Author: Lorna Baggett

Unknown Wales Talks Announced

Unknown Wales brings together people from all walks of life to celebrate and support the work of individuals and organisations who strive to protect our amazing Welsh wildlife.

This event allows some of the lesser known species and projects to be discussed and explored and provides an opportunity to learn more about how you can get involved. This year sees a range of topics from Glutinous snails to the Gwent levels, and will bring to light some of the amazing creatures we are lucky enough to have in Wales. Below is the programme of talks for the day:

If you haven’t been before, Unknown Wales takes place at the National Museum Wales in Cardiff, and it starts at 10am when you are welcomed with a tea or coffee on arrival. There are then 7 talks throughout the day and the event finishes around 3:30pm. Unknown Wales is admission free, although we do rely on donations to be able to put on this interesting and enjoyable event, so please support us.

Unknown Wales 2018 will take place on Saturday 27th October.

If you’d like to come along, please contact the Wildlife Trust to let us know by telephoning 01656 724100 or emailing info@welshwildlife.org

We hope to see you then!

Unknown Wales 2018

Our popular Unknown Wales event is back for 2018.

On Saturday 27th October 2018 you will be treated to another fantastic range of interesting talks about Wale’s lesser known or underappreciated wildlife.

This year’s talks will soon be announced so watch this space and don’t forget to save the date!

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Over 200 people attend Unknown Wales

Over 200 people attend Unknown Wales

 

Connecting People and Nature

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales are partnering up with Actif Woods to start an exciting 3 year project in Merthyr Tydfil called ‘Connecting People and Nature’.

With support from Welsh Government’s Rural Development Programme, we are going to be basing activities at 4 Merthyr Tydfil County Borough council owned sites to engage with the local communities of Bedlinog, Vaynor, Bryngoleu and Gellideg.

We will be encouraging local people to access these green spaces with the aim of benefiting the health of the landscape, individuals and the community.

Our aims at the sites are to:

  • Enhance and protect the local biodiversity
  • Increase local skills and create a sense of ownership at the sites – giving people the confidence to get outdoors in their local area
  • Improve community cohesion
  • Improve health and wellbeing

To deliver these aims we will be carrying out a range of activities including:

  • Practical conservation and habitat management works
  • Wildlife surveys and training
  • Crafts and activities such as green woodworking, willow weaving and mindfulness
  • A 12 week programme using woodland activities to improve people’s health

Each site will have a management plan written detailing actions to be taken over the 3 years following the project. In order to safeguard the sites for continued community use in the future we will work towards having the sites designated as Local Nature Reserves. This will give them permanent legal protection as wildlife havens and community spaces.

We are keen to work with the whole of the community with the 4 wards, to ensure that the sites are used effectively for all and as such, we would welcome suggestions from everyone.

We are looking for local volunteers to get involved in conservation work on each of the sites. If you like the sound of activities such as litter picking, scrub clearance, wildlife surveys and building bird boxes, then why not get involved and get in touch.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer on the project please contact Lorna Baggett by email or on 07812063444.

More information about the Connecting People and Nature project can also be found on facebook

 

 

Important Information for Dog Owners at Parc Slip

Lapwing-by-Phil-Bennington.jpg

At Parc Slip Nature Reserve we welcome responsible dog owners.

We want the Nature Reserve to be a place that is safe and enjoyable for all our visitors. As a Nature Reserve, Parc Slip must also, first and foremost, be a refuge for wildlife.

Therefore, we now require dogs to be kept on leads during all times.

There are lots of important reasons for keeping dogs on leads that owners need to be aware of. Here are some of the main issues.

Wildlife
As we are in the breeding season (March—August) it is critical to prevent disturbance to the animals on site. Keeping dogs on leads helps to protect the ground nesting birds, vulnerable wild mammal populations and prevents disturbance to grazing animals. This also ensures the safety of the dogs.

Health
Keeping dogs on leads ensures that the owners are aware of the mess their dogs make and can therefore bag it and bin it.

Dog mess is an unsightly health hazard, and poses a risk to the many families and children who visit Parc Slip, along with the reserve workers who risk blindness if it comes into contact with their eyes. Dog mess is also bad for wildlife as it promotes the growth of weeds and discourages the growth of wildflowers.

Visitor safety
Not everyone is fond of dogs and some have severe phobias. For the comfort and safety of other reserve users it is important that dogs stay on the lead. Small children are especially in danger from loose dogs, ranging from being knocked down by an enthusiastic dog to being bitten or seriously harmed.

Transmitting disease
Keeping dogs on leads prevents dogs from swimming in the ponds on the reserve, which would otherwise cause disturbance to the wildlife and can also aid transferal of harmful pond plants or amphibian diseases between ponds.

Our nature reserves are managed for the benefit of wildlife. By acting responsibly during your visit and encouraging other visitors to do the same, you can help local wildlife thrive for future generations to enjoy.

Thank you for your cooperation.
To report any issues you witness during your visit please call 01656 724100

The Parc Slip Scrapes, 3 years on…

It has been 3 years since the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales teamed up with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to create a new wetland habitat at Parc Slip Nature Reserve.

In this exciting project we transformed over 3ha of improved agricultural field into a series of freshwater scrapes, to provide habitat for many species including wading birds, amphibians, invertebrates and Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies).

Freshwater scrapes are a unique and scarce kind of wetland, supporting some species of wildlife which depend entirely on this type of habitat for survival. Scrapes act as temporary pools, which can fill up in the rainy months, and dry out into smaller pools and puddles in the summer.

Because the pools are shallow, they are able to both warm up and cool down quickly, causing high levels of productivity in the water and providing plenty of food for invertebrates. The temporary nature of the scrapes means they will not be inhabited by fish; which need at least 2ft of water to survive, reducing the predation risk to the early life stages of Odonata and amphibian species.

Muddy Scrapes creation at Parc Slip

Muddy scrapes creation at Parc Slip

In the winter of 2013 NRW dug 15 scrapes of varying size and depth, and created banks around the edges of the field. We seeded the banks with wildflowers, added a shingle shoreline to some of the scrapes and built the Mary Gillham hide.

Since then however, with the exception of digging  a few smaller scrapes by hand and creating the Strachan hide, we have left the habitat fairly well alone, to let natural succession take place and for the vegetation to arrive by natural means.

This is a really interesting process. The Scrapes started as holes in the earth, filled with water, very few nutrients and little aquatic life. But as time has gone on the scrapes have naturally accumulated nutrients through the process of succession; where the addition of any materials to the pond and the subsequent decay of the materials, adds nutrients, which in turn stimulates the growth of aquatic life.

Seeds, and small pieces of pond weed and plants have been introduced by birds and visiting animals, which act as ‘pond pioneers’. Submergent vegetation has developed along with emergent vegetation around the edges of the pond, which provides shade, food and habitat within the scrapes. Planktonic algae feed zooplankton, which in turn provide food for the aquatic invertebrates and animals.

By now the scrapes habitat has had 3 years to establish. The pools have become vegetated with bulrush, yellow flag iris and smaller aquatic plants, and the bare earth has been covered with grasses, soft rush and wetland wildflowers like ragged robin.

Scrapes 2016

Scrapes 2016

The field has already been home to a variety of bird species, including Little ringed plover, which nested amongst the shingle and raised 3 chicks there. The site has also been visited by Lapwings, Curlew, Common sandpiper, Greenshank, and Sand martin. Dragonfly and damselfly species have been seen in abundance whisking over the surface of the pools and scrapes, including southern hawker, emperor, and golden ringed dragonfly. We have also come across frogs, toads, great crested newts, grass snakes and bank voles in the field.

There is still much to be learnt about our new habitat. We have yet to do a full survey of the aquatic freshwater invertebrates in the scrapes, and this may tell us more about the stage of their development.

It is very exciting however, to see that we have already encouraged so much wildlife to move in and inhabit a space that was previously inhospitable for wildlife.

Unknown Wales 2016 – The Biggest Yet!

On Saturday 8th October the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and the National Museum of Wales once again held ‘Unknown Wales’, a day of celebrating lesser known wildlife through a series of talks to showcase the variety of wildlife found in Wales. This was the 6th annual Unknown Wales and our most well attended, with over 230 people joining us to learn about a variety of wildlife; from limpets to pine martens.

The Conference started early this year, with the speakers and organisers being interviewed on BBC Radio Wales ‘Science Cafe’. Listen again here.

The day kicked off with a brilliant talk from Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru’s engagement officer, who told us what the gardens of Wales have shown us over the past 20 years about our bird populations. Kelvin was keen to stress the importance of having a wildlife friendly garden, to provide lots of food and shelter for birds.

The next talk, by John Archer-Thomson, introduced us to his fascinating research on limpets and their response to the Sea Empress oil spill in Pembrokeshire. John explained that after 30 years of studying the limpet population, there were variations in the population that he could not have predicted, and which made him redefine what a ‘normal’ population might be.

After a short break, Lynne Boddy from Cardiff University gave an enlightening talk on the importance of fungi for the function of planet Earth. Lynne highlighted the vital roles of fungi in the environment, including their importance as nutrient recyclers, and how over 80 percent of plants are dependent on fungi to function.

Rob Parry, conservation manager at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, then gave a presentation on a proposed project. Rob revealed how Marsh Fritillary butterflies in the Upper Ely landscape have been steadily declining for at least 20 years, and have now disappeared from large areas of their former range. The project planned to reinforce the Upper Ely population of Marsh Fritillary butterflies, but unfortunately has been unable to proceed because the application for a licence to carry out the work was denied. Rob explained why the project is crucial for the Marsh Fritillary in Wales, and why he believes that urgent action is now needed.

After lunch, Jenny MacPherson from the Vincent Wildlife Trust gave a talk on the Pine marten recovery project in Wales, which has been the first large scale carnivore restoration project in the UK. Jenny explained how 20 pine martens were captured from healthy populations in Scotland, and were then released in the large woodlands of mid-Wales. We were delighted that Jenny included video footage of Pine martens exploring and having fun in their new homes!

We then had a double act, with Mike Wilson and Liam Olds, both from the National Museum Wales, telling us about their work surveying the invertebrates of coal tips around South Wales. Colliery spoil tips are generally thought of as barren sites devoid of wildlife, but this has proved untrue. Liam and Mike revealed many of the species that they have found across South Wales are of conservation interest, and explained that colliery spoils are growing in importance as the landscape around these untouched areas is developing.

Our keynote speaker for the day was Mike Benton from the University of Bristol, talking about Dracoraptor; the new dinosaur found in South Wales, and what it has taught us about the early establishment of the Dinosaurs. Mike explained the theories on how dinosaurs came to dominate planet Earth, and gave an insight into how current research indicates that mass extinctions were important.

Thanks to all the speakers for a brilliant day of engaging presentations, and to the generous patron who has helped support the conference. We hope to continue Unknown Wales into the future, and to keep it as a free event so that everyone is able to learn about the wildlife and conservation work in Wales that doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.

If you would like to support the work of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales please visit our membership page here. If you were at the Unknown Wales event and would like to make a donation, or would like to provide feedback on the day, please email Lorna.

We look forward to seeing you at Unknown Wales 2017.

Could you become a Lapwing Champion?

The Lapwing is an iconic farmland bird which has undergone drastic declines in populations as a result of loss of breeding habitat. Today the lapwing is a UK and Wales priority species requiring urgent positive action.

Over the next few months, we will be working hard to reverse the decline at Parc Slip Nature Reserve, through a series of habitat creation and management projects.

These will include the creation of wetland scrapes and cryptic nesting sites, to the appropriate management of wetlands, meadows and arable fields. In addition to the practical habitat management and creation, the project will also undertake research and monitoring on the reserve and in the wider landscape to better understand and conserve the species in Bridgend.

We are looking for Lapwing Champions to help us with this project.

By helping the Wildlife Trust with this project, you will gain:

•Practical experience of habitat management, including scrub clearance and scrape creation.
•Official certificates presented to Lapwing Champions who complete more than five work parties.
•Enjoyable days working with like minded people to help conserve the lapwing.

If you would like to help us with this project, send Lorna an email to register as a volunteer or come along to our next Lapwing Conservation Day.

All the dates for Lapwing Conservation Days can be found on our events page here.

We look forward to seeing you out on the reserve with us soon!

Sponsor a Lapwing Lookalike

Lapwing Lookalikes

The Lapwing is an iconic farmland bird which has undergone drastic declines in recent decades. With the help of our Lapwing Champion volunteers, we have been working hard to create and manage Lapwing habitat at our Parc Slip nature reserve, including:

• Reduced scrub from the boundary of our Lapwing field to reduce perches for aerial predators
• Introduced Highland Cattle to graze the fields to the right height for Lapwing
• Created a series of pools and scrapes to provide feeding habitat for Lapwing
• Provided shingle banks as cryptic sites for nesting
• Installed electric fence to deter predators from entering the Lapwing field

Now that we have prepared the habitat for the Lapwings, we are hoping to encourage as many Lapwings as possible to the reserve to breed. To do this we will be using our new Lapwing Lookalikes.

Lapwing Lookalikes are model Lapwing which will hopefully attract the real birds to the habitat here at Parc Slip. When Lapwings are flying over the nature reserve, they will spot the Lapwing Lookalikes already in the fields, which will show them that Parc Slip has the habitat requirements they need.

Hopefully then the Lapwings will join our flock of Lookalikes and will be able to feed, breed and raise their chicks in the safety of the Nature Reserve.

To enable as many people as possible to enjoy the sight of Lapwings in the Lapwing field at Parc Slip, we are currently fundraising towards the cost of fixing the roof of our Northern Wetlands hide.

To help raise funds for the hide roof, WTSWW are offering you the unique opportunity to sponsor a Lapwing Lookalike.

With a minimum donation of £20 you could sponsor your own limited edition Lapwing Lookalike to receive:
• A sponsorship certificate.
• A picture of your Lapwing Lookalike, ringed with your unique I.D. number.
• A map of Parc Slip showing your Lapwing Lookalike’s specific location so you can spot it out in the field when visiting.

All donations are appreciated and by sponsoring a Lapwing Lookalike you will not only be helping us to fix our hide, but most importantly you’ll be helping to encourage Lapwing into Parc Slip, where they will have a chance to raise their young successfully and thrive once more.

Thank you for your support and if you are able to sponsor a Lapwing Lookalike, please ring 01656 724100 or email l.baggett@welshwildlife.org.

This project has been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Peoples Postcode Lottery

Find out more about playing the People’s Postcode Lottery in this video

Help a Hedgehog

Hedgehog
Hedgehog

Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are unusual-looking and secretive creatures, which are a real treat to see in Britain.

There is simply nothing else like them.

Unfortunately Hedgehogs are becoming rarer to see as their numbers are declining in the UK. Habitat loss, a decline in food resources and a loss of connectivity in the landscape are all thought to be reasons why Hedgehogs are disappearing.

As autumn is upon us, it is time to start thinking from the point of view of a Hedgehog. To a Hedgehog, a big dry pile of wood looks like an ideal place to shelter, and this is why we need to be extra careful when creating and lighting our bonfires this bonfire night.

Wild-About-Gardens-WeekYou can help a Hedgehog by building your bonfire as close to the night you light it as possible, giving less time for Hedgehogs to find it and move in.
To ensure that no Hedgehogs are hidden in your bonfire, take the pile apart and thoroughly search it for Hedgehogs, or move the bonfire pile on the night you light it.

You could even build a Hedgehog hibernacula somewhere else in your garden to draw the Hedgehogs away from your bonfire pile. These can be made from leaves, grass cuttings or spare logs.

If you do find a Hedgehog in your wood pile, move it to your Hedgehog hibernacula or to a safe, dry place somewhere away from the bonfire.

Feel inspired to help a Hedgehog?

You can make your garden Hedgehog-friendly by creating spaces and food for them.

  • Hedgehogs need to roam great distances to search for food, mates and nesting sites. So by getting together with your neighbours and creating a hole in or under your garden fence (approximately 13cm x 13cm) you can connect your gardens to create a ‘Hedgehog highway’.
  • Growing a variety of plants will attract plenty of natural Hedgehog food such beetles, worms, slugs and snails.

CountrywideWe had a fantastic half term activity with children at Parc Slip Nature reserve making hedgehog homes which was supported by Countrywide Stores.

To learn more about how you can garden for wildlife and Hedgehogs go to the Wild About Gardens Week website.