Author: Lyndsey Maiden

Shear brilliance for Pembrokeshire’s islands!

Manx-Shearwater---Dave-Boyle
Manx-Shearwater---Dave-Boyle

Manx Shearwater by Dave Boyle

Three small islands off the coast of Pembrokeshire are flying high this month, as the latest seabird census results indicate that they are now home to more than 50 per cent of the world’s entire Manx shearwater population.

It’s estimated that nearly a million breeding Manx shearwater adults reside on Skomer, Skokholm and Middleholm based on the monitoring work by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW), the National Trust and the University of Oxford and University of Gloucestershire.

The survey was part of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s Seabirds Count census, and took place in June 2018.

It required a careful approach as Manx shearwaters nest in burrows, meaning the team had to watch their footing to ensure minimum disturbance to the fragile nests.

The monitoring work involved playing the seabird’s social call, which had been pre-recorded on an audio device, into a sample of burrows across the three islands. If a bird responded to the call then the burrow was recorded as active as part of the survey.

The census finished and on the boat back to Skomer by Ed Stubbings

The census finished and on the boat back to Skomer by Ed Stubbings

“It was a privilege to be part of the team who, by using a survey method which encouraged a higher proportion of nesting birds to make themselves known than ever before, helped to produce our best estimate yet of how many pairs of this remarkable seabird breed on these islands,” enthused Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle, wardens on WTSWW’s Skokholm Island.

Results suggest that there are nearly half-a-million breeding pairs in total across the internationally-important islands, with 89,000 on WTSWW’s Skokholm Island, 350,000 on WTSWW’s Skomer Island and 16,000 on Middleholm.

Speaking about the overall findings, the University of Gloucestershire’s Matt Wood, who helped coordinate the census, said: “Seabirds are in such trouble globally so this is great news internationally, not just in Wales – nearly a million breeding adults on these three small islands, and if you include the teenagers hanging around nearby and the chicks in their burrows in August you can almost double that number.

“That’s well over half the entire world’s population of Manx shearwaters, and it looks like they’re increasing steadily here.”

For the National Trust, the data is especially exciting for Middleholm as area ranger James Roden explained: “The 2018 census on Middleholm was the first time in 20 years that Manx shearwaters have been recorded on the tiny island, and it’s great to see that the population is much larger than we first thought.

“We hope to carry on working closely with the Wildlife Trust on more monitoring projects in the future, as well as towards the continued conservation work on Middleholm.”

The view across to Skomer Island from the top of Middleholm by James Roden

The view across to Skomer Island from the top of Middleholm by James Roden

 

The monitoring work was made possible through funding support from Natural Resources Wales, The Seabird Group, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and National Trust.

WTSWW Publications and Reports 2018

Conservation Team

Conservation Team Report 17-18  (4 Mb) A report summarising the work of the conservation staff during the financial year.

Islands

Skokholm Annual Report 2018 (6Mb)

Skomer Seabird Report 2018 (1Mb)

Skomer Island Bird Report 2018 (4.2 Mb)

Skomer Island Annual Report 2018 (1 Mb)

Skomer Seal Report 2018 (7.16 Mb)

Skokholm Seabird Report 2018 (6.5 Mb)

Annual surveillance of Chough 2018 Skomer & Skokholm Islands SPA (0.59 Mb)

Fairweather, D (2018) Oystercatcher Productivity on Skomer 2018

Ames, E (2018) Manx Shearwater Plastic Ingestion Study

Sleight, H (2018) The nutrient of soils on Skomer Island

Lloyd, T (2018) Plastic Entanglement in the Seals of Skomer Island

Projects and reports

West Glamorgan’s Wild Woodlands 2015-2018

Badger Vaccination report Castle Woods 2018

 

Academic Papers relating to WTSWW’s work or nature reserves

Amker-Nillsen, T et al (2018) Fit is fat: winter body mass of Atlantic Puffins Fratercula arctica. Bird Study 65(4) pp 451-457. Click to view.

Birkhead, TR et al (2018) The pyriform egg of the Common Murre (Uria aalge) is more stable on sloping surfaces. The Auk: Ornithological Advances 135(4) pp. 1020–1032. Click to view.

Dunn, M et al (2018) Public attitudes towards “pest” management: Perceptions on squirrel management strategies in the UK. Biological Conservation 222 pp 52-63. Click to view.

Dunning, J et al (2018) Photoluminescence in the bill of the Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica. Bird Study 65(4) pp 570-573. Click to view.

Padget, O et al (2018) In Situ Clock Shift Reveals that the Sun Compass Contributes to Orientation in a Pelagic Seabird. Current Biology 28(2) pp 275-279. Click to view.

Riordan, J & Birkhead, T (2018) Changes in the diet composition of Common Guillemot Uria aalge chicks on Skomer Island, Wales, between 1973 and 2017. IBIS 160(2) pp 470-474. Click to view.

Rush, GP et al (2018) Can drones count gulls? Minimal disturbance and semiautomated image processing with an unmanned aerial vehicle for colony‐nesting seabirds. Ecology and Evolution 8(24) pp 12322-12334. Click to view.

Shuttleworth, CM et al (2018) Detecting viral infection in red squirrels. The Veterinary Record 184(16) pp507. Click to view.

December- My Wild Garden Year

For the last My Wild Garden Year challenge of 2018, we’d like you to plant a wildlife-friendly hedge or if you have no room, fruiting trees. 

 

Planting a native hedge is a brilliant way to divide a garden, define boundaries and hide unsightly features, and they are of great value for wildlife, acting as corridors for movement from place to place and for providing food and shelter. Follow these steps to plant your own hedge:

1. Choose some native hedgerow trees to suit what you want, such as Holly, Yew, Hawthorn and Hazel. The best hedges have many different species in them so choose at least four. Choose some evergreen species to provide shelter in the winter.
2. Dig over the site, removing all weeds and roots, then mix in lots of well rotted manure to give your new trees the best start.
3. To get a nice thick hedge, plant 5 plants per metre in two staggered rows.
4. Water well.
5. When the trees are a few years old, consider planting climbers such as
Honeysuckle and bulbs such as Bluebells.

You can get full instructions for planting a hedge by following this link or by clicking the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in December.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

December My Wild Garden Year

November- My Wild Garden Year

Dig a wildlife pond, my wild garden year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, it’s time to create the ultimate wildlife garden feature- a wildlife pond! 

 

Creating a wildlife pond is the best thing you can do for wildlife in your garden or outdoor area. They provide breeding places for amphibians and homes for numerous invertebrates, which in turn encourage other wildlife such as bats and birds. It is also beneficial to your garden, as Frogs, Toads and Newts all eat slugs! To create your own, follow the steps below:

1. Find a sunny area of flat ground, away from too much shading. This will provide the ideal conditions for wildlife in the pond and allow essential oxygenating plants to grow.
2. Decide on the size and shape of your pond. Irregular edges are best as they create many different micro-habitats with areas of different depth, shade and temperature. The most important thing with a wildlife pond is that a variety of depths are provided, with lots of shallow areas and the sides gently slope to the deepest point. If space is limited, you can just create one sloping side. A deeper zone of over 60cm is perfect for over-wintering species.
3. From this plan, decide how much liner you need. We recommend butyl rubber as it is cheap, easy to use and does the job well. To work out how much you need use the following formula:
Width + (2 x max depth) x Length + (2 x max depth)
4. Start digging! Dig a trench out around the edge of your pond that you can bury the edges of the liner in for a neat finish.
5. Once you have dug out your pond shape, remove any sharp stones and line the hole with old newspaper, carpet or similar material to protect your liner. Unroll the liner – let overhanging edges fall into the trenches.
6. Add a layer of sand as substrate for plants and animals .
7. Place stones and logs around the edge of your pond to create shelter for future visitors.
8. Now you can just sit back and wait for the rain to fill your new pond!
9. To support as much wildlife as possible, plant your pond with native pond plants. A suggested (but not exhaustive) list is provided here.

If you haven’t got room for a pond dug into the ground, why not create a barrel pond by lining a barrel or similar container with waterproof lining, adding sandy substrate, logs and stones and pond plants.

You can get full instructions for building a wildlife pond by following this link or by clicking the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in November.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

Tachwedd Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt November My Wild Garden Year

October- My Wild Garden Year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, look after your hibernating Hedgehogs by building a home for them in your garden. 

 

Hedgehogs are declining across the whole of the United Kingdom, due to loss of habitat, busy roads and obstructions to movement. Neat and tidy gardens may not provide many opportunities for Hedgehogs to nest or hibernate, so you can help by building a Hedgehog box for them. This can be as basic or fancy as you like, just as long as it’s waterproof and well ventilated.

1. Build or find a wooden box of approximate dimensions 30 x 40 x 30cm high.
2. Create an entrance tunnel or hole in the side of the box approximately the same size as a CD case (13cm x 13cm).
3. Cover the floor of the box with sawdust or earth.
4. Cover the box with plastic sheeting to keep it dry and position it in a pile of leaves or logs near a compost heap or in a shady overgrown corner.
5. Leave some bedding material outside for hedgehogs to take into the box such as leaves or straw.

You can get full instructions for building a Hedgehog box by following this link or by clicking the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in October.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

October My Wild Garden Year Hydref Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt

September- My Wild Garden Year

Reptile hibernation site, my wild garden year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, it’s a tough one! Create a home for reptiles and amphibians to hibernate in your garden.  

 

There is a novel kind of raised bed you can build which will also provide hibernation sites for wildlife, known as ‘Huglekultur’. It provides a home for wildlife whilst also providing a rich soil for your plants. To make your own, take the
following steps:

1. Start by choosing a dry area, preferably where the raised bed will have long grass or other vegetation around it.
2. Mark out an area of 1m x 2m (or bigger if you like!), with the long side facing south.
3. Take the turf off this area and set it aside, then dig a trench 20cm deep.
4. Fill this trench with large logs in a non-regimented way, roughly forming the shape of a bank up to 1m high. This will create chambers below the frost level where reptiles, amphibians and other species can hibernate.
5. Cover this log pile with smaller branches and twigs.
6. Place the turf over the top, grass-side facing down and cover with the earth from the trench, plus extra if required.
7. You can then plant vegetables and wildflowers on top of the mound. The wildflowers will attract pollinators to your vegetables and the reptiles and amphibians living in the bed will take care of the pests for you!

If you don’t have room for a big version of this, create a small one by scaling down the above instructions. Make sure you dig to below the frost level!

You can get full instructions for creating reptile hibernation sites by clicking the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in September.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

Medi Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt September My Wild Garden Year

August- My Wild Garden Year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, put up bat boxes to look after your nocturnal neighbours. 

Make a home for bats in your garden and put up bat boxes on large trees or buildings. Be aware that bats are protected, so avoid trees or buildings that you wish to do work on in the future where possible.
1. You can buy good quality boxes from many suppliers, or if you are feeling crafty you can make your own using the dimensions in the links below. Make sure you use untreated wood and choose wood with a rough texture to give bats something to cling to.
2. Site boxes 3-5m above the ground, on trees or houses, in partial sunlight and away from the prevailing wind. A clear flight path to the box is preferential for bats.

Don’t worry if your bat box isn’t used straight away, bats are quite particular and will move around according to time of year.

You can get full instructions for erecting bat boxes by clicking this link and the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in August.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

August My Wild Garden Year Awst Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt

July- My Wild Garden Year

Make a home for newts, my wild garden year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, create a home for newts to shelter. 

A rock pile is a great thing to add to your garden for wildlife, especially in conjunction with a garden pond. Amphibians such as Great Crested Newts and Toads will crawl into the cracks in the stones for shelter and hibernation sites, and they will be used by a myriad of invertebrates.

Creating a rock pile is incredibly simple. Just follow the steps below:
1. Choose a site for your rock pile. Near to a pond is ideal as newts and other amphibians will not have to go far to find shelter. Even better if it is amongst long grass as this will provide food and a safe passage between the pond and shelter.
2. Source some stone. This could simply be rubble from a nearby building site – newts aren’t fussy! But if you would like it to look neater, you can source some more decorative stone.
3. Pile the rocks together any way you wish, but ensure that there will be spaces in between the rocks and under them for newts to crawl into. Newts are unlikely to climb so it would be better if the rock pile is wider than it is high.

You can get full instructions for creating features for newts by clicking this link and the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in July.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

July My Wild Garden Year Gorfennaf Mehefin Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt

June- My Wild Garden Year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, open your own Nectar Cafe in your garden for pollinators like butterflies and bumblebees. 

The garden will now be coming alive with bees, butterflies and other nectar-loving invertebrates, which you can help by creating a nectar café.
1. Choose a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden and mark out a flower bed.
2. Remove the turf and turn over the soil in preparation for planting.
3. Plant out a variety of plants to try and ensure that nectar is provided from spring right through to autumn. Suggestions can be found on each page of this guide.
4. Choose native varieties over cultivated plants, which are unlikely to produce as much nectar.
5. Add climbers that also produce berries and hips for added bonus e.g. Honeysuckle, Dog Rose, Ivy and Black Bryony.
6. Attract moths with night-scented plants like Evening Primrose and Night-Scented Stock.

 

You can get full instructions for planting a nectar cafe by clicking this link and the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in June.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

June My Wild Garden Year     Mehefin Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt

May- My Wild Garden Year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, we would like you to create ‘Bugingham Palace’ for the bugs in your garden.

This is a great activity for adults and children alike! ‘Insect hotels’ can come in any shape and size. You can go large and use stacked pallets as your frame, or you can use a smaller container like a small wooden box or a plastic bottle with the end cut off. It’s entirely up to you. They will benefit all kinds of critters, from solitary bees to lacewings. There is
no right or wrong way to build an insect hotel so just have fun and get creative.

Try to fit some of the following features into it:
l Hollow plant stems e.g. bamboo canes
l Twigs and sticks
l Straw
l Logs (bark on) with different size holes drilled into the end
Make sure they are all over 90mm deep
l Corrugated cardboard rolled up in a waterproof container
l Sand
l Bricks and stones (whole and broken)

You can create a deluxe hotel by leaving some empty space for Hedgehogs and Frogs at the bottom of your insect hotel and adding a green roof on the top – simply cover the roof with sacking or similar, with some holes at the side for drainage that won’t leak into the hotel, cover with compost and seed with wildflower meadow mix.

You can get full instructions for creating a bug hotel by clicking this link and the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in May.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

May My Wild Garden Year Mai Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt

Come Join Us in Cardigan

Ceredigion local group walk

Are you local to the Cardigan area?

Do you want to help your local wildlife, meet new people and learn new skills? The South Ceredigion Wildlife Group is looking for new members.

The South Ceredigion Wildlife Group is a local group based in Cardigan. The group is run entirely by volunteers and raises money for the Wildlife Trust’s local nature reserves.

Throughout the winter the group puts on talks from topical speakers on wildlife which are very well attended. They meet in the Catholic Church Hall in Cardigan on the first Wednesday of each month from September through to April. The group are looking for people to join them to help with organising these talks.

There are a variety of jobs available including: introducing the speaker at the monthly talks, assisting with group finance, assisting with co-ordinating talks and finding speakers, assisting with tea and coffee facilities at the meetings or just coming along with some new ideas.

Any contribution, large or small would be much appreciated!

The group’s AGM will be held at 7:30pm on Weds the 4th of April in Cardigan Catholic Church Hall. The AGM will be followed by a talk “The Plight of the Bumblebee” by Sinead Lynch of Bumblebee Conservation. All welcome! Come along to see what it’s all about.

If you’d like more information please contact the Welsh Wildlife Centre on 01239 621600 or email wwc@welshwildlife.org

Ceredigion local group walk

 

April- My Wild Garden Year

Make a deadwood garden My Wild Garden Year

For this month’s My Wild Garden Year challenge, make a deadwood garden to create shelter for invertebrates, Hedgehogs and Wrens. 

 

Log piles are a great good creature feature to add to your garden. They will provide areas for shelter and food for many different species, including amphibians, Hedgehogs, lizards and invertebrates such as beetles. Fungi and lichens will also quickly colonise the dead wood.

1. Collect together logs and sticks of various different shapes, sizes and species of tree.
2. Find a shady area of the garden.
3. Pile them together. You can be as neat or as messy as you like as long as you create lots of cracks and crevices for wildlife to crawl into!

You can get more instructions for creating creature features by clicking this link and the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in April.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title ‘My Wild Garden Year.

Ebrill Fy Flwyddyn Gardd Gwyllt   April My WIld Garden Year