodland and small copses linked by species-rich hedgerows.
Carmarthenshire’s agricultural landscape is one of the defining features of the county. Species-rich hedgerows with mature hedgerow trees are a significant landscape and historic feature.
The county has a rich and intricate network of rivers and streams , ranging from narrow, deeply incised upland streams to the more gentle lowland meandering sections of the river Tywi.
Despite being an iconic British mammal there is much to find out about the hedgehog population in Carmarthenshire. Little is known of their numbers or distribution but, along with the rest of the country, there seems to be a decline in their numbers.
The little ringed plover is a summer visitor to Wales – generally arriving in March and leaving in June/July.
It nests on shingle banks and feeds on insects and their larvae, supplemented by spiders, small molluscs and worms.
Grassland habitats all contribute to the rich landscape and habitat diversity within the county and are the habitats of some of our most important and declining species.
All were much more widespread in the past and have suffered significant declines.
The Carmarthenshire marine and coast is one of the defining landscapes of the county, contributing significantly to its overall character and if of importance for our local economy drawing visitors and inward investment.
The marsh fritillary is an attractive butterfly that is usually on the wing from mid May until mid June. The larvae live communally in a silk web on devil’s-bit scabious and they can be easily identified in late summer.
The European otter is one of Britain’s largest carnivores. Otters are largely nocturnal and live along rivers but will also utilise canals, ditches, marshes, lakes and adjacent scrub and wetland areas.
The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is Britain’s only native squirrel. It has experienced a severe decline in recent times, linked to the spread of the grey squirrel, which was introduced to Britain from North America in the late nineteenth century.
In Carmarthenshire small-flowered catchfly has mainly been associated with industrial sites and was first recorded at Llanelli Dock by Motley in 1836.
The tree sparrow is a smaller rural cousin of the more familiar house sparrow. Unlike that species, the tree sparrow’s plumage is the same in both sexes and is distinguished mainly by its chocolate brown cap and a black cheek spot.
The grouped habitat action plan includes upland heathland, blanket bog, upland flushes, fens and swamps and inland rock outcrop and scree habitats.
The water vole in Carmarthenshire was once much more widespread but its present distribution is highly localised, the main populations being found on the Llanelli levels including the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust at Penclacwydd.
Wetlands are one of our most important natural resources. They support many native wildlife species including important wetland plants, invertebrates, including dragonflies, birds, otter and water vole. They form part of a healthy and functional landscape.
Carmarthenshire has a good proportion of woodland habitats in Wales. An excellent example is Castle Woods in Llandeilo.
Here you can find a good range of breeding birds including great spotted, lesser spotted and green woodpecker, treecreeper, nuthatch, redstart, pied and spotted flycatcher. Resident birds of prey include sparrow hawk, buzzard and tawny owl.
Page updated on: 03/05/2016