This small Nature Reserve run by Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust is a little gem situated close to the town of Welshpool.
Llyn Coed y Dinas was created from a gravel pit that provided the hardcore for the Welspool Bypass. It is now home to over 150 bird species, a similar number of butterfly and moth species and several dragonflies and damselflies. Otters and grass snakes have both been spotted, pointing to an abundance of small mammals.
Facilities at the reserve include a natural play area (including a mud kitchen, log seating, and a little hut with coloured windows that my grandchildren adore), covered and open picnic tables, and an amazing bird hide. The hide is beautifully decorated on the inside with murals depicting the birds you can spot from inside the hide. There are windows which open for photographers and a window almost to the floor for young observers, plus wooden bench seating.
The paths throughout the reserve are hard, level and suitable for wheelchair users. The path to the hide gets a little muddy in places, but it's not deep. As mentioned, this is a small reserve, and it only takes 10 minutes to complete the circular route with a little extra for the spur that leads to the hide. There is a mix of wetland, woodland, and an orchard to see along the route, with plentiful flowering plants and insects to observe.
While I have visited, I've spotted Lapwings, a Little Egret, Cormorants, Reed Warblers, Crested Grebes, Coots, Moorhens and the usual range of Ducks, Geese and Gulls. Yesterday, I focused on a family of Reed Warblers that included two juveniles. They were in the reed bed immediately below the bird hide.
Reed Warblers are summer visitors to our shores, migrating from Africa to breed. They create open woven nests between the stems of the reeds. They are difficult to spot as they are well camouflaged, hidden among the reeds. When raising young, the adults are likely to be glimpsed as they hop to the top of the reeds and set off in search of food. The usual summer diet is insects, which are highly nutritious. In the autumn, or when not raising young, they will also eat berries.
These quick and agile birds can be a challenge to photograph, but with perseverance, you'll be able to spot where they alight or leave the reeds.
There are several nature reserves nearby that together would make a pleasant day out, including Montgomery Canal at Belan on Lime Kilns Lane and Severn Farm Pond. The National Trust property, Powis Castle, with its fabulous tiered gardens, is just a mile away, and Coed y Dinas Garden Centre (with restaurant and Children's Soft Play is just around the corner. Useful to know if the weather turns wet.