Welsh poet’s work celebrated in new hide at RSPB Ynys-hir

Last week saw the official opening of a new hide at the RSPB Ynys-hir nature reserve to celebrate the historic connection between the reserve and Welsh poet R S Thomas.
Lapwing lino by George Horne Year 8 pupil of Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth - credit Beverley Dimmock
Thomas, arguably Wales’ greatest poet, was vicar at St Michael’s church in Eglwysfach between 1954 and 1967. A keen birdwatcher, Thomas regularly sought inspiration for his poems by wandering on the privately owned Ynys Hir estate before the land was bought by the RSPB in 1969.
In his poem ‘Swifts’ he recalls how birdwatching on Ynys-hir allowed him to escape from the stresses of daily life;
The swifts winnow the air. It is pleasant at the end of the day/ To watch them. I have shut the mind/ On fools. The Phone’s Frenzy is over.
The Ynys Feurig hide was built this year thanks to funding and help from Ceredigion County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will allow visitors to see never before seen views of the reserve, over pools and lowland grassland that attract numerous waders, ducks and geese in the winter time.
However, when the wildlife may not be on show, visitors will be able to enjoy the new and beautiful interpretation panels on the inside of the hide, which depict extracts from R S Thomas’ work.
The images that accompany the poem extracts are the work of pupils from Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth.  After spending a day on the reserve, and gaining inspiration from the vast variety of wildlife and habitats there, the pupils created lino prints with the help of local artist Jenny Fell.
Katie Jo Luxton, Director of RSPB Cymru who officially opened the hide said, “We are really proud of the association between the reserve and one of Wales’ greatest poets. The children have done a marvellous job in creating these intriguing prints for the hide – they really give the hide the Wow factor!”
If you fancy seeing the art and visiting the new hide, RSPB Ynys-hir is open throughout the autumn and winter months.  For more information, visit www.rspb.org.uk/ynys-hir