Author: Claire Eynon

Thank You for Helping Us Keep Hearts Beating!

Welsh Wildlife Centre

Following a successful fundraising campaign at our Wildlife Trusts Welsh Wildlife Centre (WWC), Cilgerran we are absolutely delighted to announce that in just two months we have reached our defibrillator appeal target of £1100!

This will know enable the Welsh Wildlife Centre team to purchase a much needed defibrillator for the Visitor Centre. This potentially life saving piece of equipment massively increases the changes of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest from just 6% to a massive 74% if used within 3 minutes.

Our ‘lets keep hearts beating’ fundraising appeal was kick started by a generous donation from the wonderful Newport Women’s Institute, Pembrokeshire. We also received donations both small & large from a wide variety of visitors to the centre. It also gives us great pleasure to thank our awesome Welsh Wildlife Centre Glasshouse Café team for donating their tips from the Christmas period to this vitally important fund.  Thank you everyone!

Once in situ full training will be provided free of charge for our staff by Welsh Hearts.

However, the ‘lets keep hearts beating’ funding appeal continues onto stage 2!

We are now in the process of fundraising to equip our Parc Slip Visitor Centre, Bridgend with the same life saving piece of equipment.

Mark Hodgson, WWC Visitor Centre Manager said,

“having, like so many people, lost someone very close to me though cardiac arrest I believe that this life saving piece of equipment can make all the difference when it matters the most”.

Please visit our appeal page to donate today: https://www.welshwildlife.org/appeal/help-us-keep-hearts-beating/

Thank you!

Skomer Island exclusive… Autumn Migration Special

birdwatching on skomer island

We are delighted to be working with renowned Pembrokeshire bird guide Dave Astins of West Coast Birdwatching again this year, with two Autumn Migration Specials taking place on our Wildlife Trust Skomer Island on the 7th – 10th September and the 14th – 17th September.

The 3-day events are limited to 10 places which makes this such an exclusive experience.

Dave has been guiding on Skomer for many years and knows the island well. He has a habit of finding ‘something good’ and it was Dave who found the first ever snowy owl for Skomer this year!

Autumn always brings a diverse range of migrant birds to the island. Most years in September we will see birds such as wrynecks, black and common redstarts, ring ouzels and many warbler species for example yellow browed and grasshopper.

Last September more unusual highlights were a Bonelli’s warber, goshawk, red-backed shrike, grey phalarope and pectoral sandpiper. We also had regular sightings of ringtail hen harriers and one male hen harrier. Who knows what this September will bring?

September is also a great time for sea-watching. Seabirds such as great and artic skua, Balearic shearwaters, Leach’s storm petrels and Sabine’s gulls will be migrating south through the Irish sea and, if conditions are right, you may see some of these from Skomer. Talking of coastline, this time of year we will be in the heart of seal pupping season, Skomer’s beaches will have plenty of these little guys to spot.

And if all that wasn’t enough, the real reason September is my favourite time of year on the island is because of the Manx shearwaters. Mid September is the busiest time of year for fledging Manx shearwater chicks. With around 350,000 breeding pairs of shearwaters on Skomer there is nowhere better in the world to see these elusive birds that only come out of their burrows by night.

To book your place on any of these unique events please ring 01656 724100 or email: islands@welshwildlife.org . The 3 day experience costs £149pp which includes accommodation on the island.

Hope to see you in September!

Sarah Parmor  (Skomer Island Visitor Officer)

Mother’s Day at the Welsh Wildlife Centre

Welsh Wildlife Centre

Treat your lovely Mum to a splendid meal at the Glasshouse Café

Enjoy delicious home cooked food overlooking the stunning views of the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve. Keep your eyes peeled on social media for a special Mother’s Day menu coming soon but here is just a taster of what to expect…

Main courses

Traditional Roast beef with all the trimmings

Chicken & asparagus roulade with a chive & white wine sauce. G /F

Smoked haddock fillet topped with Welsh rarebit, baked & served atop a spinach & potato cake with a light tomato sauce.

Vegetable moussaka topped with a butterbean & tahini sauce. G/F Vegan

All served with Chefs selection of potatoes & green vegetables.

Puddings

Strawberry meringue roulade. G/F

Cappuccino & Tia Maria cheesecake

Dark chocolate & coconut cream mousse. G/F Vegan

For bookings contact Mark on 01239 621600/ 621212 or m.hodgson@welshwildlife.org

 

If you are looking for the perfect gift, then look no further than the Welsh Wildlife Centre Gift Shop

You can find a huge range of wonderful cards and gift ideas including homewares, jewellery, clothing and accessories, books and much more! Many of the pieces on sale have been handcrafted within West Wales by local artists and these are just five of the latest craft makers to join the ever expanding roster in store!

Jason’s Woodcraft

Jason creates spectacular woodturned bowls, chopping boards, tea lights and coasters from his home in Abercych. He has great artistic flare using techniques such as ebonising to add character and finish his pieces off to an exceptional standard.

Vlad Art

Vlad produces exceptional artwork featuring wildlife, horses, wild animals and country & coastal scenes, mostly from around Wales but also further afield. His artwork can be purchased in print form or the Welsh Wildlife Centre also stocks a wide range of divine cards available too!

Moirath Glass

Moira makes exquisite glass landscapes and decorations inspired by the local area from her studio in Newcastle Emlyn. She uses layers of colour, paint, pattern, texture and print to make each piece with many of her glassworks in store featuring actual feathers or leaves! The light of the suns rays passing through each piece produces an awe-inspiring display of colour.

Aled Jenkins

Aled creates delightful clocks, vases, bird houses & feeders and jewellery from reclaimed and recycled Welsh slate at his home near Llandysul.  He focuses on producing tactile pieces with a smooth finish and the attention to detail on each item is superb!

Anita Woods

Anita is a figurative artist inspired by the animals, landscape and sea of West Wales. Her artwork features an array of adorable native wildlife, as well as local scenes and loveable dogs. Anita supplies both canvas and mounted prints to the shop at great value prices and these would make a lovely addition to any home.

Pop into the Welsh Wildlife Centre shop to browse all of these magnificent pieces from our local crafters, or shop online at www.welshwildlife.org/shop for a whole range of alternative gift ideas from puffin memorabilia to jigsaw puzzles!

 

Amazon Smile

If you’re looking for gifts that we don’t stock in our online shop, why not try Amazon Smile.

We’ve become part of the Amazon Smile initiative. Amazon Smile is an easy way to make charitable donations to us without costing you anything extra! Simply shop at www.smile.amazon.co.uk – the same amazon you know with the same products, prices and service but Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to us.

Support us by shopping on our online shop, or through Amazon Smile and selecting The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales as your charity to support – Thank you.

Happy shopping!

One to watch this spring……..Wales: Land of the Wild!

walking on skomer island

BBC One Wales and S4C will show you Wales as you’ve never seen it before this spring with a new landmark natural history series that tells the story of our amazing wildlife through one extraordinary year.

If you loved BBC Blue Planet and Planet Earth II then Wales: Land of the Wild is not to be missed…it also features a special Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales Nature Reserve and a variety of awesome wildlife that call it home. You’ll have to tune in the spring it to find out which one!

Hollywood star Michael Sheen, who was raised in Port Talbot, will narrate Wales: Land of the Wild for BBC One Wales, with a soundtrack written by world-renowned composer Sir Karl Jenkins and his son Jody, and performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Wales: Land of the Wild / Cymru Wyllt is produced by Plimsoll Productions, an award-winning wildlife team who have also worked on Blue Planet, Planet Earth II and Springwatch for the BBC. They have also brought together the passion and expertise of wildlife enthusiasts across Wales, including series consultant Iolo Williams.

Together they have used their unparalleled knowledge to uncover the secrets of Wales’ rich habitats, as well as using the latest wildlife-filming technology to give viewers unprecedented access to a huge cast of creatures both great and small.

BBC Wales Head of Commissioning, Nick Andrews, says:

“Wales has some of the richest and most beautiful wildlife in the world, and I’m delighted that BBC Wales is able to tell these spectacular stories in Wales: Land of the Wild. It brings together the best of Welsh talent both on and off the screen to tell the defining story of Wales’ natural history. This ground-breaking series will uncover a Wales most of us have never seen before.”

Michael Sheen says:

“Land of the Wild is a revelation. It shows us a Wales as wild, as magical and as savagely beautiful a place as we have always felt it to be – and this landmark piece of Welsh television reveals it to us in all its natural glory like never before.”

The Welsh language version Cymru Wyllt will air on S4C.

For information on our Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves please visit www.welshwildlife.org . You can also follow us on Facebook /Wtsww, Twitter @WTSWW and Instagram Wildlife TrustSWW

Help us protect our precious Islands from invaders!

House-mouse-copyright-Amy-Lewis

Are you planning a day visit or overnight stay to Skomer or Skokholm in 2019? If yes then we need your help to keep our special islands safe from invaders.

The islands of Skomer and Skokholm are home to breeding populations of seabirds of both national and international importance. There are no significant ground predators (such as large mammalian predators or snakes) on the islands. Their continued absence is key to the future conservation of our seabirds and other ground-nesting birds.

The introduction of new species such as rats, or even other, smaller rodents, poses the greatest current, and acute, risk to our islands. Islands such as neighbouring Ramsey, where rats arrived via shipwrecks, are testament to the damage that can be caused; significant increases in breeding seabird species are only being recorded there after costly and time-consuming rat eradication in relatively recent history.

It is also important to note that whilst mammal introductions present a significant threat, other introductions such as of new plant species also have the potential to massively impact the island’s ecology (potentially including the seabird populations).

What  You Can Do Help..

Whilst the accidental introduction of rats or mice may feel unlikely, the consequences could be devastating. For this reason it is essential that we maintain strict biosecurity and quarantine for all people and luggage travelling to Skomer and Skokholm. Adopting some quick and easy safeguards could make all the difference. These apply to both day visitors and overnight visitors to both islands.

(1) Pack all luggage yourselves

(2) Pack all luggage in a rodent-free environment (e.g. avoid garages, sheds)

(3) If packing before the day of your arrival, store all packed luggage sealed and in a rodent-free environment. On the day of travel, inspect luggage to ensure no rodent has accessed the containers.

(4) Do not bring anything that might present a threat onto the island. This includes plants with root balls / compost (including potted herbs), seeds etc.

(5) All luggage must be closed. Open bags and unsealed luggage will not be permitted to land on the islands.

 (6) Avoid leaving your luggage unattended in Martins Haven as this is a high risk area where rats are regularly recorded.

Thank you for your help keeping Skomer and Skokholm special.

BioSecurity Luggage-poster

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What would actually happen if a rat or mouse got on the island?

The seabirds on Skomer and Skokholm thrive because there are no ground predators- no foxes, weasels, hedgehogs, rats, snakes or similar. As close as neighbouring Ramsey Island, rats arrived historically via shipwrecks, and significant increases in seabird species have only been recorded after incredibly costly and time-consuming rat eradication procedures have been undertaken.

Rats have preyed on 75 species of seabird around the world. One academic paper describes rats as being amongst some of “the largest contributors to seabird extinction and endangerment worldwide”. The arrival of one pregnant female could be all it takes to put Skomer or Skokholm at that level of risk.

2. Why have you made these changes? We’ve been coming for years but this is new.

With increasing numbers of people coming to the Pembrokeshire islands, the risk of rats and mice arriving has increased significantly. There is also greater awareness of how severe the impacts can be. By taking this action, we are bringing our safeguards in line with similar island nature reserves around the world. We know you visit Skomer because it is special, and we all want to keep it that way.

3. I know this bag is safe- why are you making me check or re-pack it?

Our quarantine policy will only work if we adhere to it absolutely. We have made the decision to prevent any open bags and boxes being landed on the island. Small mice for example can hide remarkably well and whilst your home might be rodent free, things like rucksacks, sleeping bags etc. may be stored in garages, attics or sheds that are less rodent-proof. Therefore we are asking the contents of all open bags- however empty or visible- to be manually re-packed into sealed containers which we will be able to loan you for your journey.

4. What about big deliveries to the island?

We have developed a wider quarantine plan which looks at all movements of people and materials to the island and addresses each according to the risk it presents. The movement of all materials will be subject to quarantine. More information on our wider procedures is available on request.

For further information or specific queries, contact Lizzie Wilberforce  (Conservation Manager) on l.wilberforce@welshwildlife.org

Wild Times Ahead for Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre!

children on the beach following a seashore safari

We are delighted to announce that our Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC), New Quay will be launching a brand new WILDLIFE WATCH group this March 2019 with an exciting range of WILD family fun activities and events.

Wildlife Watch is the junior branch of The Wildlife Trusts and the UK’s leading environmental action club for children. There are around 300 Wildlife Watch groups across the UK. By going along to a group you will be able to make friends with other nature detectives and have lots of fun.

Families and children can explore the rock-pools, become a Dolphin Detective, or learn more about Spectacular Seaweed!

Wildlife Watch sessions at CBMWC will run during term-time from 2-4 pm on the following Saturdays during 2019:

Saturday March 23rd,

Saturday April 27th,

Saturday May 18th,

Saturday June 15th,

Saturday July 20th,

Saturday September 14th,

Saturday October 19th

Children will just need to bring their love for all things wild, natural curiosity and enthusiasm, plus a pair of wellies, and a responsible adult! The sessions are £2 per child.

For more information regarding the sessions at CBMWC please contact Aline on 01545 560224 or email info@cbmwc.org . Booking is essential.

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. Patent Slip Building, Glanmor Terrace, New Quay SA45 9PS

Surprise, surprise!

sunfish

Wales is a popular destination for both people and marine wildlife alike.

During the summer months Welsh waters are visited by a number of surprising species that most people would never expect to find here!

The ocean sunfish is the largest of the bony fishes and they visit our seas to feast upon jellyfish.

An odd looking fish, their body is flat and circular and they have two elongated fins that look like wings. You can spot these strange animals resting on their side at the surface of the sea basking in the sun, hence the name! With their fin near to the surface they are often mistaken for sharks but they are unmistakable when seen up close.

Between May and October basking sharks, the second largest fish in the world, can also be spotted in our waters.

These 8 metre (26ft) long, ocean giants are filter feeders, opening their mouth up to a metre wide and filtering plankton from the water! Basking sharks are rarely seen during the winter months as they spend their time in deeper water feeding on plankton.

The most surprising of our summer visitors is the leatherback turtle and like the sunfish they come here to feed on jellyfish.

The largest individual ever record was found dead on a North Wales beach and he was around 2m long, weighed over 900kg and was believed to be over 100 years old! Leatherback turtles are unique amongst turtles as they can happily survive in colder seas, allowing them to live at higher latitudes where there are more jellyfish.

For further information on The Wildlife Trusts marine work please visit www.welshwildlife.org or livingseas.wales Follow us on Facebook and Twitter too @Wtsww  and @LivingSeasWales

What’s Occurring? February – March 2019

White-tailed Bumblebee on first Dandelions

First Signs of Spring

Seventy days after the winter solstice light is the major factor that is pushing almost all forms of life towards growth and breeding. Lengthening days makes temperature a contributory factor but it is normally fickle and not to be relied on. With temperatures in excess of 10ºC above the norm during the day and overnight frosts in this late February things are getting out of hand, with a record temperature in Aberystwyth in excess of 20ºC on the 25th. And that record was broken the following day on 26th with a temperature of 21ºC recorded at Kew Gardens, in contrast to a temperature of -17ºC recorded at Farnborough on 26th February 2018.

Some animals live in an environment where air temperature is not so critical, so trout have been spawning in rivers all winter with the water temperature between 8ºC and 5ºC. Whereas other animals live most of their lives where neither light nor air temperature have a direct effect, moles for instance…

A Mole’s life

Moles live a predominantly solitary life, but mole’s little home is actually a discrete network of tunnels. And their position and direction can be seen most easily at this time of year demarcated by the mole hills pockmarking the turf of a field or lawn.

Extraordinarily these tunnel networks become very prominent in the first quarter of the year, so what is going on? The tunnel network is designed as a trap for any mini beasts burrowing through the soil to fall into, which the resident mole patrols at regular intervals. Earth worms are the favourite fodder closely followed by beetle larvae, moth pupa, and leatherjackets.

With February being their breeding season the excellence and effectiveness of these civil engineering projects is an important factor in moles pairing up, encouraging the ladies to come calling.

Spring behaviour

On a warm sunny day there are a number of behaviours that show that spring is well on its way.  Magpies are seen in pairs or groups divisible by two. Wood pigeons undertake their significant dipping display flight with a loud wing clap and also can be heard cooing on a branch somewhere nearby, wooing a partner with much head and tail bobbing. Collared Doves make quite spectacular vertical display flights and the robin’s weak and reedy winter song starts to change.

Courting with Worm Charming, anyone?

Anyone in the Welsh lowlands and particularly urban areas should have seen Herring Gulls tap dancing on short grass turf on road verges, roundabouts, and in parks on moist mornings or after a shower of rain.  Are they trying to emulate Fred Astaire?

Well no, they are trying to find protein rich “sausages” with a core of fine earth, they are indeed worm charming. Or at least trying to scare any mini beasts into the open for a potential snack.  And in doing so they are cementing the pair bond with their partner for the forthcoming breeding season, although I have never seen them feed each other. We will soon have that raucous head back display call which wakes everybody up in the early morning.

Still Sleeping or Not?

Some beasts are still hibernating such as your garden snails, others are being subtler about it. BEWARE of curious piles of deciduous leaves it could be a hedgehog hibernaculum.  Pat Morris’ new monograph the Hedgehog No 137 in the New Naturalist Library published last year, states that these hibernacula are built for insulation both to keep the frost out and also to keep the warmth of an early spring day out as well.

Garden Snails Hibernating

Hibernating garden Snails

Other hibernators awake earlier such as the amphibians and of course there is frog spawn everywhere.

And we are just on the cusp of our early spring flowers opening, and with that, our hibernating queen bumblebees, particularly Buff-tailed, White-tailed, and Spring/Early species [orange tailed] are emerging. All these queens are carrying the hopes and fears for the year, a full set of fertilised eggs with which to found and maintain a bumblebee colony. So please look after them carefully and release them, should they accidentally enter your home.

These flowers also feed the range of hibernating butterflies, Brimstone, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, and Peacock, all of who have been seen on the wing in the last week.

What is Flowering?

Some flowers like the Bitter-cress family flower all winter long with tiny white flowers producing large amounts of seed to give gardener’s something to do all summer. Without many if any insects about plants in general use self-pollination or other species such as hazel resort to wind pollination.

The male yellow pollen filled hazel catkins are obvious in the hedgerows and along motorway embankments. The little red tuft of hairs that makes up the visible part of the female flower is much more-subtle at the top of the photograph.

male and female hazel catkins

Male and Female Hazel Catkins

Who is on the move?

Black-headed Gulls have gone off to moult their body feathers to give themselves some semblance of being black-headed before they breed.

With the wintering birds leaving, spring migrant birds are already arriving including Sand martins, Swallows and our first leaf warblers the Chiffchaff. The Chiffchaff being first is hardly a surprise as they have taken to overwintering in UK. If they have migrated, it is only to winter in the Mediterranean and North Africa so less distance to return, whereas their doppelgänger the Willow Warbler, with that wonderful “waterfall of notes” as a call, crosses the Sahara into West Africa and will not be back until late April.

A big dragonfly, the Vagrant Emperor, has ignored the fact that it is the end of February and arrived from the Sahara to hunt for insects over Poppit Sands in the Teifi Estuary. Together with a number of sightings of Painted Lady butterfly across West Wales, a species which also migrates here from North Africa in some years, and occasionally this early, but is also known to return south in the autumn, rather than hibernate.

With the spring equinox on 20th March, we are close to having more daylight than darkness, and the intensity of the dawn chorus will increase. Some of the wind section have been practising, but it is normally not until mid-March that the entire population of male Blackbirds all join in. And then you know it is spring…

Keeping in the cows at Y Gweira

highland cows wandering across a field

Although the sight of cattle roaming freely across Llantrisant Common isn’t anything out of the ordinary, during the summer of 2018 there were a few more beasts on the loose than there should have been!

The four seemingly docile highland cows which were lightly grazing the grassland habitat at Y Gweira Nature Reserve, located in the corner of the common, had somehow worked up the gusto to half-jump over, half-crush, the stock fencing and escape into the surrounding farmland. Not only was this an issue for our poor grazier who had to track them down and return them to the reserve, but it also meant that we lost out on grazing on the nature reserve since our cows were having their appetites filled elsewhere.

Y Gweira Nature Reserve

Y Gweira is a mosaic of wet heath, mire and marshy grassland, with plants such as Petty Whin and Devil’s bit scabious scattered about. Royal Fern, which is rare in the Eastern part of Glamorgan, grows along the wet ditches on the reserve. As with most grasslands, grazing (or a simulation of) is needed in order to maintain the balance of species, and at Y Gweira the highland cows were helping to prevent the rushes, brambles and young birch scrub from becoming too vigorous.

However, after learning that they were stronger than the fence, the highland cows escaped several times during the summer and eventually the naughty things had to be returned to the farm, meaning that Y Gweira lost out on a month of grazing.

Hard work and Helping Hands

Not wishing for a repeat of that this year myself and the valleys volunteers have been working incredibly hard to replace the fencing on the nature reserve and to make it fully cow-proof. Vehicle access is very limited due to the terrain and the delicate nature of the habitat, so almost all the tools and materials were carried across the field, and each fence post (over 200 of them!) knocked into the ground, by hand.

Thankfully there was help to be had!

Dewi John, a local farmer and freeman of Llantrisant, kindly transported a trailer load of fence posts across the common to Y Gweira with his tractor. Student volunteers from Bridgend College came twice to help with the fencing under the instruction of Lyn Evans, a lecturer in Environmental Conservation. Natural Resources Wales covered the cost of the fencing materials needed.

Without all this help we wouldn’t have been able to complete this fairly mammoth task, and wouldn’t have had much hope of being able to contain our (not-quite-so-mammoth) cows on the nature reserve. We hope to have them securely grazing Y Gweira in March.

Thanks to everybody for their efforts!

To join a volunteering work party, contact Lorna l.baggett@welshwildlife.org

Volunteering Winter works in Ceredigion and Brecknock

Winter is a busy time for Em and the volunteers at the reserves in Ceredigion

Our molinia cutting and raking continued at Rhos Glyn yr Helyg throughout December.  Since the new year scrub clearance has taken over.

A five year blackthorn cutting rota was instigated at Caeau Llety Cybi to help control it better but also to make the habitat more suitable for brown hairstreak butterflies.

At Allt Crug Garn we discovered a fallen tree which we needed to clear before we cut back the birch regrowth and cleared some of the dead molinia. The heather and bilberry are beginning to grow back nicely.

We cleared brambles and gorse from the meadows at Coed Maidie B Goddard.

At Rhos Glandenys there were more fallen willow that needed to be cleared

Fallen trees, broken fencelines and a misbehaving stream were the issues to resolve at Rhos Pil Bach in February.

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales are very grateful to the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery who have made all this work possible.

If you’d like to join our work parties, get fit and meet new people, contact Em:  e.foot@welshwildlife.org

Peoples postcode lottery logo

A big hello to our new and returning volunteers at our Brecknock Reserves!

And thanks to everyone who has come out over the winter to do conservation work and site maintenance on the reserves.  We haven’t been too badly affected by snow this year and have got a lot done.

In the Ystradgynlais reserves we have been focussing our efforts on bramble control, this has been helped by an extra brushcutter which was kindly donated and training last year for some volunteers to use them.

We have been doing quite a bit of fencing and over the last year the group as a whole have become skilled in ramming in posts and constructing strainers.  Recently we have been working up at Pwll y Wrach along the boundary with pastureland.  We have seen hare and deer on this undisturbed side of the reserve.

While doing some work at Trewalkin Meadow we found this lovely “ striated” birds-nest fungus Cyathus striates growing on woody debris.

striated bird nest fungus

Birds nest fungus

And at Wern Plemys this Hookeria Lucens Shining Moss a locally common but easily identifiable moss because the cells in the leaves are so big (which means it can’t be a liverwort). Thanks to George Tordoff for ID’ing this.

Hookeria lucens shining moss

Hookeria Lucens Shining Moss

Out and about we also spotted some common winter fungus:  Jelly Ear (Glasbury Cutting) and Scarlet elf cap Carcoscypha coccinea at Ystrad Fawr

If you’d like to join our volunteering work parties in Brecknock, please contact Steph Coates on  S.coates@welshwildlife.org

Best Reserves for Spring Flowers

bumblebee sitting on a daffodil

Spring is Like a Perhaps Hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window, into which people look (while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here) and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there) and

without breaking anything.

-E.E.Cummings 1894 – 1962

 

Like this poem observes, spring flowers can seem to appear from nowhere after the cold depths of winter and spring changes things in nature without removing anything.  Slowly changing and rearranging as ‘people stare carefully’.

Each year spring seems to get a little earlier and it is always exciting to see those first stirrings as nature wakes up from its winter slumber.

We have some amazing reserves to see spring flowers including the wild daffodils at Coed Y Bwl, near Bridgend.

The wild daffodils are already coming through with the full display expected in early March.   Set in the north west side of the Alun valley this stunning little nature reserve is well tended by a local group of volunteers who maintain its paths and walls. Every year this ancient ash woodland fills up with spring flowers, making it a spectacular sight, but the wild daffodils really make it special.

The daffodil is the flower for March with National Daffodil day being 23rd March and the national flower of Wales.  It is said that if you spot the first daffodil of the season, your next 12 months will be filled with wealth and giving a bunch of daffodils will ensure happiness.

Signs of other spring flowers in many of our nature reserves are appearing, Dog’s Mercury has pushed up it’s leaves in many of our woodland reserves, snowdrops are blooming in Dinefwr Castle Woods Llandeilo, and bluebells are pushing their leaves up across the patch.

Other reserves to see spring flowers include:

Coed y Bedw – Pentyrch, Cardiff. An ancient broadleaved woodland. Bus number 136 from Cardiff to Gwaelod-y-Garth. ST111827

Coed y Bwl – Castle Upon Alun, Vale of Glamorgan. Ancient ash woodland where wild daffodils and bluebells are in abundance. Bus numbers 146 and 145 from Bridgend. SS909749

Craig Cilhendre Woods, Pontardawe, Swansea. Partially ancient oak woodland with some newer woodland areas. Bus numbers 122, X20 and X25 from Swansea Quadrant Bus Station to Pontardawe. SN719022

Cwm Ivy Woods and Betty Church Reserve, Cwm Ivy, Gower, Swansea. Ancient broadleaved woodland with an abundance of spring woodland flowers, plantation and calcareous pasture and quarry. Bus number 116 from Swansea Quadrant Bus Station to Llanmadoc. SS438937

Melincwrt Waterfalls, Resolven, Neath, Port Talbot. Spectacular waterfall and ancient oak woodland with beautiful spring woodland flowers. Bus number X5 and X6 from Swansea Quadrant Bus Station or Neath Train Station. SN822020

Dinefwr Castle Woods, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. Lowland mixed deciduous woodland with an abundance of spring flowers in a stunning setting. On the train line – Swansea to Shrewsbury service. Bus number X13 from Swansea and the 280 from Carmarthen. SN623223

Coed Wern Ddu, Llanllwch, Carmarthen. Mixed deciduous and wet woodland with an abundance of spring flowers. No known public transport. SN373179

Poor Man’s Wood/Gallt y Tlodion, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. Sessile oak woodland with a hazel understorey. Lower down in the woodland is an abundance of spring flowers. On the train line – Swansea to Shrewsbury service. 280 from Carmarthen although the bus stop is a reasonable walk from the woodland. SN781351

Coed Penglanowen and Old Warren Hill, Nanteos, Ceredigion. A varied woodland which includes the county’s tallest tree, a specimen of Sequioadendron giganteum. This woodland has a spectacular display of spring woodland flowers. The Aberystwyth circular town service stops in Penparcau, a 2km walk to the reserve. SN611786

Penderi Cliffs, between Llanrhystud and Monk’s Cave, Ceredigion. Oak woodland hanging on to the cliffs with a spectacular spring flower display of flowers. Bus numbers X40, X50 and 550. SN553734

News from Vine House Farm

Blue Tit in Nesting Box by Gillian Day. Nest box Workshop

We are delighted to continue working in partnership with The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW). Vine House Farm donates £10 for every new Trust customer and 4% of every sale to WTSWW and other partner Trusts! Crucially, the donation has never been added to our prices – it’s simply something we allow for and our prices remain some of the lowest in the market.

Did you do your bit for National Nest box week?

14th -21st February (National Nest Box week) is an important month in the WILD calendar, particularly for our feathered friends. Providing nest boxes for birds in your garden is a great way to attract different species, plus it is fun and very rewarding to watch the whole process of birds first taking the box, building their nest, feeding their young, then the young emerging for the very first time. Vine House Farm have a great guide to help you get the most out of your nest boxes including which direction should a box face, when’s the best time to put one up and special nest boxes for other species. Read the whole guide here

What’s happening on the farm?

Unusually we have been able to drill spring barley in January because we’ve had such a dry winter so far. I can’t remember doing this before, however that could be because we’ve grown very little spring barley. In recent years, things have changed – we now need to have more spring crops because of a problem with blackgrass.

Bird seed is in big demand with the cold weather, so we are kept busy all through the winter months.

We have all heard too much about Brexit but we have not had many details about how it will affect agriculture. What we have heard is that the government says it will reward those farmers looking after the environment and so I am looking forward to hearing more of their plans.

Wildlife

I would normally expect the Lapwings to go south and west during the cold weather, but they are still around. Most of them during the day have been standing on the ice on one of the recently excavated gravel pits. As the light fails in the evening, they will fly to various fields in the district to feed.

We have more Buzzards and Kites about than ever. Both are supposedly carrion eaters, but only last week I was driving down to Holbeach Marsh when this bird came diving out of the sky. Just as it hit the ground a pair of Grey Partridge took off and they were soon joined by another pair and off they flew. The Buzzard was left on the ground looking around without a meal.

Every bird of prey has a different method of hunting

Kestrels for example hover when searching for a meal. The Harriers we have appear to fly lazily over the land but they are searching for something to pounce on. Merlins chase Skylarks and Meadow Pipits across open ground and Peregrines swoop on their prey. Buzzards and Kites are carrion eaters but when there is no carrion they hunt for live prey by dropping down on them.

My bird feeding has attracted Sparrowhawks. However as I am feeding near hawthorn bushes, this offers the birds some protection. Sparrowhawks fly down the sides of the hedges, hoping to pounce on a bird that is flying out of the hedge. They cannot afford to try and get a bird that is flying into a thorn hedge as the Sparrowhawk may be injured.

Farm walks start in May, tickets can be bought online or by telephone

Dates: 18th May, 15th June, 6th July, 3rd, 10th and 11th August

For more information on their range of bird seed, bird feeders or advice visit the Vine House Farm website