Author: Lyndsey Maiden

Teifi Marshes Emergency Hide Appeal

Burnt Hide and Nia Stephens

Today (5/3/2015) our Curlew Hide at Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve has been burnt to the ground. Please donate now to raise money to build better, more secure hides on the reserve – details at bottom of this post on how to donate

Over the last few days (5th March 2015) Teifi Marshes has been serious victim of vandalism, starting with some minor damage to the boardwalks and resulting in a serious fire that has destroyed a hide which is popular with local people who are interested in their local wildlife.

Burnt Hide and Nia Stephens

Burnt Hide and Nia Stephens

This is not the first time vandalism has happened on the reserve, in fact it’s the third time this year. The scale of the damage and lack of care is another indicator of how disengaged people are from what happens at Teifi Marshes.

As a charity when things like this happen, time and money have to be diverted from the important nature conservation work to repairing the damage.

It is key for all people to experience wildlife, even the people who destroyed the hide, Nia Stephens the officer responsible for the site said

“We were very sad to see the state of the reserve this morning, it’s quite shocking to see the damage that has been done. I would like to meet the people who have done this damage and show them the effect it has on other local people who do enjoy the wildlife. I honestly believe that if they got to experience the incredible wildlife they would come to love it too and would not damage these important local resources.

I am now inviting anyone who has committed acts of vandalism on the reserve to come along to our events. Please see why what we are doing here is so important for you.”

Please make a donation

On-Line

Click on the link below to make a secure payment online using your credit or debit card.

By Telephone

We can accept credit cards over the telephone – just phone our office in Tondu on 01656 724100 quoting the Teifi Marshes Appeal and ask for the Membersip Department.

By Post

We are happy to accept cheques, postal orders or CAF card payments through the post. Please download the Donation Form – make a note that this is the Teifi Marshes Hide Appeal and send it with your donation to:

Membership Department, Freepost RRJG-XCUZ-ZUHU, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, The Nature Centre, Tondu, Bridgend, CF32 0EH

My Life Saver

My-Wild-Life - postcard image

The world became a dark and difficult place for Wendy James when her teenage son, Aled, committed suicide. What helped Wendy find some kind of peace was getting more involved with her local bird ringing group at Teifi Marshes and getting intimately involved with its wildlife.

My-Wild-Life - postcard image“The therapy of being close to nature, of holding the birds and feeling like you are part of something bigger and important helped me find some comfort. Knowing that Aled loved wildlife and being outdoors helped me be somehow closer to him again when I was out there in the early morning.

I have found a place where I can laugh again at the wonderful memories of my talented and humorous son whilst I work with the (thousands of) birds that breed and migrate through this beautiful nature reserve. Sharing my knowledge with visitors and volunteers gives a rewarding sense of purpose again”

Being close to wildlife can help us all find some inner peace, it is a dose of natural therapy that we should all enjoy.

How has wildlife inspired you? Tell your story – contact Lyndsey or Gina – l.maiden@Welshwildlife.org or g.gavigan@Welshwildlife.org

 

Hedgerows and Service Trees

Snowdrops at Llandyfeisant churchyard

The regular Carmarthenshire work party has spent most of the volunteer days since Christmas burning brash that has been left from the hedgelaying contractor at Carmel National Nature Reserve. This has been a slow task, exacerbated by a need to protect the species rich grassland at Carmel.

Burning brash at Carmel

Burning brash at Carmel

We have been burning the brash on metal sheets, keeping the fire small and having as few a burn sites as possible. This sensitive approach complements our on going strategy of managing the semi improved meadows. With each year the annual hay cut depletes soil nutrient levels, making the grasslands more herb rich. It has therefore been important to catch as much ash as possible from the burnt brash, and remove it from the hay meadows.

Before Christmas we had a tree surgeon take back the edge of the woodland that abutted the west side of the A476 at Carmel. A hazardous tree inspection had shown that a significant proportion of the trees were showing disease and decay, so a decision was made to create a buffer zone next to the road.

Removing hazardous trees next to A476

Removing hazardous trees next to A476

Whilst this looks stark and ugly at the moment, it should benefit from more light and a burst of rejuvenation come spring; ultimately creating a safer road and a nice graded edge to the woodland. This work was paid for by Grantscape.

The volunteers have also spent a couple of days scrub clearing at Rhos Cefn Bryn. This work is necessary to maintain the extent and condition of the marshy grassland. Marshy grassland is an important habitat in its own right; and at Rhos Cefn Bryn it has added value, being the home to the threatened marsh fritillary butterfly.

As part of our ongoing plan to encourage the wild service tree at Poor Man’s Wood/Gallt y Tlodion to sucker, we have been doing some halo pruning around the 2 remaining trees. Some larger trees slightly downslope and to the south of the wild service trees have been coppiced, as has the understory in the immediate vicinity of the trees. We hope the new light and space this has provided will promote young wild service trees to grow and establish.

Snowdrops at Llandyfeisant churchyard

Snowdrops at Llandyfeisant churchyard

Oh and the snowdrops are out in Castle Woods’ Llandyfeisant Churchyard 

 

Mothering Sunday at the Welsh Wildlife Centre

Glasshouse Cafe Welsh Wildlife Centre

Every mom deserves a treat of some sort on Mothers’ Day and lunch at the Welsh Wildlife Centre really can’t be beaten. The Glasshouse Cafe makes all its own food, with freshly made breads and cakes to make your mouth water.

Glasshouse Cafe Welsh Wildlife Centre

Glasshouse Cafe chocolate tart

For the 15th March we have a gorgeous menu – but don’t forget you will need to book call 01239 621600 OR email m.hodgson@welshwildlife.org – Booking essential with menu choices needed by 6 March.

Starters

  • Tender confit of locally reared free range duck leg served with a gently spiced
  • Pembrokeshire plum compote and a fresh leaf salad
  • Leek, goats cheese & hazelnut tartlets served on dressed leaves with a Teifi marshes
    crab-apple and chilli drizzle (v)

Main Courses

  • A roulade of chicken breast & asparagus with a white wine and asparagus cream sauce
  • Parsnip & cashew nut croquettes with a roasted tomato & herb coulis (v)
  • Pork steaks cooked in a Gwynt y Ddraig cider & wholegrain mustard sauce
    All served with the chef’s selection of vegetables

Puddings

  • A marbled cheesecake of plain, milk and white chocolate with toffee sauce
    Henry Hedgehog Door Stop - Available at the Welsh Wildlife Centre Gift Shop

    Henry Hedgehog Door Stop – Available at the Welsh Wildlife Centre Gift Shop

  • Plum and almond tart served with amaretto cream

Mother’s Day Gifts at the Welsh Wildlife Centre Gift Shop

If you are looking for the perfect gift for your Mum this Mother’s Day, then the Welsh Wildlife Centre’s Gift Shop is crammed full of excellent ideas, such as Henry Hedgehog, the cute and cuddly door stop!

Other perfect products for Mother’s Day include our range of wildlife scarves, artistic mugs designed by Marjolein Bastin and foxy umbrellas and manicure sets!

More winter work in Ceredigion

Volunteers at Coed Maidie B Goddard

Our winter work programme continues with more work in our woodlands and a few other tasks too.

We continued with and finished the coupe on the steep slopes of Coed Simdde Lwyd. It’s a hard but satisfying job. This one seems to be on a particularly steep section and took longer than usual to complete. It will allow more light down to the woodland floor and hopefully encourage new saplings to grow.

We’ve also continued our general woodland thinning in Coed Maidie B Goddard and cleared scrub along a field edge. There were a few overhanging trees and branches that needed our attention too.

Volunteers at Coed Maidie B Goddard

Volunteers at Coed Maidie B Goddard

The roadside trees at Rhos Glandenys had grown rather a lot and were starting to impede on the road and upset the locals so we spent a few days in high vis jackets cutting them right back and stacking the cuttings on the reserve. We also cut back some of the meadow edge willows and a broken branch near the entrance gate. There was a beautiful double rainbow on the first day when the sun came out between the sleet, hail and downpours.

At Cwm Clettwr we halo thinned some more of the birch and willow around the young oaks, hazels and rowans that are growing in the regenerating areas in the upper half of the reserve. We have tried a new technique for the reserve in some of the area where there is little understorey- trees are cut higher than usual, left with a small hinge and allowed to lay across the open spaces to create more aerial pathways within the woodland whilst still allowing more light to the favoured trees.

Where possible these trees overlap creating a web across the woodland which should benefit the dormice. Some of these may re-shoot and others will form dead hedge corridors for mammal movements. Hopefully a more natural under-storey will also develop benefiting the woodland as a whole.

A day was also spent clearing the birch regeneration from the healthy outcrop to preserve the habitat mosaic. The heather is almost waist high so it’s tough going!

We also cleared a lot more fallen trees along the back fence-line in Coed Penglanowen and one that had fallen across the path.

We will be continuing with this kind of work for a few more weeks before we move onto spring tasks.
Thank you very much to everyone who has helped this month. If you would like to volunteer with us in Ceredigion there are work parties on a Wednesday and Thursday out on the reserves, year round, contact Em on 07980932332 or e.foot@welshwildlife.org or to find out more about Ceredigion reserves

Skomer Island 5

Skomer's bluebells

Pack Your Sense of Adventure and get ready for the Skomer Island 5 experience.

Stay on Skomer overnight and witness magnificent sunsets

There is so much to see and do on the amazing Skomer Island, that we want to ensure that you make the most of your day trip or overnight stay.

The Skomer Island 5 is a fantastic ‘Top 5’ campaign featuring amazing wildlife, activities, events, experiences not to be missed throughout 2015!

Here’s a sneak peak of what’s on offer…

1

Skomer Island 5 – Wildlife Highlights

1. Manx Shearwaters

2. Atlantic Grey Seals

3. Puffins

4. Harbour Porpoise

5. Fulmar

2

Skomer Island 5 – Events

1. Shearwater Week

2. History walks in September

3. Guided Birdwatching Weekends

4. August Island Adventures

5. Exclusive Access Monday Walks

3

Skomer Island 5 – Activities

1. Photography

2. Wildlife Watching

3. Family Trails

4. Exploring the island paths & history

5. Watching sun set over the sea

4

Skomer Island 5 – Experiences

1. Island life

2. Seal Singing on North Haven beach

3. Wildlife log with island staff

4. Wild night life with Manx Shearwaters

5. Witness Puffins returning to the island with beaks full of sand eels

5

Skomer Island 5 – Stay and Unwind

1. Find your perfect island spot and get lost in a book

2. Meet new friends

3. Watch the amazing sunset from the Garland Stone

4. Re-connect with the wonder of nature at day or night

5. Educate your mind by learning about the island’s wildlife and history. Feed your soul with breath-taking views and memorable wildlife experiences

For further information regarding this campaign, experiences or events please watch our Skomer Island events page.

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David Davies

David Davies by Em Foot

We were very sad to hear recently of the sudden loss of David Davies of Aberystwyth, a Trust stalwart in so many areas of our conservation work.

David Davies by Em Foot

David Davies by Em Foot

David was perhaps a relative newcomer to the Trust, first getting actively involved with us as a volunteer in 2005, a result of an appeal for help on our reserves as part of the HLF project in Ceredigion. However, he rapidly became involved in many different areas of our work, and soon took root as a key member of the Ceredigion team.

His involvement was built upon a lifetime’s interest in the natural environment. Anyone speaking to David soon became aware of his interest in wildlife and his love of fishing, and his huge knowledge of issues related to the management of our rivers and seas.

David became an active voluntary warden at Llyn Eiddwen, regularly contributing wildlife records and reserve monitoring data. He was also a regular on reserve workparties for many years, often bringing his professional skills as a civil engineer to the task in hand.

His knowledge and enthusiasm for design and construction assisted us with everything from building timber storage and protective cladding for tools in Trust vehicles, to novel designs for pond excavations, and the installation of reserves infrastructure like gates and fences.

David also served as a member of our North Ceredigion committee for a number of years and was a familiar face at talks and events in Aberystwyth, where he will be greatly missed by many.

David was a gentle, kind and loyal volunteer. For me, he was a great supporter during my years in Ceredigion, and thereafter to others still active in the county. During a trip to the Dyfi coast he once tried to teach me to dig for lugworm; I’m afraid I was an abject failure and the worms would insist on escaping me- but his patience was endless, and I learned a huge amount from him that day. He was truly in his element, surrounded by wild landscapes and the sea.

He will be greatly missed by all, and our thoughts and sympathy are with his family.

Lizzie Wilberforce
03 February 2015

The Wood Wide Web

Mycelea under upturned log by TheAlphaWolf

If you have ever walked into a deep dark wood and had the feeling that everything is connected, that the trees are communicating with each other you will be relieved to know that its not just your imagination! Research has shown that plants use fungi as we use the internet, to communicate and share resources. 90% of plants have a mutually beneficial relationship with fungi, something known as a ‘Mycorrhizal’ relationship.

Mycelea under upturned log by TheAlphaWolf

Mycelea under upturned log by TheAlphaWolf

To get your head around this you need to forget the mushrooms on the forest floor, they are just the fruiting body of the fungus. The actual organism consists of a sometimes massive network of underground fibres (known as mycelia) and its these that plants use to communicate and share resources. But just as we have ‘cybercrime’ so does the woodland with some plants using fungi to steal from each other!

Next time you are walking through a woodland remember that beneath your feet the trees really are talking to each other using their very own ‘Wood Wide Web’

Mike Bright – Bridgend Group

An unexpected visitor

Common dolphins by Eleanor Stone

Since early January the marine team at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) have been monitoring an unusual occurrence in New Quay Bay.

The unusual occurrence being the presence of a dolphin! Yes a dolphin, what’s so unusual about a dolphin in New Quay you might ask – well this animal is not a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the species of dolphin that we would normally expect to see in New Quay, but an entirely different species, a short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) that we have affectionately named “Daily”, due to its apparently daily occurrence in the waters here.

Common dolphins by Eleanor Stone

Common dolphins by Eleanor Stone

Although short-beaked common dolphins are not unusual in their occurrence in the Irish Sea, it is unusual to see these animals in the shallow inshore waters of Cardigan Bay and even more unusual to spot this species of dolphin in the waters around New Quay.

On a couple of occasions over the last few years we have recorded the presence of common dolphins off New Quay headland, a passing occurrence during one of our summer shore-based surveys, as well as recording a group of common dolphins further out into Cardigan Bay during one of our research surveys.

These inshore sightings of common dolphins during the summer are unusual to say the least and the presence of a common dolphin in the waters off New Quay during the winter is even more unusual.

Common dolphins recorded off the west coast of Wales are more frequently sighted during the summer months, found in deeper waters, such as those found off the Pembrokeshire coast. They are occasionally sighted from the WTSWW islands of Skomer and Skokholm and further offshore out into the Irish Sea and out towards the Celtic deep, a deep stretch of water between Wales and Southern Ireland.

Common dolphins generally prefer deep water and are a gregarious species of dolphin, often found in large groups, sometimes reaching thousands in just one area. Groups this large usually comprise of several subgroups (20-30 animals) all coming together where ideal feeding opportunities occur. They are opportunistic feeders and are known to feed on a variety of fish species including pelagic schooling fish such as mackerel, herring and sprat.

Bottlenose dolphin by Harry Hogg

Bottlenose dolphin by Harry Hogg

Common dolphins (see photo) are very different in their appearance to that of the regularly sighted Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphins (see photo) and are much smaller than bottlenose dolphins. Adult common dolphins reach lengths of about two metres, whilst an adult bottlenose dolphin reaches up to 4 metres in length. They are fast moving and streamlined in their shape and have a beautiful, distinct hourglass pattern of white, grey and yellow on their sides

The first known reports of the animal in New Quay are from a member of the local community whom spotted the animal on the 28th December 2014; it appears the animal has remained in the area ever since and we have been documenting its occurrence here.

We have carried out some background research and have not found any well-documented evidence of other occurrences of solitary short-beaked common dolphins, that have stayed in one particular area for extended periods of time around the UK.

We are not sure why the animal is here, or how long it will remain in the area, but ironically whilst it is here, we are lucky enough to be able to spot it from both our office windows and our visitor centre (which will be opening at Easter) so we are able to continue to keep an eye on its occurrence and document its presence in the area.

So far we have been lucky enough to watch it interacting with large barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo) as well as performing the occasional leap! Since its arrival, we’ve had at least one known visit into New Quay bay from a group of bottlenose dolphins, perhaps lucky enough for the common dolphin there were no interactions between the two species and the bottlenose did not stay around for long. However, if it stays in the area for much longer there will almost inevitably be an interaction between the two species, to what extend and what the outcome of that interaction will be is entirely unknown.

As the spring and summer draw closer we hope that the animal makes its way offshore into deeper waters where it would normally be found, away from any potential disturbance and where it will find other common dolphins to join up with.

Sarah Perry, WTSWW Living Seas Science Officer

So it’s back to work we go

The Log

This (rather inevitably) takes the form of a fallen tree over the path, a fair amount of litter to remove and a missing log.

The fallen tree thing I think we have down to a fine art, we quickly fall into the well-practiced rhythm of lop, chop, shift and stack clearing the path with the grace of an admittedly rather rusty machine.

The litter was collected (three bags full) everyone successfully dodging the hazard of fermenting slug juice.

Now, to solve the mystery of the missing log we have to go back a year when we lost one of our large Beech trees which fell across the river which, after various trials and tribulations (these are still highly classified), left a large section of trunk on the river bank.

This log delighted in spending most of its time exuding the promise of defiant steadfastness and a general attitude of the smug “I shall not be moved” bordering on the rather belligerent “I ain’t going nowhere mate!” to all who were in any way connected to the reserve (including beefy men with big chainsaws).

However, nobody apparently told the River Taf Fechan this, so it was rather a shock to find this erstwhile stubbornly grounded log at least 500m downstream just short of our bridge one Friday morning looking like it had hit everything on the way down.

Maybe it was a spirited but ultimately doomed attempt to invent the game of extreme pooh sticks or it was just the pulse of snow melt off the mountains that shifted it who knows?

Here’s a Taf Fechan top tip though: never believe a Beech log!

Graham Watkeys, Taf Fechan Volunteer Warden

Sexy habitat piles

Hazel coppicing

A day of coppicing at Taf Fechan involved the creation of the new sport of competitive habitat piling although the rules have yet to be properly codified technical points were awarded for structural integrity and internal density while artistic points rested on general sexiness.

My team’s habitat pile was so damn sexy it attracted two Wrens and a Robin in under half an hour which I think makes us the winners (the other piles only being in my opinion only moderately sexy).

A by-product of all this sporty endeavour was the much needed regeneration of a patch of over mature Hazel wood and the opening of a path which had not been cleared for some years thus generating a very good view of the reserve and 13 bags of assorted rubbish (now it’s not often that litter sends you into a haze of nostalgia but finding a “fun sized” can of diet cola with the grand price of 9p proudly proclaimed on the side with a use by date sometime in the very early nineties brought on some misty eyed “I remember when…” recollections).

The Primroses were already growing away underfoot and I’m looking forward to seeing what else turns up now the canopy has been thinned.

The normalcy of emptiness

The capacity of the human race to generate a sense of sublime normalcy is unlimited and rather frightening. As another 30+ British insects are added to the red list of endangered species threatened with extinction the countryside takes another step to becoming nothing more than a painted backdrop lacking the diversity of colour, sound and movement that it should have, a mere landscape photograph which will still be beautiful, but only in the purest coldest aesthetic sense when turning a corner just presents the same flat panorama at a slightly different angle.

Most of these species may only be leaf beetles, all of them measured in millimetres, spending their time high in a tree or under leaves at your feet, you may go your entire life and never see them but the fact is they are (at the moment) still there. You could turn that same corner and suddenly be aware of one climbing your sleeve after brushing that shrub, a little speck of determined marching green making its way still as unaware of you as you were of it, instantly adding depth, colour and life to that beautiful landscape photo.

Scorpion fly by G Watkeys

Scorpion fly by G Watkeys

Lose these insects and you begin to lose the guts of the world, the pattern and form of the world is immeasurably enfeebled when there is nothing to surprise and delight.

The truly frightening bit is how quickly this state of affairs will become normal and it is so very difficult to fight normal. Normal is the way things should be isn’t it? Normal is well, normal. Soon it will be normal to have no dawn chorus, no frogspawn, no drumming woodpeckers and no little iridescent green beetles.

I hope that my writing about the things I see in Taf Fechan (and I have just seen my 300th species on the reserve since I became a volunteer warden) will help in a small way to fight off that sense of the normalcy of emptiness that is slowly but inexorably creeping up on the world.

Graham Watkeys, Volunteer Reserve Warden for Taf Fechan