Author: Gina Gavigan

Skomer Island Voted As The UK’s Favourite Nature Reserve!

Mystery Discovery Trails on Skomer Island

It’s official, The Wildlife Trusts’ Skomer Island is the UK’s Favourite Nature Reserve!

This wildlife haven located less than a mile off the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast was the only Welsh nature reserve nominated in this highly competitive category by LandLove Magazine Awards UK.

Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, Conservation Manager for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said “Skomer is internationally important for its seabird populations, and without a doubt it is the best place to see seabirds in southern Britain. It is a real privilege to care for a nature reserve which is so very important, but where we are also able to welcome so many visitors, and to know that the island’s wildlife makes such a profound impression on so many people.”

These are the second LandLove Magazine Awards; they aim to celebrate the very best things about the British countryside. Last year the awards received over 25,000 votes.

Skomer Island is home to an abundance of wildlife including 21,000 Puffins, 23,000 Guillemots, 7,000 Razorbills, Harbour Porpoises, Atlantic Grey Seals and has the world’s largest population of Manx Shearwaters. The island is covered in a carpet of Bluebells during the spring, a spectacular site not to be missed. A shade of pink is added to the island’s colour during the summer as swathes of Campion cloak the landscape.

Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manger for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said, “We are absolutely delighted that Skomer has been recognised as the UK’s Favourite Nature Reserve. It’s an amazing place to visit and stay for a unique wildlife adventure. The island attracts a variety of visitors including wildlife enthusiast, photographers, and walkers. Proceeds raised by visitors and overnight guests support our vital research and conservation work. We’d like to thank everyone that took the time to vote and we hope to see you on the island soon!”

Skomer is managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and will be open to visitors from Friday 25th March 2016 until October 2016. Members of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales receive free landing on Skomer and priority booking on overnight stays. #FindYourEpic in 2016 on Skomer!

If you’d like to visit, attend an event or book an overnight stay on the UK’s Favourite Nature Reserve in 2016 then please visit: for further information or call 01239 621600 or email:

Welsh Wildlife Centre Wins Gold!

Welsh Wildlife team winning the Gold Award

The Wildlife Trusts’ Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran has won the prestigious Visit Wales ‘Gold’ Award for outstanding customer service and facilities.  Located in the heart of the beautiful Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve, the award winning and iconic Welsh Wildlife Centre is home to the Glasshouse Café, Wildlife Trust gift shop and interactive family interpretation area.

Mark Hodgson, Hospitality Manager at the Welsh Wildlife Centre said, “We are absolutely delighted to have won this award from Visit Wales. Running a successful visitor attraction is very much a team effort; I would like to personally thank our dedicated team of friendly front line volunteers and staff for making this award possible”.

To highlight and honour excellence in customer service and visitor facilities Visit Wales has introduced a series of accolades which will be awarded to visitor attractions that are part of the Visitor Attractions Quality Scheme. The awards are allocated through a scoring system based on a biennial assessment by Visit Wales.

The Welsh Wildlife Centre and Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve is home to an abundance of amazing wildlife.  The 270 acre reserve and has four specially marked wildlife trails for visitors to enjoy as well as a giant willow badger, adventure playground, willow maze and unique tree top hide.

The Starling murmuration during the winter is a spectacle is not to be missed. Witness thousands of Starlings dance and fall to roost in the early evening sky onto the beautiful reed beds of the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve. Look out for the magnificent birds of prey in hot pursuit particularly Peregrine Falcons and Goshawks.

Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manager at The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said, “Tourism is a highly competitive industry and the attractions sector in Wales is in a particularly strong position with a very promising future. As a Wildlife Trust, we offer visitors memorable wildlife experiences from our many visitor centres, nature reserves and islands. We recognise the importance of delivering outstanding customer service and are constantly striving for excellence in our visitor experiences and at our attractions”.

If you’d like to experience award winning customer service this winter then why not pay The Welsh Wildlife Centre a visit. Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran.   SA43 2TB.

Skomer Island remains the best place to see puffins in southern Britain!

Puffins have been included in this latest IUCN red list because of their recent very poor trends in the north of Britain, and elsewhere in northern Europe.

They have had some catastrophic breeding seasons in these areas and have seen significant population declines. This is thought to be linked to climate change reducing the availability of their preferred food source (sand eels) and fishing practices.

So far this effect has not been manifest on WTSWW’s Skomer and Skokholm Islands, and Skomer remains the best place to see puffins in southern Britain. We can be confident that we are not yet seeing any declines because of the intensive monitoring of the total numbers and breeding success that our wardens undertake on both islands every summer.

Puffin populations on The Wildlife Trust’s Skomer and Skokholm islands are actually continuing to show an increasing trend that has been recorded fairly continuously over recent decades. The only impact we have seen locally that may be attributable to climate change is the effect of heavy storm events causing increased mortality; events such as these may increasing in frequency.

Our puffin monitoring in 2015 gave a peak count on Skokholm of 6665 individuals (5070 in 2014) and 21,349 individuals on Skomer (18,237 in 2014).

The threat faced by puffins globally means that we need to be extremely vigilant and work hard to address the large scale threats posed by both climate change and fishery management, and at an international scale. We also need to be aware that funding for seabird monitoring is currently highly threatened.

The importance of the Skomer and Skokholm puffin populations, and the Wildlife Trust’s ability to be able to continue our detailed monitoring, and maintain long term datasets, cannot be over-stated if we are to address the threats currently facing the species.

Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, Conservation Manager.

Skomer island will open to visitors from Friday 25th March 2016.  Members of WTSWW receive free landing and priority booking on overnight stays to Skomer and Skokholm.

Bridgend Nature Reserve Scoops Prestigious Award!

A South Wales nature reserve, Parc Slip, owned and managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, has fought off competition from across Britain to become the national winner of Biffa Award’s Rebuilding Biodiversity project of the year prize.

The Wildlife Trust has managed Parc Slip nature reserve in Tondu, near Bridgend, since 1989. Formerly an opencast coal mine, the site has been transformed back to a wildlife haven that supports one of the few remaining breeding populations of lapwing in south Wales, as well as locally important populations of reptiles, dragonflies and damselflies.

In 2012 The Wildlife Trust received funding to undertake wildlife conservation work at the site from Biffa Award.

Over the following three years Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers have undertaken habitat improvements for Lapwing, created new arable crops to provide winter food for birds like Goldfinches and Yellowhammers, and introduced three much loved highland cattle to the site which help manage the grasslands better for wildlife.

Rob Parry, Conservation Manager for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, who accepted the award on behalf of the Wildlife Trust at a national ceremony in Coventry this month, said

“we’re absolutely delighted that Parc Slip has been awarded this prize. Our staff and volunteers have worked incredibly hard to make the nature reserve the best place for wildlife it can be. We’ve had brilliant feedback from all our visitors who walk the reserve and who have seen the changes that we’ve made on the site. We’re incredibly grateful to Biffa Award for the difference their funding has made.”

He added,

“the prize money of £1500 will be invested back into Parc Slip. We intend to put it towards the costs of building a new bird hide so that visitors can enjoy the site even more, and help us monitor the wildlife that uses the nature reserve.”

Parc Slip nature reserve and visitor centre can be found by following white on brown tourism signs from junction 36 from the M4. The nature reserve is open seven days a week and the visitor centre open from Tuesday – Sunday (10:00am – 4:00pm).

Breast, fly or crawl…let’s hope Dave can swim it all!

Dave Astins 1

David Astins

Dodging dolphins, avoiding jelly fish and battling the Pembrokeshire currents to raise money for charity.

On the 22nd of August at approximately 7am Dave Astins, a daring volunteer and supporter of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales will be attempt a treacherous sponsored swim from Marloes Sands, across Marloes Bay to the beautiful Skokholm Island approximately 2.5 miles in a straight line!

The Wildlife Trust have carried out research and have yet to find someone who has successfully completed and recorded the swim from the mainland to the island, so this is quite possibly a first!   Dave who works in Education and Children’s Services for Carmarthenshire County Council said, ‘The distance isn’t a fear for me but the strong currents, jellyfish and basking sharks are a different story…it will also be a truly unique way of getting to Skokholm Island’.

After the swim Dave also plans on staying on the island for 3 nights, and carrying out some volunteering for the Wildlife Trust whilst there.

SkokholmDave who trains with Pembrokeshire Triathlon Club will raise money towards the Wildlife Trusts’ work on Skokholm Island, a world famous seabird colony and Britain’s first Bird Observatory.

If you’d like to help Dave support the Wildlife Trust then please visit the JustGiving page here!

Contacts :

Gina Gavigan (01656 724100)

Marketing & Development  Manager

Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales


Notes to editor:

Photos are for one time use only and must be credited:

Dave Astins

Our website:

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales is the largest charitable organisation working exclusively on all aspects of wildlife conservation in south and west Wales.

The Wildlife Trust works for a better future for all kinds of wildlife across south and west Wales. Our mission is to protect and improve habitats and wildlife in our local area as well as helping people to enjoy and understand their local wildlife.  Our vision is for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone.

We achieve this through:

Acquiring and managing nature reserves – we currently manage around 85 nature reserves throughout South and West Wales (including Skomer and Skokholm islands).   From ancient woodland to wetland, wildflower meadow to marsh, reed bed to heathland, they contain a rich variety of species, many extremely rare. These nature reserves form a land holding equal to approximately 4,000 acres.  Of these reserves10 lie within Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas, seven are National Nature Reserves (NNRs), 40 are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and five are Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Acting as wildlife champions – by advising on policy and planning, campaigning on wildlife issues, and protecting wildlife beyond our reserves.  We provide habitat and species management advice directly to those managing land and we also work with key partners and local people to promote habitat enhancement and restoration.

Helping people understand, protect and celebrate their environment – the Trust promotes the view that people from all sections of society should have access to wildlife and the natural world for enjoyment, learning, and well-being.  We invest in the future by helping all ages to gain a better understanding of nature. Our work with schools and our junior club, Wildlife Watch, is enjoyed by hundreds of children.