Author: Carys Evans

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.

Reserves

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.

We’re recruiting a Head of Islands and Marine!

Join our Wildlife Trust team!

We’re recruiting a Head of Islands and Marine to join our dedicated team.

The ecological and climate crises that our planet is facing are driving our vision for the future.  This new post has been created to expand and strengthen our Living Seas work across our whole region in response to the growing pressure on marine wildlife and seabirds.  It will also allow a greater focus on our internationally-important and extremely popular Skomer and Skokholm Islands.

Salary: £25,000 – £27,000. Full-time. 

To apply for the role…

Download a full job description and application form

Completed application forms and a covering letter should be emailed to info@welshwildlife.org quoting ‘Head of Islands and Marine application’ in the subject title.

Please note that we do not accept CVs.

Deadline: Wednesday 26th February at 10am – if you are shortlisted for an interview, we will contact you by the end of Friday 28th February. If you do not hear from us by this date your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

Interview date: Thursday 5th March at the Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran, near Cardigan.

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 

Milestones

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: https://www.welshwildlife.org/wtsww-news/exciting-improvements-for-parc-slip/

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!

Have a WILD Christmas with 12 Days Wild!

To many, Christmas is a time for spending time with family with good food in front of the television – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

But consider making your Christmas a little more wild this year. Keeping up with a daily dose of nature can be tough during the festive season, but with a whole host of health benefits you’d be silly not to get your nature fix!

The Wildlife Trusts are launching our 12 Days of Wild Christmas which aims to provide a little mid-winter inspiration every day from Christmas Day to 5th January.

For those of you who took part in our 30 Days Wild challenge in June, 12 Days Wild is not to be missed!

The idea is simple: one random act of wildness everyday for 12 days.

To spread a little nature magic over your Christmas, sign up to our campaign here and keep an eye on our social media pages throughout the 12 days for some wild inspiration!

We would love to see what wild things you get up to this Christmas – join the conversation on social media using #12DaysWild

 

Feed Rudolph (and the birds) this Christmas!

Rudolph and friends won’t be the only hungry ones this Christmas!

It may be tempting to buy ready made reindeer food, but beware! Many shop bought reindeer food are packed full of glitter which if ingested by wildlife can be harmful. So why not get creative this festive season and make your own reindeer food?

Not only is it festive fun for the whole family but it also provides the perfect fuel for reindeer and birds alike for flying high and keeping warm in wintery months!

Perfect recipe for Rudolph

Mix up the following nice ingredients, but skip the naughty items!

Nice

Raw porridge oats and sunflower seeds can make up the bulk of the reindeer food, these offer essential fat and carbohydrate content for keeping warm on those frosty mornings in the North Pole!

Add Nyjer seeds for some darker colour and sparkle! This oil rich seed is perfect for keeping up energy whilst Rudolph and friends are busy delivering presents all around the globe!

Add a splash of blue(berries) or apple to provide the perfect winter treat!

Naughty

Now, there is a misconception that reindeer food needs to be sparkle to be seen from high in the sky. This is not the case – in fact glitter, sequins or anything made from plastic can cause stomach problems for most animals if eaten. Glitter is also a microplastic! The pieces are so small they could cause a problem for the environment for a long time. Cake sprinkles or edible glitter are also no good as they contain lots of e-numbers.

 Making sure you’ve skipped all the naughty items – you’re reindeer food is ready to go!

On Christmas Eve, sprinkle the food into a tray or bowl and Rudolph and friends (and the birds) will have a festive treat!

Living Seas Wales 2019 Overview –South and West Wales

The Living Seas Wales Project is a collaboration between The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) and North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT) and has been funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery Players the project provides Welsh people and visitors with the opportunity to learn about and enjoy our marine environment, through a range of events, activities and volunteering opportunities.

The project was launched at the Volvo Ocean Race in June 2018 and has since gone from strength to strength.

In 2019 WTSWW’s Living Seas Wales Team have –
• Trained 100 new Living Seas volunteers
• Led 30 volunteer events including Dolphin Watch and Shoresearch Surveys
• Run 12 family-friendly events such as Night Time Rockpooling and Eggcase Hunts
• Celebrated National Marine Week

Our Living Seas Live! Roadshows made a big splash over the spring and summer months, with the team visiting The National Botanic Gardens, Swansea Waterfront Museum, The Sea2shore Festival and 6 other locations in south/west Wales.

We engaged with nearly 2,500 people, inspiring them to love our seas and to become involved in marine conservation.

In June we teamed up with the Chester Zoo Expedition Team who helped to support the work of our Living Seas team based at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. Chester Zoo staff conducted Dolphin Watch and Shoresearch surveys, beach cleans and helped to organise and run our World Ocean’s Day celebration event in Aberystwyth.

Dr Sarah Perry, Living Seas Manager for south Wales says:

“Our seas are at a turning point and through the Living Seas Wales project we are able to inspire people within our Welsh communities and visitors to our coastline to take action for marine wildlife and to become involved in our vital marine conservation work.”

Laura Evans, Living Seas Wales Project Officer for WTSWW says:

 “We’d like to say a massive thank you to our amazing team of volunteers, without whom our marine conservation and engagement work would not be possible.”

Keep a lookout on the Living Seas Wales website for roadshows, events and volunteering opportunities in 2020, the Year of the Outdoors.

Meilyr Tomos spreads Christmas cheer at the Welsh Wildlife Centre!

You may remember the devastating news that the Kingfisher Hide at our Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve had been burnt down in an act of vandalism.

In response to this sad news, we immediately launched our hide appeal in order to raise funds to replace the hide. Since the launch we have been overwhelmed with support from the community.

If you have visited the Glasshouse Café at the Welsh Wildlife Centre recently you may have noticed the sweet sound of Christmas carols. Meilyr Tomos has been playing Christmas carols on his keyboard in order to entertain visitors whilst raising money for the hide appeal.

In just a few sessions, he has raised an incredible £236!

We would like to thank Meilyr for his time and kindness and would also like to thank those who donated for their generosity.

Diolch yn fawr Meilyr!

You can donate to the hide appeal here

A Year in the Valleys

As we head towards January I find myself feeling baffled at the passing of another year. Where did the time go? Working for a nature conservation charity means time and resources are always precious and there’s plenty to do! But regardless of how much I have on my ‘to-do list’, nature (and people) can be unpredictable, so a storm, a landslide, or a thoughtless act of vandalism on the nature reserves can suddenly take priority and require extra time. On the plus side, it means that there have been new obstacles and opportunities every year so far!

To help me understand where my time has been spent this year I decided to quantify just some of what’s been going on in the valleys. But before I list these achievements I need to explain that this has only been possible because a group of amazing people have donated their time and energy to the Wildlife Trust, and without them we wouldn’t have been able to achieve half as much for our environment. I can’t express enough how much I value the time which my volunteers have given for free, but I hope this list goes some way towards showing how  they have helped to make our nature reserves a special place for wildlife and people.

  • 176 days of volunteer time have gone into conservation work on 4 nature reserves in the valleys this year.
  • 1.1 Ha of willow and conifer scrub has been removed from the Heathland at Llyn Fach to prevent this special habitat from being lost.
  • 830m of footpaths were widened and 5 boardwalks repaired at Taf Fechan to make the nature reserve more accessible.
  • 4,000 m2 of Himalayan balsam has been pulled up at Pwll Waun Cynon to allow native wildflowers the light and space to grow.
  • 977m of fencing has been replaced or repaired on the nature reserves to allow us to use grazing animals to help manage habitats.
  • 156 hours were spent surveying bird boxes to monitor the breeding bird activity at Taf Fechan and to watch for Pied Flycatchers.
  • 6 trips were taken around Llyn Fach lake to monitor the floating footprint rafts.
  • 1 bee bank and 3 hedgehog homes were constructed.
  • 4 reptile surveys, 1 orchid count, and 1 butterfly transect were carried out.

If you would like to get involved in the new year take a look here

Words by Lorna Baggett, Valleys Reserves Officer

General Election 2019: The results are in – so what does it mean for nature?

Ratty, Mole, Badger & Toad campaign for a Wilder Future
Concern for the environment is at a record high. Over a quarter of Britons now cite it as one of the top three issues facing the country. The amazing uprising of young people this year sparked a real awakening which political parties responded to at this election. Across the board, the manifestos contained more prominent, detailed and ambitious green commitments than ever before.

As they form a new majority Government, the Conservative Party has some pretty significant green manifesto commitments to deliver on. As part of developing “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”, they have committed to introducing an Environment Bill and establishing an Office for Environmental Protection, investing £640 million in natural solutions to climate change, achieving net zero by 2050, moving to an agricultural payments system based on ‘public money for public goods’, introducing a legal commitment to fish sustainably and setting up a new £500 million fund to help protect our oceans.

Action to meet these commitments can’t get started soon enough, but here are three things we believe the new government must prioritise to tackle the ecological emergency:

Establish a mutual and legally binding commitment to non-regression, so that environmental standards will rise, not fall

During the election campaign, the Conservative Party committed to bringing back the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill before Christmas. This Bill must include provisions that ensure high environmental standards are maintained and cannot be weakened in the future.

Urgently bring back the Environment Bill to kick start nature’s recovery

This Bill must lead to ambitious long-term and short-term targets to drive nature’s recovery, an Office for Environmental Protection with the necessary independence and powers to hold government to account, and, crucially, it must enable the creation of a Nature Recovery Network to restore and expand natural habitats across the country.

Introduce an Agriculture Bill that pays farmers for helping wildlife and for restoring our natural countryside

Public money should be used for the good of everyone. An agriculture policy based on the principle of public money for public goods would help create a landscape full of connected habitats and help restore our natural countryside.

Elliot Chapman-Jones, Public Affairs Manager at The Wildlife Trusts says:

The year ahead will be critical for nature.

On the world stage, the UK will host the UN climate change summit (known as COP26), where nature-based solutions to tackling climate change will be a key focus, and world leaders will also gather in China for a crucial UN biodiversity conference to set targets for nature’s recovery across the globe.

Global leadership and major domestic decisions by the new Government, such as the future of HS2 and the Ox-Cam Expressway, will define the future of our environment for generations.

Nature’s in crisis and the need to reverse its decline is more urgent than ever. It’s up to all of us to make sure that as the new Government gets going, election promises aren’t forgotten, manifesto commitments are strengthened, and we push all of our MPs to act with the urgency and ambition needed to meet this crisis head on.

 

Read what we’re doing to secure a Wilder Future here.

 

Remembering Peter Davis MBE

Peter Davis MBE

1929 – 2019

Although known to many as the ‘The Kite Man’ receiving an MBE in 2006 for his services to Red Kite Conservation, his first involvement in Wales was as warden of Skokholm from 1954 to 1956, particularly noteworthy being his detailed studies of the European Storm Petrels nesting on the island.

Skokholm was a stop one might say on a northward passage for Davis was previously warden of Lundy from 1951 and subsequently Fair Isle from 1957. In 1963 no more islands, but to the British Trust for Ornithology as Migration Research Officer, though he quickly chafed at a desk job in Tring and so in 1966 to Wales.

Having been appointed field officer in mid-Wales for the then Nature Conservancy his prime responsibility being to develop the Red Kite conservation programme, work which proceeded so very successfully with his colleague Peter Walters Davies. In 1966 just 21 pairs nested in Great Britain, all in mid-Wales. Ten years later 33 pairs and ten years further on 58 pairs, with over 100 pairs in 1993.  Now some 200 pairs nest in Wales the success of Kite conservation can be attributed to the dedication of Davis, in 1996 a founding trustee of the Welsh Kite Trust, and his co-workers.

Davis as Ceredigion Bird Recorder, a post he held until 1995 was one of the editors of the three Dyfed Bird Reports covering the years 1967 to 1976 and joint editor with Peter Hope Jones of the first Welsh Bird Report also 1967. As joint author with Hywel Roderick who died in 2008 far too young he ensured the Birds of Ceredigion, a sumptuous volume was published in 2010.

In 2007 Davis received an MBE for his work on the Red Kite and in 2014 a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Welsh Ornithological Society.  He is survived by his wife Angela who accompanied him on Skokholm and three children.

Words by David Saunders