Author: Lyndsey Maiden

Calling all Marine Enthusiasts!

Dolphin in Cardigan Bay by Sarah Perry
Dolphin in Cardigan Bay by Sarah Perry

Dolphin in Cardigan Bay by Sarah Perry

Summer may be far behind us but Cardigan Bay’s bottlenose dolphins are still regular visitors to New Quay Harbour Bay!

Local volunteers watching dolphins from land

Local volunteers watching dolphins from land

Our dedicated Wildlife Trust Living Seas volunteers at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) are still conducting our important land based surveys when weather conditions are suitable. Since the start of November our volunteers have recorded a total of 57 dolphins and 11 Atlantic grey seals.

Yes, it can be cold but volunteer Dave Martin says watching dolphins leaping out of the water and throwing fish is well worth it.

When the wind and rain blows across the bay there is still plenty for our volunteers to do including boat survey data entry, running educational events, website and social media.

With so much to do we are still welcoming new volunteers into our Living Seas Team. We’re looking for anyone, living locally to New Quay, with passion and enthusiasm for protecting the sea and its inhabitants. You do not need a scientific background to get involved as all training is provided.

Volunteering at CBMWC is a great way to contribute to marine research and conservation, meet new people, experience Cardigan Bay’s marine life and gain experience in research, customer service and much more.

If you would like to get involved and volunteer with our research, education and awareness work then contact us via email or phone 01545 560024.

The Wildlife Trust volunteering programme at CBMWC is supported by the Volunteering in Wales Fund via Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

A Wild Spectacle

Starling murmuration at Teifi Marshes by Tommy Evans

Every autumn starlings flock together in massive numbers and can be seen swooping and swirling in their thousands before going down to roost in the reed bed at the Teifi Marshes.

Starling murmuration at Teifi Marshes by Tommy Evans Starling murmuration at Teifi Marshes by Tommy Evans 2 Starling murmuration at Teifi Marshes by Tommy Evans 3 Starling murmuration at Teifi Marshes by Tommy Evans 4
Starling murmuration at Teifi Marshes by Tommy Evans
Early evening is the best time to see them and the café and meadow at the Welsh Wildlife Centre provides a fantastic view from above plus the added bonus of a hot drink (or a warming glass of something) and a slice of cake from the Glasshouse café!

Some evenings predators such as the peregrine falcon can be seen chasing the starlings around making them create ever more elaborate formations as they try to escape the dive bombing falcon.

It is thought that starlings group together like this because there is safety in numbers. Their amazing aerial stunts confuse predators and make it difficult to hone in and capture one individual.

They are also thought to roost together in winter in order to keep warm and to exchange information about good feeding sites.

We’ll be serving Christmas meals from 1st to 20th December offering our usual high standards of homemade local fayre served in our restaurant with panoramic views over the river Teifi towards Cardigan, and the hills beyond where the murmurations occur. Book Now

Fungi in East Glamorgan

Blue Cobalt Rust by Graham Watkeys
Blue Cobalt Rust

Blue Cobalt Rust Graham Watkeys

And Pavlovian Potatoes

Now, I have been interested in fungi for long enough to feel a sense of awe followed by confusion, stupefaction, disbelief and then finally a frankly quasi-religious rapture when I encounter the word “unmistakable” attached to the identification of one.

This particular unmistakable fungus was Cobalt Crust and finding it amongst the tangle of dead Willow was a joy especially since we were again engaged in Knotweed control (an activity not known for its joyfulness) at Pwll Waun Cynon.

The spraying season this year is over really, so as the fragile winter truce starts our campaign was centered on preparing the battlefield or clearing this year’s growth in order to give us easier access to spray next year.

I really fancy a baked potato

I really fancy a baked potato

This meant having our first bonfire of the winter, our feelings of general combustion related rustiness were quickly cleared with the first hot ember on the back of the neck and soon the fire was blazing away merrily.

However, this seasonal milestone also had the unfortunate effect of triggering our Pavlovian conditioned group response to bonfires and the phrase “I really fancy a baked potato…” drifted around us like smoke (I’ve no idea who said it first maybe it just spontaneously appeared from the ether) but due to the aforementioned combustional rustiness none of us had thought to bring any (fortunately this was a comparatively mild manifestation as nobody mentioned Marshmallows) this will not happen again.

Graham Watkeys Taf Fechan Volunteer Warden

All year opening at The Welsh Wildlife Centre

This year as never before the Welsh Wildlife Centre will be open twelve months of the year.

We will be open up to the 20th December, taking only a short break before we are open again on New Year’s Day serving all day breakfasts to those who want a walk around the reserve after too much festive television.

As customary we will be serving Christmas meals from 1st to 20th December offering our usual high standards of homemade local fayre served in our restaurant with panoramic views over the river Teifi towards Cardigan, and the hills beyond. Book Now

Nothing better than a wintery Teifi Marshes

Nothing better than a wintery Teifi Marshes

Teifi Marshes are absolutely beautiful at this time of year when the morning frosts silver the seed heads on the reeds and the winter visiting birds congregate to feast on the plethora of berries, hips and sloes along the wetlands trial.

Bookings are now being taken for our Christmas meals; we can accommodate singles, couples or parties of up to fifty people. Evening bookings may also be available by prior arrangement for larger parties.

The Visitor Centre due to its impressive architecture makes for a striking evening venue during the winter months when the glass structure when fully lit against the darkness is an imposing sight.


Rebecca Vincent

My name is Rebecca Vincent (Becks) and I have recently joined the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales as a Marketing and Communications Officer working 4 days a week at Tondu.

Rebecca VincentBefore this I worked as a rehoming coordinator with the RSPCA and I have a degree in Event Management which included marketing and tourism modules.

I look forward to working for such a great cause here at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and over such an interesting and diverse area.

Winter work starts

Autumn spiderwebs - Em Foot

The grand total for marsh fritillary larval webs at Rhos Glyn yr Helyg was an amazing 671! Last year’s total was 42 so this is a massive increase. They also covered the whole site. I look forward to seeing the adults next summer.

Autumn spiderwebs - Em Foot

Autumn spiderwebs – Em Foot

It was a lovely autumnal morning when we arrived at Coed Maidie to cut the meadow. We were greeted by the beautiful sight of dew covered spider webs sparkling in the sunlight, spreading out in front of us. Unfortunately this was the area we were there to cut. Luckily we only cut half the meadow in any year so we didn’t take them all out. As the day warmed and the sun got warmer they disappeared from sight.

Our winter work programme has started: at Coed Penglanowen we spent a day clearing overhanging and fallen branches along the boundary; we did some woodland thinning at Coed Maidie B Goddard and cut a coupe at Pant Da; cut brambles to keep a gateway and access open at Rhos Glyn yr Helyg and to open up a bluebell glade in Old Warren Hill and at Rhos Marion we did some meadow edge management to stop encroachment.

This month there were 7 dormice, a woodmouse, a pigmy shrew and 4 bats found in the dormouse and bird boxes when we checked at Cwm Clettwr. Again 2 of the dormice were found in a previously unused box on the riverside in an area they haven’t been found in before last month. Quite a few unoccupied dormouse nests were also found.

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 or to find out more about Ceredigion reserves visit the reserves page.

Ash Die Back in Carmel

There has been some sad news for Carmel National Nature Reserve with the discovery and confirmation of Ash Dieback Disease.

Ash Die Back at Carmel by Mat Ridley

Ash Die Back at Carmel by Mat Ridley

This disease is caused by a fungus that causes leaf loss, crown dieback and bark lesions in affected trees. Once a tree is infected the disease is usually fatal.

It is hard to establish how many trees have been affected at Carmel, especially with the time of year and the annual seasonal leaf fall that is naturally occurring. However it appears that the trees showing the initial signs of the disease are the smaller saplings. It is known that smaller trees can succumb quite quickly whereas the older trees can resist it for some time. However prolonged exposure, or another pest or pathogen attaching it in a weakened state does cause more mature trees to die.

It is also known that some trees shown a natural resilience to the disease. We shall have to see how the Carmel Ash fares.

We have been clearing willow and reeds to keep open an area of species rich fen. The rare marsh pea has been recorded here and we annually cut back the encroaching taller vegetation in an effort to retain this important habitat and species.

We have also spent a day at Llandyfeisant church yard at our Dinefwr Castle Woods Reserve. Each autumn the vegetation from the previous year’s growth gets cut back and removed to allow the flora for next year to flourish. For those who have never been the church yard is a great place to see snowdrops in February.

Also at Castle Woods we have been joined by staff from Glamorgan to help in some woodland thinning.

We have entered into a 5 year Glastir Woodland Management agreement for South Lodge Woods. During this period, each year a section has been identified and will be thinned. The thinning will increase the amount of light reaching the woodland floor, encouraging the growth and regeneration of seedlings, and a varied age structure of trees within the woodland. The thinning aims to also giving room to some of the fantastic veteran trees that are present.

Fungus Fun at Parc Slip Nature Reserve

Specimen table
Specimen table

Specimen table by Fay Cosgrove

Fabulous Fungus Explorations on UK Fungus Day

Glamorgan Fungus Group held a special event on Sunday the 11th October to celebrate UK Fungus Day in collaboration with the UK Fungus Day Team at the British Mycological Society and the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales staff at Parc Slip Nature Reserve.

S cavipes

S cavipes by Mike Bright

Group Members organised a fungus specimen display to introduce eager members of the public to the wonderful variety of our native fungi that can be found in across the countryside at this time of year.

Adults and children alike marvelled at the spread of specimens that included the ever popular Fly Agaric, Scarlet Caterpillar Club and a wide selection of colourful waxcaps.

Mike Bright of Glamorgan Fungus Group led two special guided walks around the reserve explaining the importance of fungi to our ecosystems and highlighting the ways that we benefit from their unseen actions.

Over 70 members of the public were shown a wide variety of our commoner fungi and were treated to some close up views of some rare specimens in their natural environment including the boletes Suillus tridentinus and Suillus cavipes (Hollow Bolete – at its only Welsh Site).

eager people queue up at Parc Slip

Eager people queue up at Parc Slip

The long line of smiling fungi fans stretched through the reserves pathways like a strange woodland conga!

The walk ended with the opportunity for people to see the special Red Data List Spathularia flavida (Yellow Fan) which saw a queue of eager wildlife photographers lining up to grab a picture.

Thanks to the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales and the British Mycological Society whose help, assistance and support made the event possible.

Bringing Back Heathland at Llyn Fach

I like friendly wildlife or if you’re being pragmatic and probably more biologically accurate cold-blooded wildlife that can’t actually physically move.

I like to think my finger was the equivalent of a hot radiator on a cold day; she flew off a few minutes later. She is a Black Darter by the way and she and quite a few of her fellow Darters live at Llyn Fach, a natural lake SSSI where we’ve been working for the past few weeks thanks to a Biffa Award grant.

Our main task is the removal of non-native Conifer and other scrub regrowth from the regenerating upland heath habitat which surrounds the lake.

Being used to clearing Hawthorn from Taf Fechan for the past few years this Conifer lark was going to be easy or at least that happy thought was in the mind right up until grabbing the first tree. Oh wait no these are just as scratchy, pointy and deviously stabby as Hawthorn!

Still, looking on the bright side your hands may well be ruined but at least they smell of Conifer resin.

So why don’t you wear gloves?

Yes we thought of that and we found that the best gloves for this particular job are welders gauntlets (big red ones) because your basic ordinary gardening glove just can’t hack it.

It’s probably not a use that the manufacturers of big red gauntlets thought they would be put but I think the phrase “also guaranteed to stop Sitka spruce needles continually stabbing you in that really painful spot between the fingers!” on the packaging could only improve sales.

Despite the niggly feeling we’re somehow declaring war on Christmas it’s nice to see the Heath appear as the Conifers are methodically removed patch by patch.

New Woodlands Officer

Tara out in the field

Hello West Glamorgan

I’m Tara Daniels, the new West Glamorgan’s Wild Woodlands Project Officer for The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales.

Tara out in the field

Tara out in the field

I’ll be working in 12 woodlands across parts of the Gower, Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot area funded by WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants to community projects from funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund.

The project focuses on improving habitat, controlling invasive non-native species, engaging with local communities, and ensuring continuation of management.

A little about me, after studying Wildlife Conservation at university, I volunteered, undertook a traineeship, and was subsequently employed with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Unfortunately funding ran out, so I became Environmental Advisor for a railway construction company, then Development Support Officer for the Wildlife Trust central office (otherwise known as Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts), before joining the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales Conservation team on the Wild Woodlands project.

I’ve already started to get to know the reserves and existing volunteers. So far we’ve been out coppicing at Gelli Hir, Dranges, and undertaking ride management for butterflies in Priors Wood. However this is only the beginning with more work parties planned at these reserves and Coed Gawdir clearing non native rhododendron.

Anybody who would like to volunteer with the project, be it walking round some beautiful reserves surveying, getting stuck in with some habitat management work, or researching and writing management plans, we would love you to come join us. Please contact me on: 07855 009622 for further details.

Furnace to Flowers

Furnace to Flowers Ebbw Vale

Furnace to Flowers is Gwent Wildlife Trust’s vision to transform parts of the former Ebbw Vale Steelworks site into a space flourishing with wild flowers for both people and wildlife to thrive.

Furnace to Flowers Ebbw Vale

Furnace to Flowers Ebbw Vale

With your support this vision could become a reality.

Gwent Wildlife Trust is delighted to have reached the public vote stage as part of a Wales-wide competition run by Grow Wild. If successful the aspiration is to develop a flagship site for Wales on the site of the former steelworks in Ebbw Vale. This site will celebrate the industrial heritage of Wales, and the importance of a Living Landscape for the local community and wildlife to enjoy.

Grow Wild is a £10.5m programme supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to inspire people to sow, grow and support UK native wild flowers.

A key aspect of Ebbw Vale’s Furnace to Flowers is the focus on engaging communities with the project, which will include revamping the steelworks’ extensive site with native wild flowers, creating a corridor of colour from spring to autumn. Sensory gardens, adventure areas, and places to simply relax will be also be created as part of this exiting project.

Furnace to Flowers aims to boost local pride, and will provide opportunities for everyone to get involved. To bring the vision of Furnace to Flowers to life, GWT are urging as many people as possible from Wales, the entire UK and abroad to cast a vote for Furnace to Flowers between October 6th at 8am and November 1st at midnight either by visiting , then simply clicking on Furnace to Flowers or by calling 0808 228 7203 (FREE from UK landlines or mobiles).

Ian Rappel, CEO of Gwent Wildlife Trust said: “A victory through public vote for Furnace to Flowers in Ebbw Vale will inspire not just the communities of Blaenau Gwent, but will showcase the benefits of native wildlife to local communities throughout the Welsh Valleys. This will be a fitting legacy for everyone who laboured so hard at the Works, a green oasis for those who have lived with the consequences of de-industrialisation, and an inspiration for generations to come! Please vote for Furnace to Flowers from October 6th!”

With enough public votes, Gwent Wildlife Trust can turn a vision into a reality and transform the former steelworks into a wild flower haven, which celebrates the past, present and future.

Marsh Fritillary Larval Web Season

Marsh fritillary webs Em Foot
Marsh fritillary webs Em Foot

Marsh fritillary webs Em Foot

After cutting the Coed Penglanowen glade, marsh fritillary larval web surveys on our rhos reserves have dominated our work days for the last few weeks.

A group of students joined us for our Rhos Pil Bach survey. I was feeling hopeful after several adults were seen earlier in the year, in two separate fields.

Marsh fritillary webs and caterpillars Em Foot

Marsh fritillary webs and caterpillars Em Foot

We found 3 webs in a field they haven’t been found in for many years which was very exciting for me but I’m not sure the students were quite as excited! Unfortunately we didn’t find any webs in the usual field, however they do seem to be late this year, the webs we did find were very small, so they may not have hatched yet. There were some good patches of scabious.

We got some good frog, toad and lizard records as well as a few butterflies.

We have been much more successful at Rhos Glyn yr Helyg where we have found over 300 webs so far and still have about a third of the site left to survey!

Last year’s total was 42 so this is a massive increase. It was amazing to see so many and not have to search for them. The size of the caterpillars and webs varied greatly as did the shape of the webs.

With the sun shining many of the caterpillars were out basking. We also saw them stripping the outer layer of the scabious stalks. We still have Rhos Fullbrook to survey and Glyn yr Helyg to finish this week.

Our monthly dormouse box check at Cwm Clettwr was a success again this month with 6 dormice being found including a female and a woodmouse with 4 young. The dormice were also found in a couple of previously unused boxes including one right down at the riverside. Several unoccupied dormouse nests were also found. We haven’t found any breeding nests in the boxes so they must be using the natural habitat for these.

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 to find out more about our Ceredigion reserves.