Author: Carys Evans

We Need Your Support Now More Than Ever!

This is clearly an unprecedented time for us as a Wildlife Trust and we need your support now more than ever.  Our Visitor Centres and islands of Skomer and Skokholm provide much of the income that the Trust needs to ensure that these two internationally important islands and over 100 other precious nature reserves can be managed effectively for wildlife.

The closure of these assets and the knock-on impact on the donations and membership subscriptions we normally receive will result in a significant loss of income for the Trust and will have a catastrophic impact on our ability to look after our important wildlife and nature reserves. We really hope to be in a position to ensure that Skomer, Skokholm and our visitor centres open again to the public later this year; however, funds are required to ensure that this is able to happen.

We are asking for your continued support during this extremely difficult time. General donations to the Trust can be made here

Your support is crucial, so thank you.

We would also like to take this opportunity to let all our wonderful members and supporters know that we are thinking of them, and hope that you are all stay safe. We recognise how important nature is for our wellbeing, and are sending out regular updates via our social media accounts on things you can do from home, or in your garden.

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New faces on Skomer Island!

April marks the beginning of a new season on Skomer and Skokholm Island, ordinarily Lockley Lodge will be full of eager wildlife enthusiasts queuing for their boat tickets. Unfortunately, this is not the case currently due to covid-19 – however our Skomer team are still on the island working hard monitoring and preparing for when we are able to welcome guests again!

We have two new faces on the island this year – Catrin Norris our new Skomer Visitor Officer and Ceris Aston our new Skomer Assistant Warden! We are delighted to welcome them both to the team and hope that things will go back to normal soon!

Catrin had this to say:

“I am overjoyed to join the team on Skomer Island. My heart always comes alive when I am in Pembrokeshire and it has long been a dream of mine to work in conservation in this area. Growing up on the south coast of Wales, I have spent a lot of time in the area and am always mesmerised by the bright blue sea, soaring birds, seals popping their heads up and rugged coastline.  The stiff Pembrokeshire breeze keeps the mind fresh and senses alive, as does a cool dip in the sea!

This role will allow me to combine knowledge and experience acquired through my MSc in Marine Environmental Management, my commitment to conservation, and years of experience in hospitality management and visitor relations. The unique wildlife on Skomer and surrounding waters was a massive draw, especially as I spent two months last summer in the Faroe Islands researching Manx Shearwaters. Since being on the island we have taken great pleasure in hearing their familiar call at night and watching them under the red light of our head torches and a bright starry night sky. We also had the magical experience of welcoming puffins back to the island to breed.

Prior to my MSc I spent nine years in managerial positions on board private yachts with incredible worldwide itineraries. I am therefore used to living in remote locations with small teams of people and I am now excited to transfer my skills and share my passion, to provide visitors to Skomer with unforgettable experiences.”

Ceris said:

“Assistant Warden on Skomer! I’ve been here for three weeks now and I’m still pinching myself.

I wake up each morning to the sound of lesser black-backed gulls and, if up before the sun, sprint into the kitchen (‘the fishbowl’) to watch its slow rise over the horizon. From here, drinking my coffee, I may see stonechats – ravens – choughs – short-eared owls – each eliciting a gasp of delight.

A few years ago, I left behind a desk-based career in communications and the women’s sector, in pursuit of that Holy Grail – a job in conservation. I volunteered for a year and a half, then had a year’s apprenticeship at Lindisfarne NNR in Northumberland, then last year volunteered as Assistant Ranger at St Abb’s Head NNR in Berwickshire.

Skomer is my first island role and was always going to be a little surreal. In these strange times, all the more so… We count our blessings daily – and throw ourselves into the work with renewed energy. We don’t know when the island will reopen, but when it does, it will have been scrubbed, dusted and painted to within an inch of its life.

I’m excited to see out a full seabird season on an island – to walk, to write, to draw, and to spend time simply breathing in (is it peculiar to have a fondness for the smell of guano?). And I’m looking forward to working, to learning, and to doing my bit for the place, the wildlife, and the people who love Skomer.”

We are delighted to welcome them both to our wild family and look forward to the time when Skomer is reopened and visitors can meet them both too!

Despite Skomer Island being currently closed to visitors, you can still get your Skomer fix over on our social media pages!

Remembering Denys Smith

Words by Mat Ridley, Chair of East Carmarthenshire Local Group

Lord Dynevor and Denys

Denys Smith, who has died aged 97, will be fondly remembered by many in in the Wildlife Trust movement in Wales. Denys was a key figure in our East Carmarthenshire local group for many years, combining his role as Secretary with a seemingly boundless supply of energy and enthusiasm for the promotion of wildlife conservation across his local patch. Carmarthenshire was his adopted home but one that he knew well. His late wife Gwenllian was from a local family and the couple moved back to be near Gwen’s family when both retired from teaching. Denys had been the head teacher at a small school in Radnorshire for many years. Further back, he was on coastal patrol boats in World War II and came originally from London.

I remember many chats with Denys, over the obligatory cuppa and biscuits, discussing his ideas for the next local group program or the latest interesting wildlife news… and Lizzie remembers having her own special red squirrel mug! He wrote a Nature Notes column for local newspapers and magazines, complete with his own pen and ink drawings, which were eventually published as a collection. As Secretary, he produced his own distinctive posters to promote our events and did the rounds on his trusty bicycle, putting them up in local shops. Denys had a wider role in the Trust too, being both a Vice-President and a Trustee.

Even when he was less able to get around, Denys insisted on getting out on field trips as he had always done. A field of gigantic grassy tussocks was no deterrent; not when there were marsh fritillaries and plenty of interesting plants to be seen!  Denys moved from Brynhawddgar, the home near Llandeilo that he and Gwenllian had shared, to a retirement home in Plymouth just a few years ago. He died there peacefully on 26th February 2020. At this time of year early purple orchids bloom on the hedgebanks around Brynhawddgar. Denys began an annual count and pretty soon this became a regular fixture on our local group program. Sadly, it has had to be cancelled this year, but I am sure someone will still get out there to count Denys’s orchids…. (thanks Jan and Keith!).



Planting the Future

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ Education and People & Wildlife Officers, along with Gwent Wildlife Trust have been helping Cardiff University’s Project Phoenix, schools’ tree-planting initiative in Wales. The tree-planting programme is a collaboration between Cardiff University and the University of Namibia to improve health, reduce poverty and develop a sensitive and sustainable approach to the environment.

The project launched with a tree-planting ceremony at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf attended by First Minister Mark Drakeford, as well as second days at West Cardiff Community High School and Trelai Primary. Both days turned out to be rather cold and wet, however the enthusiasm of the students could not be dampened, as they all wanted to contribute to something positive for the environment. Over all 45 UK natives tree species were planted with in the school grounds, with the aim to leaving a legacy for future generations.

For more information about our education work contact our Education Office Catherine on


Flying High for our Red Squirrels

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) would like to extend an absolutely massive thank you to volunteer fundraiser Michael Cunningham who undertook a skydive to raise funds for our conservation work with red squirrels.

Michael completed this daring feat last summer, but has kept his fundraising page open and we are incredibly grateful to him for successfully raising his current total of over £600 towards the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project.

We are constantly fundraising to continue and extend our red squirrel conservation work in mid Wales, and we are so grateful for the work that Michael will have made possible. The red squirrel conservation team are currently starting some new work programmes to help us understand how (and why) red squirrels vary in the way they use the forests in mid Wales, and these funds will help us buy a really meaningful amount of extra equipment to do this (such as tags and cameras).

Michael’s fundraising page will stay open for one more month and if anyone would consider making any final donations to help him get closer to his £1000 target by the end of April, we would be so pleased.

We rely wholly on fundraising for this amazing project, so if anyone else is inspired by Michael’s efforts and would like to raise money to support our work (and you don’t have to jump out of a plane!), please get in touch with our Red Squirrel Officer Sarah Purdon on

Ash Dieback at South Lodge Woods

You might be aware that we have been developing a strategy for dealing with issues arising from Ash Die Back disease. Ash die back is a tree disease that targets and kills off ash trees. Where possible we are going to leave the infected trees to deteriorate on their own, thus allowing wildlife to exploit the many opportunities that these dying trees will provide, whilst giving the surrounding vegetation time to adapt. However where the trees present a hazard due to their proximity to people or property we are having to take a more proactive approach.

Unfortunately one of these places is at South Lodge Woods, part of our Castle Woods Nature Reserve. One end of the woods abuts properties on the edge of Llandeilo. In several places the trees have grown right out and are leaning over gardens and houses. Last July we carried out tree health assessments on these ash trees, and we noticed that they were all showing signs of ash die back disease, and some were becoming dangerous. We consequently made the decision to act and cut the trees down, thereby removing the hazard. This work is planned for March 2020. We have chosen this time specifically as birds will have yet to start nesting within the trees and any bats should have come out of hibernation.

Cutting trees down is not something we chose to do lightly. Loss of habitat is something we strive against as a wildlife organisation that preaches about conservation, however where human life is put at risk this has to become the main priority. We shall not touch any tree that appears to be showing any immunity to the disease or any tree that doesn’t pose a risk to human life.

Further information can be found here

Do the little things for wildlife this St David’s Day

On 1st March, schools and communities up and down the length and breadth of Wales celebrate St David’s Day. Children will wear traditional Welsh dresses and pin leaks and daffodils to their lapels.
St David’s last words were ‘Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd’ translated to ‘Do the little things in life’. With the current climate and ecological crisis, there is no better time to make small changes and do the little things for wildlife.

Here are some top tips for little things you can do this spring:

1. Put out a bird feeder or bird bath
Warmer and longer days marks the return of our breeding birds! Garden birds will soon be busy nest building, which can be hungry work! Give birds a helping hand this spring, put out fresh water and bird food regularly. For more hints and tips, check out our friends at Vine House Farm.

2. Plant pollinator friendly plants
Soon the air will be filled with the gentle buzz of bees, wasps and other pollinators. Make sure they have plenty of pollen pit stops to get them through the summer, why not plant nectar-rich lavender, borage or lungwort?

3. Let the dandelions grow!
As one of the first flowering plants of the year, dandelions are a lifeline for pollinators. These pretty little flowers can often be seen buzzing with life during the early spring months. It can be tempting to tame that unruly lawn at the first sign of spring, but think of the bees. Let the dandelions grow this year!

4. Build a bug hotel
It can be easy to forget about the mini beasts who call our gardens home as they are often unseen. However insects often need a helping hand too! Building a bug hotel is not only fun for the whole family but it is easy too! Use pieces of wood you can find lying around the garden, or even an old boot!

5. Plant a mini wildflower meadow
Wildflower meadows contain up to 40 species per square metre, these can include bees, butterflies and beetles which in turn supports many small animals and birds. But sadly this crucial habitat only covers a mere 1% of the UK’s land. You can do your bit for wildlife by planting a mini wildflower meadow in your garden and watch as the butterflies and bees visit for their all important nectar.

For more ideas download our easy guide here 

Celebrating the incredible women at WTSWW!

March 8th marks International Women’s Day!

What better way to celebrate than to shine a light on the incredible women who work across the Trust? From administration, catering, and marketing to the CEO herself – we have talented women throughout the Trust.

Here’s just a short snapshot of just some of the fantastic women who make up the Trust:

Patrice McGhee, Catering and Visitor Centre Supervisor

Patrice is the new Parc Slip visitor centre catering supervisor

“I only joined the Parc Slip team in the last two weeks but I already feel very welcome and at home here. There are many reasons for loving the job one being driving in and seeing a red kite glide over the café as I begin my day! I am passionate about great food and great service which is what I strive for here. The Wildlife Trust is embarking on some new exciting times and I’m glad to be a part of that. I hope to bring both nature and food together so a visit here is whole experience.”

Lorna Baggett, Valleys Reserve Officer

“I’m Lorna the Wildlife Trust Officer who works in the ‘Valleys’ area. I manage 4 nature reserves for the Trust and spend a lot of my time doing practical habitat management, maintaining access and doing wildlife surveys with volunteers on these sites. I work part time on a project called ‘Connecting People and Nature’ in Merthyr, where we have been encouraging rural communities to come to their local parks to take part in wildlife and wellbeing activities and volunteering. I love my job. It’s really varied- every day is different and I get to spend time with my volunteers, who are the most helpful and generous people! I find it very rewarding knowing that what we do on our nature reserves and beyond all goes towards protecting wildlife and looking after our environment.”

Megan Howells, People and Wildlife Officer

“The main part of my role is to engage people with wildlife on our nature reserves and in urban areas of South Wales (Cardiff, Bridgend etc.) so that they will care and campaign for wildlife in their areas. Delivery of this engagement can be varied. One week I might be managing habitats on the reserve with a hardy group of volunteers and the next I will be running wildlife walks like bat walks and reptile rambles.
The best part about my job is seeing people’s ‘wildlife experience firsts’. Being able to show someone their first newt or hear the alien sounds of a bat call through a bat detector for the first time, and witness the excitement and pure joy that brings to people is a privilege. Spending most of my time outside in the summer is a real bonus too.”

Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manager

“I’ve been WTSWW’s Marketing and Development Manager for almost 6 years now and absolutely love it! No 2 days are the same, but that’s a good thing.  I am responsible for the strategic marketing direction of the Trust and commercial assets including; profile raising, campaigns, visitor experience, media and PR, fundraising, partnerships and events. Every day I’m inspired by our dedicated team, amazing wild places and incredible wildlife.”

Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, Conservation Manager

“I joined WTSWW as a reserves manager on a lottery-funded project in Ceredigion, in 2003, and managing nature reserves was a big part of my job for more than ten years. However in 2009 I became the Trust’s Conservation Manager in the west, responsible for the conservation team staff who not only manage reserves, but deliver public events and education, do project work, deliver research programmes and so much more. I also help the team to look after big infrastructure assets, like on Skomer and Skokholm, and lead on health and safety for the charity. It’s an incredibly diverse job, and every day is different. One day could be a botanical survey, another day a septic system contract, and the third responding to a government consultation. It is never dull!”

Jane Howells, Welsh Wildlife Centre Shop Volunteer

“What makes the Welsh Wildlife Centre a great place to work are the amazing staff, who warmly welcomed me on board as a volunteer a few months ago. On reception, I get to meet many interesting people, help out with any queries the public has and assist with the sale of merchandise. All in all, it’s a great place to work!”

Dr Sarah Perry, Living Seas Manager

“As the Living Seas Manager I head up the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ Living Seas team based at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) where I am responsible for managing the Living Seas team there, the CBMWC, managing our research and developing our Living Seas work.
I am lucky enough to have been involved in marine conservation in west Wales for over 15 years, starting off as a volunteer. The CBMWC overlooks New Quay bay and I have the pleasure of watching members of the internationally important population of Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphins from my office window and spending time on the water, researching these fascinating animals – what’s not to love!
I enjoy the variety that my job working for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales brings, meeting people that share my love of all things marine and having the pleasure of working with some wonderful passionate and dedicated people.”

Claire Eynon, Membership and Administration Assistant

Claire Eynon, Membership and Admin Assistant

“My role in the Trust is Membership and Admin Assistant based at Parc Slip Nature Reserve.  I help to support different areas such as Membership, Communications and the Finance department.  My tasks include processing membership and wildlife adoption applications, uploading the e-news articles for the website, processing the Skomer landing tickets for claiming gift aid, keeping the office stocked up with stationary and sending out the post. It is a varied job and I am so grateful to be working in an office located in a beautiful nature reserve. I love looking out at the trees and birds and after spending many years working in a corporate environment in the middle of the city this connection with nature never becomes boring.  My tasks may not appear to be as ‘exciting’ as working in the conservation areas but I resonate with the values and aims of The Wildlife Trust which is important to me.”

Sarah Kessell, CEO

Finally, we couldn’t possibly talk about the Trusts hard working women without paying homage to our incredibly dedicated CEO, Sarah Kessell. Sarah has worked for the Trust for many years and continues to drive the organisation forward with her determination and enthusiasm.

We cannot thank our dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic staff and volunteers enough for their continuous hard work. It is also worth noting, that the Trust also employs dedicated and hard working men too!

If you would like the opportunity to join this passionate and dedicated team, keep an eye on our jobs and volunteering pages!  

2019 – reflecting on conservation success!

Reporting our work

The report of the Conservation Team’s work for the financial year 2018-19 has been completed and documents all our achievements for wildlife during the prior 12 months. It’s available here.

Research and monitoring

Artificial nest boxes were a hit on both the Pembrokeshire Islands this year. On Skokholm on 05 September there were three storm petrel chicks in the ‘Petrel Station’, a wall of artificial nest chambers built by the wardens and their volunteers in the quarry area of the island. On Skomer, a pair of Manx Shearwaters laid an egg in one of the artificial burrows, which were installed by the Skomer team in 2018. Both species have bred in artificial burrows on the islands before, but what is unique about these achievements is the way it will allow us to use new technologies such as recording equipment to access the burrows in a non-invasive way, to learn more about their breeding behaviour.

All our auk species continue to do well on our Pembrokeshire Islands.  Counts of all three species were high both on Skokholm (puffins- 7447 individuals, guillemots- 4654 aol, razorbills 2755 aol), and on Skomer (puffins – 24,108 individuals, guillemots – 28,798 individuals, razorbills 7,529 (individuals in 2018, not counted in 2019). All three species are showing a trend of increasing numbers, and we continue to monitor breeding success and other population parameters and work with a number of partner universities and agencies to keep a close eye for any signs of change in those trends.

Species projects

Access to cheaper technology is also revolutionising our red squirrel monitoring. Our ability to buy larger volumes of trail cameras means that we are able to monitor red squirrels, which live at very low density in mid Wales, much more effectively than ever before. Previously we relied heavily on public sightings, which were limited by the remote locations and inhospitable terrain. Now we can systematically monitor for red squirrel activity in key locations, and our wonderful project staff and their volunteers have been instrumental to this. It’s also allowed us to capture some really interesting behaviours such as this red squirrel chewing on a bone.

We completed the fourth year of our five year badger vaccination project in Castle Woods, Carmarthenshire. Over the four years we have now vaccinated a total of 91 badgers in the nature reserve. You can read our report on this our 2019 results here.

We’ve been busy creating adder habitat on our Dowrog Common nature reserve. Working with ARG, we’ve identified some areas of scrub that are important to retain for the benefit of adders, whilst also creating lots of new open habitats including fire break areas, and new scrapes.

The My Wild Cardiff Project aims to inspire and educate the people of Wales’ capital city about urban wildlife in their local green spaces, and particularly in their own gardens. Through this project we have organised many different wildlife engagement events, from bumblebee walks to otter surveys.

One of our longest running events in Cardiff,  in collaboration with National Museum Cardiff, is ‘Unknown Wales’. The event is a day of talks about lesser known wildlife and conservation projects in Wales. This year saw the 9th annual Unknown Wales conference which focused on a theme of getting involved with conservation projects, including projects run by the Trust. Talks during the day ranged from slime moulds to rare bumblebees, with 160 people attending.

Each year we also build a feature garden at the Cardiff RHS show, with the help of many dedicated volunteers. This year our feature garden of a bird nest, chicks and eggs (made of willow, scrub and other natural materials), aimed to highlight the decline of bird populations in Wales and won the Best Feature 2019 Award.


In January 2019, WTSWW entered a Glastir contract, which will provide important funding to support our nature reserves management. In Ceredigion, it has contributed to the costs of installing a fantastic rain water harvesting water trough on Rhos Glyn yr Helyg. This will provide drinking water for livestock and therefore support critically important grazing in the future- in a part of this marshy grassland reserve that had been very difficult to graze before, because of its distance from the existing water supply. This will help us manage the reserve better for its most important feature, the marsh fritillary butterfly- for which this site is now the most important in Ceredigion.

Meadow restoration in Priors Wood and Meadow, Gower. Following the receipt of funding in autumn 2018 from Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme, administered by WCVA, during 2019 we got going in style with this exciting project which focusses on the existing hay meadow and surroundings. The haymeadow has been chain harrowed and mown, and hedges have also been laid. Access has been improved, and fencing work has been undertaken. This will all contribute to the better long term management of this haymeadow area – species-rich haymeadows being one of our most threatened and vulnerable habitats.

Further East, replacement fencing at Cwm Colhuw Nature Reserve has allowed us to continue grazing the reserve with ponies, which is important for the management of grassland waxcaps there. At our woodland reserves, Coed-y-Bedw and Coed Garnllywd, annual nest box surveys continued. The surveys found that 72 out of 115 boxes and 41 out of 50 nest boxes were occupied at Coed-y-Bedw and Coed Garnllywd respectively. Most of the nest boxes were found to be used by great tits, blue tits, nuthatches and the occasional wood mouse.

In May Staff changes at Parc Slip, which is the base of the Trust’s South Wales Conservation Team, saw us welcome a new Conservation Manager, Kerry Rogers, to the team. We were also able to celebrate the contributions of the Trust’s longest serving staff member, Nigel Ajax-Lewis, by re-naming a bird hide at Parc Slip after him. Nigel was instrumental to the creation of Parc Slip Nature Reserve, and we revealed the renamed hide to him and his family in November on the 30th Anniversary of the Nigel secured an agreement from British Opencast to restore Parc Slip  from an opencast and turn it into a nature reserve.

Nigel and his family celebrate the re naming of the Northern Wetland hide

The Northern Wetland Hide is renamed the Nigel Ajax-Lewis Hide

Habitat improvements at Carmel, Carmarthenshire

During 2019 the team have done further significant hedgelaying, again thanks to financial support from Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme, administered by WCVA. Some of the hedgelaying has been done by contractors, and some by the staff and volunteer teams. This traditional technique is very skilled and time consuming, but creates fantastic habitat for wildlife (unlike the more common modern flailing technique, which leads to gappy bases and poor habitat for mammals and breeding birds). The project has also paid for new water troughs which will help us manage the grazing of this large reserve more carefully, and support further restoration the haymeadow habitats through aftermath grazing.

We’ve also been busy managing our extensive reedbeds at the Teifi Marshes in Pembrokeshire. Two areas have been cut in 2019, one is cut by a thatcher so that the reed can be used for thatching houses, and a second area is cut by our staff and volunteers using scythes (a ‘conservation’ cut of reed that’s not good enough quality for thatching). This rotational cutting helps maintain the quality of the reedbed habitat which is home to a number of important species.
We now have cattle on the Dranges nature reserve, owned by the ‘cow club’ – a group of staff that have jointly bought and look after the cattle.

New and unusual records

Pine martens were caught on camera at our Nant Melyn nature reserve in north Carmarthenshire for the first time in 2019. We had cameras out monitoring for squirrel activity in August and picked up pine marten, much to the excitement of our team!

The Pembrokeshire islands continue to generate a profusion of exciting bird records. Both islands have great blogs that allow you to keep up with their sightings but just a few examples from 2019 include: Skokholm- three Night Herons flying over the island on 30th May, an American Golden Plover stayed from 25th-27th May, and a Short-toed Lark was recorded on 22 June. Skomer- a Golden Oriole was recorded on 11 June, and on 16 May, an Ortolan Bunting. It’s not all about the birds, either! On Skomer on 28 May, Robin Taylor visited Skomer with the intention of confirming a moth larva found on Skomer last year- and confirmed a first record for Pembrokeshire! The species was Luffia ferchaultella. It is a member of the ‘Bagworm’ group of moths. The larvae live in cases built from sand grains, and they are lichen feeders.

Our Carmarthenshire staff are finding more and more specimens of the scarce Hazel Gloves fungus across Carmel National Nature Reserve, whilst hedgelaying, so it appears to be quite widespread on this site.

Parc Slip Nature Reserve had some exciting species records in 2019. In (very) early January, we had a rare visitor appear at the pond outside the visitor centre. A Siberian chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis), first spotted by Tony Swan and later confirmed by the county recorder, caused quite the furore among local nature enthusiasts. Siberian chiffchaffs are less striking than our common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) but differences in plumage are subtle, and calls must be used as well as plumage to determine identification. Usually wintering in India it’s rare to be found this far east of mainland Europe. The bird remained in the area of the pond for a couple of weeks, which allowed many visitors to enjoy and photograph it while comfortably eating cake in the café.

Siberian Chiff Chaff by Vic Shone

Weekly overnight moth traps at Parc Slip yielded 345 moth species (4196 individuals) throughout 2019, with the highlight of the year being an Oblique-striped moth. Though it isn’t the most striking moth to look at, it was a new record for the site, bringing the total number of moth species recorded at Parc Slip to over 650 since 2012.

By Vaughn Matthews

2019 was a busy year for the Trust! We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for us!

There are lots of ways you can get involved, visit the website for more info.

Skomer Love Story

As Valentines Day is quickly approaching, loved up couples are busy arranging plans for romantic meals out or a walk along the beach. Whether you truly embrace that loved up Valentines Day feeling or if you’d prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist, this love story is one that will warm even the coldest of hearts.
Monogamy is a treasured value in many human cultures, but it is rare in the animal kingdom. True monogamy (mating for life) is even scarcer; especially as males are hardwired to spread their genes and females try to seek the best to father their young.

There is however, a true love story close to home.

Just a few miles off the coast of Pembrokeshire lays the magical islands of Skomer and Skokholm. These Islands are home to thousands of birds (at least part of the year) as well as a plethora of other wildlife from interesting flora, seals and the characteristic Skomer vole.

Perhaps one of Skomers most well known residents is the Atlantic Puffin. These enigmatic creatures affectionately known as clowns of the sea call Skomer home from March to late July each year. Visitors to Skomer Island will be familiar with the incredible characters of these lovable little birds.

What visitors may not know however is the epic love story surrounding these wonderful creatures. Each year thousands of Puffins return to Skomer Island to mate, often travelling up to 2,000 miles! Puffins arrive in their thousands from March to April, all hoping to secure their perfect burrow ready for nesting season.

Puffins return to nest in the same burrow year after year, although there is often competition from rabbits, Manx Shearwaters and other Puffins! Puffins would prefer to nest close to the cliff edge to make accessing the burrow after a day out fishing as easy as possible; this is why places such as The Wick on Skomer are so popular.

We’re not sure whether Puffin pairs stay together whilst out at sea, but the welcome home from their mate is always a heart warming moment. Puffin’s will usually mate with the same partner year after year, so when one individual returns to the nesting site before its mate the waiting game begins. Once the breeding pair are reunited, they perform a courtship display in order to reinforce their bond. This is known as billing, a behaviour where two birds tap their bills together. Capturing this moment is one for the photography bucket list!

Once their bond is re-established, Puffins will begin breeding in April. However, the commitment doesn’t stop there. Unlike other species within the animal kingdom, the parental duties of raising their young are shared. Adults take turns to go out to sea to fish, often coming back with bills full of sand eels. Young Puffins are affectionately called, Pufflings.

A Puffin pair will stay together until their Puffling is ready to leave the island, usually towards the end of July. The pair will then head off to sea until the next year, when they will once again reunite.

If you would like to see these wonderful creatures for yourself, why not arrange a visit to Skomer this year? Contact the team on 01656 724100 for more information or visit our website.

Our 2019 Highlights

Ratty, Mole, Badger & Toad campaign for a Wilder Future
Oh what a year we’ve had at The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales!

As 2019 draws to a close, we thought it was a great time to reflect on just how much we have achieved the past 12 months.

But first, we must give our huge thanks to our dedicated volunteers without which we simply wouldn’t have achieved all that we have. It is thanks to these selfless, hardworking individuals who give their time for free that we are able to deliver the huge extent of conservation and engagement work that we do.

We go into 2020 feeling thankful for the hard work of our staff, volunteers and the support of all of our members!

Here are just some of our highlights for 2019:

We won an incredible FIVE awards!


(L-R) Gina, Laura and Carys were delighted to accept the Best Tourism Business Innovation award on behalf of the Trust

It is great to see the hard work of our staff, volunteers and supporters recognised through awards. We were extremely lucky to win 5 awards in 2019!

We have secured funding for some exciting projects!

Parc Slip Visitor Centre Tondu

Many improvements are scheduled for Parc Slip in the next 12 months

Fundraising success!

Skomer Wardens receive the new Skomer vehicle

Supporter-led fundraising

We were delighted to receive a cheque of £901 to go towards the Skomer Tractor Appeal

We are also incredibly lucky to have some passionate and dedicated supporters who kindly raise funds for us!

Here are just a few from this year:

Exciting finds!

Identifying Fungus

Identifying Fungus photo by Graham Watkeys

Reaching new audiences!

Manx Shearwater Chick by G.Eagle

Manx Shearwater Chick by G.Eagle


  • Our beautiful Skokholm Island featured on BBC’s Land of the Wild in the summer, did you see it?
  • Skomer Island had a 6 page feature in BBC Wildlife Magazine on the incredible story of the Manx Shearwater
  • Our membership magazine had a makeover and is now called Your Wild Wales –join as a member to receive this quarterly magazine
  • We have 600 new followers on Instagram – and counting! Follow us for your daily wildlife fix! Can you help us reach 2000 followers by the New Year?

Campaign successes

Ratty, Mole, Badger & Toad campaign for a Wilder Future

Ratty, Mole, Badger & Toad campaign for a Wilder Future

  • The Wildlife Trusts’ Wilder Future campaign launched and we have since been working hard to spread the word and inspire people to make small (or big) changes and actions to secure a Wilder Future for Wales
  • We had a record number of sign ups to our 30 Days Wild campaign this June! If you can’t wait until next June for your next nature challenge, get involved with our 12 Days of Wild Christmas campaign kicking off on Christmas Day!

Living Seas Wales

Our Living Seas Wales team has been busy this year!
Read their project roundup here 


Nigel and his family celebrate the re naming of the Northern Wetland hide

The Northern Wetland Hide is renamed the Nigel Ajax-Lewis Hide

Parc Slip Nature Reserve turned 30 years old!
To celebrate we renamed the Northern Wetland Hide after the Trust’s longest standing member of staff Nigel Ajax-Lewis. Nigel has been instrumental in many projects over the years, but arguably his biggest and earliest project was the creation of Parc Slip Nature Reserve.

That is just a snapshot of the incredible things we have achieved this year – and we couldn’t do it without our volunteers, members and supporters!

We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store!

Top 7 winter reserves to visit this Christmas!

Winter is in full-swing, the nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping.

It can be very tempting to hide away from the elements until spring, but there are so many beautiful sights to be seen even in the winter!

Christmas can often come and go in a blur of delicious food, alcohol and Christmas television. This Christmas why not bring the family together for a frosty, festive, winter walk?

With over 110 nature reserves to choose from, you really are spoilt for choice!

Here are our top 7 reserves which are definitely worth a visit this winter:

Ystradfawr Nature Reserve, Ystradgynlais, SA9 1SE

Ystradfawr by Carys Evans

Previously a site of extensive coal mining, this wonderful reserve is an excellent example of how nature can reclaim the landscape. Now home to an array of wildlife from Woodcocks and Snipes to Marsh Fritillary Butterflies this reserve really is a sight to behold.

Accessible via a Sustrans cycle track, Ystradfawr is the perfect winter reserve offering family friendly walks and exquisite views across the valley. Wander through the woodland for the chance to see winter bird visitors feeding on berries and discover hints of the reserves mining past.

Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve, Pembrokeshire

Teifi Marshes by John Thomas

If you’re looking for a day out for the whole family, look no further than the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve. Situated on the former course of the Teifi, this vast reserve offers a range of habitats making it the perfect spot to see all manners of wildlife.

Look out over the meadows and see the curious faces of Deer grazing whilst hundreds of Starlings dance above your head preparing to roost amongst the reed bed. With excellent access across the reserve, a visit to the Teifi Marshes is a must whether you’re on foot or cycling!

When you are done exploring the reserve, little ones will love playing on the adventure playground and ending the day with some delicious home cooked food in the award winning Glasshouse Café. For those keen wildlife watchers, we recommend staying at Oak Tree Cottage to get some early access to the reserve. Perhaps you’ll spot some Otters!

Port Eynon Point, Gower

Port Eynon Point by Lizzie Wilberforce

What better way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the festive season than the seaside? Part of the Coastal Path, Port Eynon Point offers incredible vistas out to sea. It is the perfect base for a spot of sea watching with the whole family. Interesting birds are seen year around; if you’re lucky you may spot the enigmatic Oyster Catcher!

Wrap up warm and head to the Port Eynon Point, you will not be disappointed!

Parc Slip, Bridgend

Parc Slip by Meg Howells

Parc Slip is an accessible and family friendly reserve all year around, boasting a range of habitats and  walks for all to enjoy. With the shorter days and low sun of winter, visitors to Parc Slip can enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the reserve. The sun casts an orange hue, shadows dance before your eyes as Finches fly overhead.

Families can enjoy a mud-free walk along the many cycle paths that run through the reserve. For the more adventurous members of the family, why not take a walk through the woodland?

No visit to Parc Slip is complete without a bite to eat and a warm drink in our Visitor Centre café. With views across the reserve, the café is the perfect spot to look through your photographs or just enjoy each others company.

We will be completing numerous improvements to Parc Slip over the next 12 months, you can read about them here:

Y Gweira, Llantrisant

Y Gweira by Lorna Baggett

Y Gweira is a beautiful place to visit in the winter months. This little nature reserve nestled in the corner of Llantrisant common has a diverse array of plantlife and is home to invertebrates such as butterflies and dragonflies, as well as reptiles and breeding birds like Meadow Pipit and Skylark. At this time of year walking through the marshy grassland you will be surprised by Snipe who’ll spring from under your feet. Early morning there is often mist sitting on the meadow, and if you go there during a frost or in the snow, the colours of the hawthorn berries and the lichens on the trees will contrast starkly with the white landscape.

Cwm Clettwr, Tre’r Ddôl, Ceredigion

Cwm Clettwr by Em Foot

Take a walk on the wild side this winter at Cwm Clettwr. See the sunlight dance between the trees as the birds soar above your head. Cwm Clettwr offers the perfect winter walk providing accessible paths and a circular route for all to enjoy. Listen as the river Clettwr splashes down through the old moss and fern filled oak woodlands, you may even spot the bop of the characteristic Dipper! Thanks to vital conservation work, Dormice thrive at this site. Take a minute to enjoy the spectacular views down the valley and out to sea across Borth Bog.

Poor Man’s Wood, Llandovery

Poor Man’s Wood by Lizzie Wilberforce

This Oak woodland was originally donated to the town of Llandovery in the sixteenth century with the condition that the people of Llandovery were able to enter the woodland and take any dead wood for fuel providing they can carry it on their backs. Hence the name – Poor Man’s Wood.

Visit this little piece of local history and take in the spectacular views across the upper Towy valley. Bask in the presence of giant Oaks, and Wild Service Trees some of only a handful within the county! Be sure to visit the rustic hide for a glimpse of some elusive wildlife!

Find a reserve near you and have a WILD Christmas!