Author: Laura Evans

Living Seas Wales is going LIVE!

Lights, camera….action! TV Wildlife Presenter Lizzie Daly and the Wildlife Trusts’ Living Seas Wales team are going LIVE on Saturday 23rd January at 10:30am to celebrate the successes of the Living Seas Wales project.

The Living Seas Wales is a Wales wide coastal project that was launched in June 2018. The project is a collaboration between The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and North Wales Wildlife Trust and has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Coming to you LIVE from New Quay and Cemlyn this special virtual event will feature the wonders of our rockpools, the Cardigan Bay Dolphin Watch webcam and will celebrate all things marine in Wales! Viewers will also have a chance to ask Lizzie and our Living Seas Wales teams questions through the LIVE feed.

Nia Jones, Living Seas Manager for North Wales Wildlife Trust said “it is quite amazing what wonderful marine wildlife we have on our doorstep here in Wales. The Living Seas Wales project has given us the opportunity to showcase our coast and we’ll be celebrating all our achievements and the hard work of our volunteers through the LIVE broadcast.”

Dr Sarah Perry, Living Seas Manager for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said “with many of us missing our coasts due to lockdown, Living Seas Wales LIVE provides the prefect chance to bring our seas to you wherever you are!”.

Living Seas Wales Live will be broadcast via Facebook and Youtube at 10:30am on Saturday 23rd January. To sign up please visit

An Eco-Friendly Festive Season

It’s the time of year when people start to think about the dreaded “C” word … but did you know in the UK alone we produce 30% more waste than usual during the festive period? Never fear our Living Seas team are here to help you make greener choices this festive season whether it’s ditching cards, choosing more nature-friendly gifts or transforming items into decorations!

Our guide to an eco-friendly festive season

  1. Ditch the Cards

It’s estimated that around 1 billion Christmas cards end up in bins every year. That’s equivalent of 33 million trees! The best option for our planet is to ditch the cards in favour of e-cards, a text or even a social media post wishing your friends and family a happy festive season.

Top tip – transform cards that have been sent to you into gift tags or tree decorations.

  1. Gifting

Wildlife Watch Membership – Photo by Tom Marshall

Buying gifts can be the toughest step on the festive season “To Do” list and each year over 21 million people in the UK receive at least one unwanted gift. This year why not buy your loved one an eco-friendly gift instead?

  • Give the gift of nature this year with a membership to The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales
  • Put together a zero-waste kit. You could include shampoo and soap bars, a bamboo toothbrush, a re-usable bottle or travel mug.
  • Go vintage! Buying vintage or pre-loved items is better for the environment and you never know what hidden gems you will uncover
  • When buying gifts try to choose items than can be used multiple times and come with as little packaging as possible.

If you are shopping for gifts this year please consider purchasing your present from our Wildlife Trust online web shop, all proceeds support our vital conservation work and important research

  1. Wrapping Up

In the UK we’ll use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper a year! It may look pretty but shiny and glittery paper isn’t recyclable so will just end up in landfill. And let’s not forget that Sellotape is made of plastic. So, what are the alternatives?

  • Use brown paper with biodegradable paper or washi tape
  • Try re-usable items like boxes and 100% organic cotton or hemp bags
  1. Choosing a tree

Both real and fake trees have an impact on our environment; a staggering 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses are emitted by the 7 million real trees that end up in landfill every year and fake trees are typically made of plastic and can’t be recycled.

Real or fake: never throw a Christmas tree away!

If you choose a real tree

  • Plant it in your garden so you can use it again and gain
  • Rent a sustainably grown tree

If you choose a fake tree

  • By pre-loved instead of a brand-new tree
  • If you buy a new tree then re-use it each year

If you’re thinking about changing your current tree then don’t just throw the old one away … give it to friends or family, sell it or donate it to charity.

  1. Time to decorate

You probably have a magical box full of sparkly, festive decorations hidden in the attic or under the stairs ready to pull out in December. Most of these decorations won’t be recyclable so make the most of what you have and don’t throw anything away!

If you want to add something new then try these eco-friendly options –

  • Make your own! Transform old clothes, fabric scraps or waste into beautiful decorations
  • Buy pre-loved decorations from charity shops or websites like Ebay
  • Swap decorations with your friends or family

Top tip – turn off your lights overnight or when you leave the house to save energy and help the planet!

  1. Food glorious food

Leftovers can make a tasty meal

Each year we waste a staggering 4.2 million plates of turkey and trimmings and 74 million mince pies over the festive season. Taking the environmental impact and the fact that the Trussell Trust has seen a 74% increase in food back usage in the past five years, this really does seem criminal! So what can you do to reduce your food waste this year?

  • Plan your meals and when standing in the supermarket or ordering food online ask yourself “do I really need this?”
  • If you have leftovers use them! From turkey curry to bubble and squeak there as so many tasty meals you can create with leftovers

Visit Click here to visit the love food hate waste website for information on how to store food and handle leftovers

We hope the guide to an eco-friendly festive season will help you to make some changes this year. Don’t forget to think about the greener choices you can make when buying items such as advent calendars and crackers.

National Marine Week 2020

This National Marine Week we are showcasing our sensational shorelines

National Marine Week is The Wildlife Trusts’ nationwide celebration of all things marine and runs from 25th July – 9th August 2020. Yes, we know it lasts longer than a week!

This year’s theme is … explore the shore and usually our Living Seas team, based at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre would be running events such as seashore safaris, beach cleans and Shoresearch surveys throughout the two weeks.

However, this year we’ll be celebrating virtually so to join in with the fun, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where we’ll be sharing a range of DIY events, videos, quizzes and much more!

Don’t worry if you don’t have a social media account you can still take part in National Marine week by downloading our range of shoreline activity sheets here –


You could even create a National Marine Week sand sculpture

⚠️ If you do spend time on the shoreline then please ensure you adhere to Welsh Government COVID-19 guidelines and respect our fragile marine wildlife⚠️

Not able to get to the coast? Here are some home based activities for you to dive into –

Don’t forget to share your photos or artwork with our Living Seas Team!

On My Time As A Living Seas Volunteer

Myself and other conducting a land based survey (Feb 2020)

Hi, my name is Rosie. I have been a local volunteer at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre for about a year now, and love it. I have always been interested in wildlife, especially marine, having done a lot of scuba diving in the past and I also feel strongly about conservation and ecology.

The tasks of a Living Seas volunteer are many and varied, and the hours are completely flexible. I was initially attracted to taking part in land surveys to monitor dolphins porpoise and seals. Surveys happen almost all year round, weather permitting! We record dolphin numbers, their location in New Quay bay and their behaviours. We also monitor how they respond to the sometimes large volume of boat traffic in the area and how the boat traffic behaves around the animals. I never tire of watching these incredible animals foraging, playing, leaping and tossing fish and jellyfish into the air. It was really special to see a very young calf closely protected by mum and the pod.

I have also helped to run several stalls set up to engage with the public at events in the local area.  I enjoy chatting with children and adults about the local sea life, looking at skulls and other artefacts and using fun activities such as the limpet stacking challenge and VR headsets to help foster an interest in the marine environment. It’s always lovely to see how interested people are in the natural world. We have also gone into schools to engage with the children in a similar way.

Myself and Living Seas staff and volunteers at the Sea2Shore Festival (Aug 19)

During my time as a volunteer we have carried out several beach cleans. On each occasion, I have been bowled away by how many members of the public get involved regardless of the weather and how strongly they feel about the marine and coastal environment.  Oh and  talking of environment, we were also involved in a local climate change demonstration, with a view to promoting how the Wildlife Trust makes an active contribution to ecology and habitat conservation.

At the moment during COVID-19 lockdown all of our face to face activities involving the public as well as the land surveys are on hold. We are trying to encourage people to record their marine memories linked to the Welsh marine environment for the Living Seas Wales Project. We’re also creating educational content for social media and some of us are continuing to do litter picks, during our daily walks around the countryside and beaches near our homes.

I am very much looking forward to returning to a more active involvement with the CBMWC, hopefully it won’t be too long. I’m most excited about getting back to the harbour wall and seeing those dolphins again!


A View of the Bay (week 8)

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 Watch (Nov 2019)

Another pretty busy week in the bay and surrounds as we head towards July (can you believe that!). We’ve had mixed weather all week, with temperatures in the top twenties midweek then down to low teens with strong winds by the weekend.  So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the wildlife has been a bit random.

Great news for cetacean lovers….we’ve had two species in the bay for the first time in ages! The bottlenose dolphins have been active most days of the week, in all the usual spots – leaping, socialising and logging at the surface. However, the standout, for unusualness, came on Wednesday in the shape of a tiny juvenile harbour porpoise, brilliant. I thought it was a big fish at first as it breached on its side so the tail fluke looked like a vertical tail fin. A brief but really exciting find. Perhaps even more amazing, pretty much at the same time, a sunfish flapped slowly past the harbour wall, quite close in so giving good views. The upward fin’s the giveaway, this one was quite small but again, very exciting find.


Sunfish © Steve Hartley

We’ve had hardly any jellyfish to date (with my sea-swimming hat on I’m fine with that!) but this week has produced both several compass jellies and abarrel jellyfish, Wouldn’t it be great if a leatherback turtle paid us a visit for some jellyfish sushi?

Birdy-wise, the various weather moods have produced some interesting sightings….manxies, kittewakes plus a few fulmars on the windy days. The unusual highlights of the week for me have been a flock of curlew going through (heard, not seen sadly) and the first sounds of baby auks in the bay. The adult’s rough growls are easily separated from the piping calls of their offspring. It’s great that they once again survived the ‘leap of faith’ off the cliffs to start their careers at sea.
Another new arrival, some post-breeding mediterranean gulls have been around all week….don’t be fooled by the name, Med gulls have been breeding in Wales for quite a few years now and their really smart black hoods and white wingtips are a real standout next to the more regular gulls.

Compass Jellyfish © Jay Burk

Other flying things like bats, moths and butterflies have been good too. A couple of newbies, an early thorn moth in my hallway (easy to ID as its a moth which closes its wings at rest) and my first meadow brown butterfly of the year. Neither are rare species but good to see.

Finally, bat lovers, I was treated to a great, circuiting display by a common pipistrelle bat on Wednesday at sunset. It was still light enough to see its silhouette as it patrolled an area outside giving really good calls on my bat detector at about 45KhZ….defo worth investing in if you like your bats

Bat Detector

See you next week.

A View of the Bay (week 7)

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.So, what a week of wildlife fun it’s been…enough to keep me wildlife watching for hours.

Andy Dolphin Watching (Nov 2019)

Hi all, welcome to the latest latest from New Quay bay here as some glimmers of post-lockdown treats loom on the horizon….extensions to travel and possibly more visitors to our sleepy little ‘drinking village with a fishing problem’.

Well, its a famous spot for the resident bottlenose dolphins and, by cracky, what a week its been in that respect. Really no days when nothing was happening but plenty of days when it looked liked everything was happening. Tuesday and Saturday were definitely the biggies with upwards of 12 animals present most of the day, usually in two groups, displaying lots of aerials and loops like Swansea airshow. Quite a few juveniles about too, I think three. Plus I also saw that really unusual behaviour we record as ‘logging’ on watches when dolphins just lie at the surface do pretty much nothing.

Sadly, the two minke whales which were seen off Strumble in Pembs last week decided against a trip further eastwards to our patch, probably as well as I’d have required CPR if I’d seen them, I do get a bit excited by stuff like that.

Bottlenose Dolphins © Sarah Perry

Plenty of other little highlights though this week….got to mention the really amazing number of bullfinches this year. Never a ‘common’ bird, I don’t seem to be able to go anywhere local without tripping over some. Delightfully pair -bonded, bullfinches are pretty much always in a pair or foursome and are quite unobtrusive apart from an usual round white rump patch and a beautiful, soft single note whistle, once heard, never forgotten.

On the Lepidoptera front, a bit quiet, no new moth species but quite a few red admirals and one potential new one for this year which leads me into an interesting section of the blog which we’ll title ‘things you’ve seen which you can’t really ID’.
Potentially frustrating, we all have those moments that, without a television action-replay facility, leave an impression of a species but no definite ID….or even a good view of something which you still can’t ID!

The butterfly in question was a ‘painted lady-ish‘ thing which bumped into my window then was gone. I only had a fleeting glimpse of ‘bigness’ & ‘orangeness’ before it flew away. Not rare, and some summers we get loads, just didn’t see this one well enough.

Painted Lady

Mid-week brought another mystery…a sea duck in the bay which defied my efforts to name it. All dark, quite long tail, small head, sea duck profile (usually flat and wide to give stability in bumpy water). It could have been a long-tailed duck but a) strange plumage and b) wrong time of year to be here. We’ll never know!

And lastly, and excitingly despite the no-ID…a friend in the village sent me a pic of a very weird looking swift amongst a flock of swifts, again a real puzzle. We might send this to the County Bird Recorder as rare swifts do get seen in the UK but sadly, a definite ID is only really possible with photo’s of the bird from above and below and evidence of plumage differences. In my head its little swift but officially, it remains a mystery.

Happily, the week ended with a splendid calling cuckoo in the woods above my flat! Pretty sure I can ID that one.

Cheers all, see you next week.

A View of the Bay (week 6)

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.So, what a week of wildlife fun it’s been…enough to keep me wildlife watching for hours.

Andy Dolphin Watching (Nov 2019)

Interesting week folks…one of some wildlife identity crisis issues in fact for some of our creatures! What do I mean by that I hear you say? Well, in amongst the regular sightings (of which more in a mo), there have been some real anomalies… a moth that thinks its a butterfly, a seabird that thinks its a land-bird, a night-hunter that likes to be out mid-afternoon and a fish that thinks its a bird! Read on and discover.

So, Monday brought tons of dolphins (almost literally, three were the biggest I’ve ever seen) all around the bay but mostly in the usual spots…near the Cardinal buoy, end of the harbour wall etc. Lots of leaping and, on the calmer days, quite a bit of chilling at the surface.

The bay is now permanently full of guillemots and razorbills doing their aukey stuff, big numbers seemingly this year. And the first of my 4 ‘weirdo’s’ mentioned above, leaping fish! I’ve seen so many mackerel airborne this week it’s incredible…fully out of the water. I always check for dolphins when I see this happen but so far none, perhaps its patrolling bass that cause this or the fish really do think they’re birds.

Bottlenose Dolphins © Dr Sarah Perry

Secondly, on the oddness scale, fulmars over my front lawn during a midweek storm, oddly, with offshore winds. First time I’ve seen that…fulmars often seek inland cliffs to breed but seeing them right outside the flat’s a first for me. The same storm also brought the manx shearwaters in very close…so close they were being obscured by the trees when viewed from the flat.

After the storm, a kestrel has been patrolling this part of the kites and buzzards are frequent here (great news as they were so rare until quite recently) but kestrel are unusual. More unusual for me, the third anomaly species, a stunning black, red and white ‘butterfly’ mid-afternoon on Friday turned out to be a garden tiger moth…day flying and brightly coloured it really was a gaudy treat to enjoy.

The final ‘who am I, what am I doing here’ species … a pair (or was it parent/young ?)of tawny owl, several times, mid-afternoon during the week. The female or young ‘eee-wick’ being answered by the ‘too-whoo’ of the male.
You’ve just got to love wildlife’s utter randomness, haven’t you?

Tawny Owl Mike Bright

Tawny Owl by Mike Bright

A View of the Bay (week 5)

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.So, what a week of wildlife fun it’s been…enough to keep me wildlife watching for hours.

Andy Dolphin Watch (Nov 2019)

Greetings o viewers of the bay! Perhaps a little quieter this week in New Quay with some sporadic excitement patched in around a bit of a change in weather….hot and sunny early in the week but changing to quite stormy stuff with north westerlies mid-week creating some spectacular seawatching, more of which in a moment.

First off, a Heron fly-past on Monday brought the usual air attacks from the local crows and gulls…not quite sure why birds ‘mob’ herons but they always do. We don’t get many Herons here so its big, lumbering passage through was quite surprising.

Grey Heron at Cei Bach Beach ©Rosie Hemsley

Less surprising for June, bottlenose dolphin activity was great on Tuesday, several parties in the bay with several animals in each including juveniles and even one I could ID, Snowcap (actually, the only one I can ID!).

Ding ding, all change on Wednesday with a pretty hefty storm meaning yours truly was outside under an umbrella doing a seawatch…worth the wetting too with huge manx shearwater numbers close-in giving great displays of masterful flight plus lots of fulmars and auks. Interestingly I also saw dolphins, really lucky in big seas.

Manx Shearwater © Jay Burk

A bit quieter on Thursday but Friday came roaring back with a brilliant peregrine past my window…most years they breed on the cliffs near the lookout so this one may have been from there. Friday’s highlight though was dolphin-flavoured…several just below my flat in the bay surfing in the waves! They were so close-in I could only just see them over the trees and I had excellent views. I’ve seen several cetacean species surfing over the years but not bottlenose before, a great way to end the week.

Take care, see you next week.

A View of the Bay (week 4)

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.So, what a week of wildlife fun it’s been…enough to keep me wildlife watching for hours.

Andy Dolphin Watching (Nov 19)

Going straight in at number one this week is moths! The entrance stairway to my humble abode is rapidly becoming Ceredigion’s moth epicenter. The largest visitor is the poplar hawk moth, mentioned in last week’s update, which comes and goes. A new arrival has been a pale tussock moth a beautiful mixture of greys and browns with big furry front legs. But the oscar-winner for me is white ermine, named because it looks exactly like white ermine. This species has a little, furry topknot (I think that’s called the thorax) and wings in pale cream with tiny black dots. It’s not a biggie but very eye-catching.

White Ermine

Number two on this week’s wildlife chart has been baby birds! The species list so far is robin, dunnock, magpie and the most obvious due to the noise the blackbird. Young blackbirds at this stage are actually brown (both sexes) like the adult female. Their constant begging squawks are wearyingly persistent…doubly so for Mum & Dad blackbird no doubt.

Last week’s bottlenose dolphin madness has continued unabated with several days where I spotted big groups of dolphins including adults and juveniles as well as lots of leaping.

The calmer weather has meant there has been less bird activity out at sea. No manxies all week and perhaps only two days of gannet action. Interestingly, I saw a gannet make a bit of an error with its dive strategy (pretty unusual for them). It seemed to alter its dive quite late in proceedings, perhaps it spotted an even bigger fish as it plummeted down and so it altered course. Big mistake. It wasn’t quite a belly flop but very nearly…

Northern Gannet © Sarah Perry

So finally to bat news…the news is, there is no news sadly. I’ve tried my new bat detector and it works really well but I’ve had no bat volunteers to try it out on. I’ll keep trying and let you know when I’m successful.

Until next time!

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