Author: Laura Evans

A View of the Bay (week 3)

Living Seas volunteer Andy usually spends his time conducting Dolphin Watch surveys for Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre however, due to COVID-19 all our research work from CBMWC has been put on hold. He is lucky enough to live in a flat overlooking New Quay Bay and has spent lockdown wildlife watching from his home.

Andy Dolphin Watching (Nov 19)

Well what an amazing week it’s been in New Quay! The week’s unfolded like an unputdownable novel….fantastic dolphin activity, my first lockdown seal sighting, a manx shearwater frenzy, a crazy gannet day and lots of other wildlife moments.

So first let’s talk dolphins. Monday (18th), Wednesday (20th) and Sunday (24th) saw amazing dolphin activity including several mums with calves, dolphins right in the inner harbour and some great aerial displays. The leaping on Wednesday by the Cardinal Buoy was off the scale…how can they get so high from a watery take-off? All the judges were giving high scores!

Bottlenose Dolphin © Steve Hartley

On Saturday 15th I have my first Atlantic grey seal sighting of the lockdown. I first spotted it swimming and I twisted myself into pretzels to turn it into an otter but a seal it steadfastly remained until it finally ‘bottled’, ending the debate. So an otter sighting must wait till next week….

Atlantic Grey Seal © Dr Sarah Perry

Some onshore north-westerlies mid-week brought a bit of manx shearwater excitement…very close inshore and in numbers. Just such stunning pelagic wanderers, it always feels such a privilege to see them close like that. Sadly, one was found dead on the harbour wall the next morning which is surprising…not sure what would cause that other than attack by gulls?

It has been a fantastic week for gannet sightings but Tuesday and Friday were truly crazy, with constant multiple splashes. I was worried about the water depth given the speed of their descent…I envisaged having to pull a few out of the sand at low tide!

Max Shearwater © Jay Burk

Next mothy news. Last week was good for butterflies but this has been moth week with the star attraction being a poplar hawk moth which was hanging out in my hallway for two days. A very spectacular moth and worth a google. There’s also been a yellow-underwing moth on my outside doormat.

And then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…bats!! Friday night I sat outside my flat to watch all the activity. Two different species flittered past (flittering: technical bat watching term). Difficult to ID bats without a detector of course (one of which I’ve now purchased online for future encounters) but it seems likely that one was one or other of the two pipistrelle types. The other was bigger and it might have been a noctule.

Bat Detector

Finally I heard a squawking rumpus of crows outside my window on Saturday morning and looked out to see the already mentioned crows giving a visiting buzzard a jolly good pecking to see him off their property. Poor buzzard…its expression registered ‘ shock and caw’ as you can imagine.

Until next week! Take care.

A View of the Bay (week 2)

Living Seas volunteer Andy usually spends his time conducting Dolphin Watch surveys for Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre however, due to COVID-19 all our research work from CBMWC has been put on hold. He is lucky enough to live in a flat overlooking New Quay Bay and has spent lockdown wildlife watching from his home.

Andy dolphin watching (Nov 2019)

Hello again here is my ‘A View of the Bay’ weekly update for all those who are locked-down and missing New Quay Bay.

Quite a change from last week dolphin-wise! Earlier in the week we had some unsettled weather and incredibly I spotted several bottlenose dolphins, very briefly, in the choppy waves. It was far easier to view them from my comfy bar stool than from a windswept harbour wall. On Wednesday I spotted a dolphin right in the harbour area, where it stayed (probably foraging) for about an hour. On Thursday morning the dolphins were leaping and frolicking around the Cardinal Buoy for an hour or so. My sources living close to the fish factory also informed me that there was a group of adults and calves foraging just off the headland, at the start of the week.

Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphin

Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphin

On to avian matters…more overseas travelers returning with no need for quarantine! I spotted lots of swifts this week although their numbers are declining nationally. Another bird arriving in greater numbers are whitethroats, cute little Sylvia warblers with surprisingly white throats.  They perch on bush tops and give their scratchy, unmusical but very characteristic little song. It’s funny to think that a months ago their audience might have been giraffes and water buffalo in sub-saharan Africa!

Common whitethroat by Jon Hawkins

Perhaps not as rare as last week’s honey buzzard (but equally as stunning), a little egret cruised over my flat on Tuesday. They are quite common on estuaries in Wales now but still an unusual sighting.

I imagine the sea-bird colony at Bird Rock is jumping with activity and there have been way more auks whizzing past this week with lots of kittiwakes as well, easily identifiable by their bouncy flight and characteristic ‘dipped in black ink’ wingtips.

No new moth species this week sadly but a couple of good butterflies to report. My first red admiral of the year and a beautiful brimstone, one of my favourites. The brimstone is bright lemon yellow with wings a bit like Mr Spock’s ears from Star Trek.

Brimstone by Jim Higham

Brimstone by Jim Higham

That’s all until next week. Though I’ve been told that a year or two ago there were basking sharks seen in the bay in May so I’m keeping an eye out for those plus the manxies.

Rocky Shore Revelation

My interest in rocky shore ecology began two years ago when I started running family rockpool sessions in my role as Project Officer at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC). Although I’d completed a module in Marine Biology as part of my Zoology degree, the field sessions just hadn’t fired-up my imagination – it took the enthusiasm of a group of 6 year olds to spark an interest and to help me discover the simple delight of finding new and exciting creatures.

Although very familiar with a range of terrestrial wildlife, rocky shore species identification was a new challenge. I began by familiarising myself with a few of the commonly found species at New Quay and tapping into the knowledge the Living Seas volunteers. When working with 6-12 year olds it’s more important to introduce them to the wonderful variety of life in and around the rock pools.  Having a few funny, gross or just plain weird facts on-hand helps to maintain their interest. So, I quickly learned to point out flat periwinkles, shore crabs and prawns. When we did find something new, I’d try to spend time after the session to discover more about that species and to add to my fun facts list.

Flat periwinkle

 

 

Once my contract finished at CBMWC I decided I would like to spend more time familiarising myself with the rocky shore species where I live, on the stretch of coast north of Aberaeron. Lockdown has provided an unexpected opportunity to do this on my daily walk, as I’m fortunate to live 10 minutes from the beach.

My lower shore forays also coincided with an on-line Living Seas Wales project volunteer training session, run by Project Officer Laura Evans. This session on rocky shore species, helped to consolidate the knowledge I’d gained from my own rock-pooling, but also provided some handy hints and tips for finding and identifying the trickier species like the topshells and periwinkles (marine snails).

Small periwinkle in a barnacle test

I’ve since successfully identified a number of seaweeds including spiral wrack, Irish moss (which really does have an iridescent blue colour in the water), sea lettuce and coral weed. Other finds have included a velvet swimming crab, acorn barnacles with their kite-shaped opening, common limpet and both purple and toothed topshells. I discovered the delights of edible periwinkles and small periwinkles which are often found in the empty shells of barnacles. So far, I have found three species of anemone: beadlet, strawberry and snakelocks (the latter only in a single rock-pool so far!), but I’m still holding out hope for a jewel (gem) anemone. Once lockdown is over, I’m looking forward to visiting other local beaches with the Living Seas Wales project to discover new species and compare identification notes with other volunteers.

Snakelocks anemone

I submit all my species records to my Local Records Centre – West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre-  using the LERC Wales App. This sends the record directly to iRecord where each is verified by a UK expert in each species group. It’s good to know that my records are contributing to the bigger conservation picture – perhaps helping to track climate change as the distribution of a species changes, or for future conservation of a particular marine habitat or species.

Aline Denton

A View of the Bay

Living Seas volunteer Andy usually spends his time conducting Dolphin Watch surveys for Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre however, due to COVID-19 all our research work from CBMWC has been put on hold. He is lucky enough to live in a flat overlooking New Quay Bay and has spent lockdown wildlife watching from his home.

Andy in action! (Taken Nov 2019)

Hello folks, hope this finds everyone well and in good spirits despite current circumstances. It occurred to me that some people might be getting withdrawal symptoms from the lack of dolphin activity you can view in your back garden and that, along with an obvious desire to get back into the pub, a bit of an update entitled, ‘a View of the Bay’ might slake the marine wildlife thirst, if nothing else.

Luckily, as I relax on my stool at the bar in my living room, I have a great view of New Quay bay so can I give you an update of what’s been ‘occurrin’ since the lockdown began.

Not surprisingly, bottlenose dolphin activity has accelerated since late March/early April. At about that time, just before the lockdown, I saw my last harbour porpoise, interestingly, at the same time there was a dolphin in the bay. Since then, dolphin numbers have increased…as has the frequency of sightings. I’m being contacted by several other local folks and know that the epicentre of activity is the Cardinal Buoy and reef, whereas the evening hang-out seems to be near the fish factory. On one day last week there were about 30 dolphins in the bay…a friend took a photo (whilst on their daily walk) and past ShoreFin volunteer, Gemma identified regular visitor Jacky. This just goes to show that once a Shorefin volunteer, always a Shorefin volunteer!

Cardigan Bay’s Bottlenose Dolphins

In birdy news….as the only vehicles I see in the village are the bin lorry and Postman Pat on his round (apparently, he’s struggling to get Jess’s fave cat food) the place is incredibly quiet and this has made birding a lot easier. Early April brought the first chiffchaff call, then blackcap to be followed a week or so later by willow warbler, swallow and house martin.

Gannet activity has sky-rocketed this week from only a few birds in early April to literally hundreds in the bay, great for me to watch but pretty tough on the fish. There were several days with good numbers of sandwich terns but they’ve now continued north to breed. I can’t get round to Bird Rock of course but it’s clear the auks are back with loads in the bay now. So far none of the Skomer manxies have wandered past but I expect that’s next.

Northern Gannet

As I have been sitting outside the flat gazing wistfully at my kayak, rapidly gaining cobwebs, I’ve also seen some pretty uncommon birds….a honey buzzard last week and a grasshopper warbler the week before. I say spotted but grasshopper warblers are the shyest of birds but give themselves away by their reeling, rising and falling call. Lovely.

For butterfly and moth fans the past month has been excellent. My first butterfly at the start of April was the small tortoiseshell followed closely by speckled wood. Since then, the pace has quickened with holly blue, lots of whites, orange-tip and peacock. ‘Lockdown learning’ has been required for me to ID the moths that appear in my hallway attracted by the overnight light. The amazingly named brindled beauty has been here lots of mornings, you should look it up to see why brown may not be a boring colour after all!

Peacock Butterfly

And lastly, land mammal news! I’m used to lots of rabbits outside the flat on our lawn but it’s been so quiet they’ve bred like, well, rabbits and there’s more than usual. So imagine how surprised, and delighted, I was last week when across the lawn trotted a sprightly fox! Perfect views 20m from my front window as it hunted and chased several frightened bunnies, once again, tough on them but made my day.

I wanted to end with this – there’s a spot where I sit outside my flat to wildlife spot and during lockdown I’ve followed the progress of a tree as it’s emerged from its winter, leafless form into full bloom. I know it may not sound like riveting spectator viewing but the chance to observe the opening of the leaves (and the community of birds and animals living on it) has been truly fascinating. I’ve found out as well that it’s a sessile oak and a friend tell me that ‘sessile’ means ‘fixed in one place, immobile’ so presumably it’s called that to distinguish it from all the other oaks that are constantly running about!

We look forward to more wildlife updates from Andy next week. 

Sessile Oak Wood at Penderi Cliffs Reserve L Maiden

Sessile Oak

 

Living Seas Seasonal Volunteer Positions 2020

The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) is looking for dedicated and enthusiastic individuals to join our Living Seas Volunteer Team for the 2020 field season (March-November). Volunteers will assist with our Living Seas research and community engagement work.

Volunteering for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) at CBMWC is a fantastic opportunity for you to make a positive contribution to marine conservation, meet new people who share your interests and experience Wales’ amazing marine life. You’ll learn about the species and habitats in Cardigan Bay, gain vital experience in field work, research methods, community engagement and much more!

The volunteer programme at CBMWC has received national recognition after achieving the Investing in Volunteers Award (IiV), the UK’s quality standard for volunteer management, in January 2017. We provide a fantastic volunteer experience!

Past volunteers have gone on to further education, work as Marine Mammal Observers and to work for other conservation or Government organisations.

The seasonal volunteer positions available for 2020 include –

  • Living Seas Volunteers – tasks include land and boat based surveys, data entry, running our visitor centre, assisting with community engagement events and beach cleans.
  • ShoreFin Volunteers – tasks include photographing bottlenose dolphins from land, photo-ID, analysing data and writing the annual ShoreFin report.
  • SeaSeal Volunteers – tasks include land based seal surveys, photographing seals, photo-ID, analysing data and writing the annual SeaSeal report.

Visit the seasonal volunteer homepage to discover more about the roles and application process. Deadline for applications is 23:5pm on Sunday 5th January 2020.

Other volunteering opportunities – If you live locally to New Quay and are interested in volunteering at our centre please visit our local volunteer home page. For anyone living in the wider south and west Wales area, we’re looking for volunteers to become involved in the Living Seas Wales Project, please click here for further information.

If you have any questions please email volunteer@cbmwc.org or call 01545 560224.

Laura Evans, Living Seas Wales Project Officer

Hiking for Our Seas

Two dedicated marine enthusiasts, Aline and Paul are taking on the epic challenge of hiking 24 miles along the coastal path (in one day) to raise money for our vital marine conservation work.

Aline, Project Officer at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) and Paul a Living Seas volunteer have already dedicated much of their time and efforts to saving our precious seas. But, they want to take their commitment to the next level hiking 24 miles from Aberystwyth to New Quay!

The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre has been tirelessly working to protect the marine wildlife of Cardigan Bay for over 20 years. Based in the heart of New Quay, West Wales the centre has become the focus for marine research, education and awareness raising in the area. Using land and boat based surveys, photo-identification and acoustic studies we collect data on marine megafauna, focusing on bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises and Atlantic grey seals in the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the wider Irish Sea.

The CBMWC is home to a busy visitor centre and also provides marine educational activities for families, schools and groups. In 2015, the CBMWC became a part of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales Living Seas Wales project.

The project is dependant on the support and fundraising efforts of sea lovers like Aline and Paul. On Saturday 28th September the dedicated duo will set off from Aberystwyth seafront (where our Living Seas Volunteers conduct Dolphin Watch Surveys) and will tackle the various terrains the coastal path has to offer! The pair will finish the challenge in New Quay, home to our office, visitor centre and discovery room. Hopefully theyll spot some dolphins, seals or porpoise along with way!

We would really appreciate your support for this epic challenge and our Living Seas Wales project.

Help us protect our seas, visit our justgiving page and donate today.

Join our Living Seas Volunteer Team!

The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) is looking for dedicated and enthusiastic individuals to join our Living Seas Volunteer Team for the 2019 field season (25th March – 4th November 2019). Volunteers will assist with our Living Seas research and community engagement work.

Volunteering for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) at CBMWC is a fantastic opportunity for you to make a positive contribution to marine conservation, meet new people who share your interests and experience Wales’ amazing marine life. You will learn about the species and habitats in Cardigan Bay, gain vital experience in field work, research methods, community engagement and much more.

The volunteer programme at CBMWC has received national recognition after achieving the Investing in Volunteers Award (IiV), the UK’s quality standard for volunteer management, in January 2017. We provide a fantastic volunteer experience!

Past volunteers have gone on to further education, work as Marine Mammal Observers and to work for other conservation or Government organisations.

The positions available for 2019 include –

The closing date for applications is 23:59pm on Sunday 6th January 2019

Other volunteering opportunities – If you live locally to New Quay and are interested in volunteering at our centre please visit our local volunteer home page. For anyone living in the wider south and west Wales area, that we’re looking for volunteers to become involved in the Living Seas Wales Project, please click here for further information.

If you have any questions please email volunteer@cbmwc.org or call 01545 560224.

Laura Evans, Living Seas Wales Project Officer

Calling All Marine Enthusiasts!

Do you live in the south or west Wales area? Are you interested in marine conservation or the heritage/history of the Welsh coast? We’re looking for passionate volunteers to join our Living Seas team and to help us to help our seas.

“We need an army of people who love the sea and understand that there is no life without water” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity for you to make a positive contribution to marine conservation, meet new people who share your interests and experience Wales’ amazing marine life!

Living Seas Wales Volunteers can take part in or organise research and outreach activities in their local area, attend events including the Living Seas Live! Roadshow (set locations) or volunteer from home.

Volunteer activities include –

  • Conducting marine and coastal surveys
  • Helping with community outreach events e.g. talks, rock pooling and wildlife walks
  • Collecting, archiving and digitising historical records relating to welsh coastal/marine wildlife
  • Engaging with and inspiring the public through our Living Seas Live! Roadshow
  • Taking part in marine advocacy campaigns and much more

Volunteers living locally to New Quay can be based at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, and can also help to run our busy visitor centre (March-Nov).

YOU DON’T NEED A BACKGROUND IN SCIENCE TO BECOME INVOLVED! Full training and support will be provided by our living seas staff and existing volunteers.

Interested? We’re hosting a volunteer taster session on Saturday 22nd September, 10:30am-1pm at our centre in New Quay. Come along to find out how you can become involved and to try out a mini dolphin watch and beach clean.

For more information and to book a place on the taster session please contact Laura on volunteer@cbmwc.org or 01545 560224.

 

Living Seas Not Littered Seas

For over 15 years the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre have been tackling marine litter on New Quay’s beaches and the surrounding area. The dedicated Living Seas Team of staff and volunteers, host regular community litter picks and conduct beach cleans daily throughout the summer months.

Since 2011 the team have been recording the amount of litter collected, categories include plastic, cigarette butts, glass, rope/fishing gear, polystyrene and much more. During this time volunteers have spent over 950 hours collecting a staggering 157,736 pieces of litter which has included over 50,000 pieces of plastic! Click here to see more of our beach clean stats.

To kick start 2018, Year of The Sea in Wales, we asked the local community to join us for a beach clean. Over 50 volunteers attended the event helping to collect 25 rubbish filled bags from the three beaches in New Quay! If you would like to join our Living Seas Team for a beach clean we are running monthly clean ups over 2018, please visit our website or Facebook page for more details.

You can also make a difference by making a few small changes to reduce your use of single-use plastic. Click here to see our top tips for cutting out plastic.

Living Seas Volunteer Opportunities at CBMWC

The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) are looking for dedicated and enthusiastic individuals to join our Living Seas Volunteer Team for the 2018 field season (12th March – 5th November 2018). Volunteers will assist with our Living Seas research and community engagement work.

Volunteering for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) at CBMWC is a fantastic opportunity for you to carry out marine mammal research and become involved in environmental education and our awareness raising work. You will learn about the species and habitats in Cardigan Bay, gain vital experience in field work, research methods, community engagement and much more.

The volunteer programme at CBMWC has received national recognition after achieving the Investing in Volunteers Award (IiV), the UK’s quality standard for volunteer management, in January 2017. We provide a fantastic volunteer experience!

Past volunteers have gone on to further education, work as Marine Mammal Observers and to work for other conservation or Government organisations.

The positions available for 2018 include –

Deadline for applications is 23:59pm on Sunday 11th February. Applications will be reviewed as received and volunteer opportunities are available until filled.

If you live locally to New Quay and are interested in volunteering with us then please visit our local volunteer homepage. We’re always looking for local people to join our volunteer team.

If you have any questions please email volunteer@cbmwc.org or call 01545 560224.

Laura Evans, Living Seas Volunteer Coordinator

Christmas Gifts for Marine Enthusiasts!

Are you looking for a unique Christmas gift for a loved one? Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre can provide you with the perfect gift for any marine enthusiast.

You can Adopt a Cardigan Bay Dolphin here for just £30 a year! Choose from one of four Welsh dolphins, including newcomers Jacky and Dylan favourites of our Living Seas Volunteers. The adoption can be catered to adults or children (12 and under) and are filled with information about dolphins and other local marine life, a photo of your chosen dolphin, a cuddly toy (children) or tote bag (adult) and a £2.50 voucher off a Dolphin Survey Boat Trip.

You could also treat a loved one to a wildlife watching experience with a Dolphin Survey Boat Trips voucher with prices from just £22.50. These trips will offer the voucher holder with a chance to spot some of Wales’ amazing marine life including bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoise, Atlantic grey seals and a range of marine birds including gannets, razorbills and guillemots.

Not only are these great gifts your money and support will help us to continue our vital research as well as allowing us to raise awareness of the amazing marine life found in Wales and the problems faced by our marine animals.

Please be sure to order gifts by Monday 18th December to ensure they arrive in time for Christmas Day! All orders received after 21st December will not be fulfilled until the new year. 

Please direct enquires to info@cbmwc.org or call 01545 560224 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri)