Author: Lyndsey Maiden

Brown Hairstreak Spotting

Nectaring brown hairstreak on hemp agrimony - Cr. Maggie Sproule

Brown Hairstreaks event, West Williamston nature reserve

On the 15 and 16th of August, avid butterfly enthusiasts descended on the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wale’s nature reserve at West Williamston to look for brown hairstreak butterflies.

The first aim was to record as many individual adults (in one day) as possible to help in trying to assess the size of the overall population. The second aim was to continue to look for ‘assembly’ trees by recording early morning males, and which trees they were in.

On the first day 28 brown hairstreaks were observed – a record for the site in one day. This figure has been humbled slightly by receiving a report that on the same day another count was taking place at a site in Hampshire where 76 were recorded in 2 hours! So there is a challenge for the next Hairstreak Weekend in 2016.

The 28 recorded were mainly males up in the canopy of ashes but 5 were low level females of which 3 were observed egg laying.

Day 2 was a shadow of Day 1 with only 10 brown hairstreaks seen, all up in the canopy of ashes and relatively lethargic with definitely no more egg laying.

The weather on the two days was similar although this is typical hairstreak behaviour – one day all guns blazing, the next spent in harbour refuelling.

However to fly the flag for West Williamston (one of the UK’s best sites for this species) the reserve may have produced the first record of egg laying in 2015 in the UK.

Nectaring brown hairstreak on hemp agrimony - Cr. Maggie Sproule

Nectaring brown hairstreak on hemp agrimony – Cr. Maggie Sproule

Those wishing to catch up on their brown hairstreaks still have time – the latest ever adult sighting at West Williamston was on the 5th of October in 2013 by David Moore. The Wildlife Trust reserve at Teifi Marshes is also another good site for brown hairstreaks.

This year they have been seen feeding on hemp agrimony. This is apparently the only site in Wales where nectaring brown hairstreaks have been seen.

A big thank you must be extended to David Redhead, the county’s butterfly recorder and Nikki Anderson, the voluntary warden for West Williamston who were both instrumental in organising the event and who continue to champion the surveying for the brown hairstreak at this reserve.

Nathan Walton
Wildlife Trust Officer, Pembrokeshire

Scything Bracken and Pulling Ragwort

ragwort close up L Maiden
Himalayan balsam control by Lizzie Wilberforce

Himalayan balsam control by Lizzie Wilberforce

The Carmarthenshire volunteer group has spent most of the summer months battling some of our more competitive and successful plants, both native and non native.

We have been repeatedly scything bracken in areas of Carmel where rolling is impossible, in an attempt to weaken it at it’s rhizome.

At Castle Woods we have been pulling the incredibly invasive Himalayan balsam to stop it from outcompeting the native woodland flora.

We have also been out and about on several reserves keeping paths open by cutting back the encroaching bramble.

Ragwort has been pulled at Carmel on fields that are managed as hay meadows. Whilst recognising ragwort is, in some cases, vital for invertebrates who feed on it, as well as an important nectar source, it can be a problem for grazing animals when eaten.

Most animals are aware to avoid it and have been doing so for millennia. The problem mainly seems to derive from when it has been dried as it becomes more palatable. We have therefore made the decision to leave some ragwort but to try to control it on fields that would be cut for hay or silage.

A holding pen has been built at Rhos Cefn Bryn, this is important in enabling the site to continue to be grazed. With increased restrictions on cattle movement and TB testing becoming more prevalent, we have to look at putting infrastructure onto our sites to enable this to happen.

Thanks to Carmarthenshire County Councils’ Mynydd Mawr Marsh Fritillary project who funded materials needed to build the pen, and project officer Amanda Evans who helped us build it on a very wet day in July.

Cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort Zsuzsanna Bird


PPL Helping Pets and Wildlife

Rhys on site with Lorna and Dogs' Trust
Rhys on site with Lorna and Dogs' Trust

Rhys on site with Lorna and Dogs’ Trust

People, Wildlife and Pets Benefit Thanks to Players of People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL)

Tails were wagging today as dogs from Dogs Trust Bridgend Rehoming Centre went for walkies at Brynna Woods and Llanharan Marsh which is owned by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

Joining them was Wales’ wildest television presenter Dr Rhys Jones who brought along his black German Shepard Collie cross rescue dog.

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and The Dogs Trust both receive funding thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, to deliver projects in Wales and across Great Britain. People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery which has awarded an amazing £75.6 million to good causes since its launch in 2008.

Support from players makes a huge difference to hundreds of communities with funding awarded to numerous grass root groups and local projects as well as national and international charities. PPL logo

In 2015, Wildlife Trusts Wales will receive a total of £200,000 from the lottery which will allow the six Wildlife Trusts across Wales to continue their vital conservation work to protect nature for the future. The Trusts have used the funding to deliver educational opportunities and events for local communities and schools, as well as maintaining nature reserves across the country.

The support is invaluable to Dogs Trust, who will also receive £200,000 from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery this year and trying out the route at Brynna Woods were a number of residents from the nearby Bridgend-based rehoming centre. Included in the canine panel were double act Tinker and Tegan, a pair of four-month-old Collies.

The Brynna Highland Cows

The Brynna Highland Cows


Dogs of all shapes and sizes from the rehoming centre popped down and are hoping that sometime soon their new families will take them on lovely walks just like today. Also keen to get a sniff of the action were eight-year-old Beagle Daley, four-year-old Collie Molly, and bouncing along behind them was eight-month-old Terrier cross Ace.

Dr Rhys Jones, who is an ambassador for Wildlife Trusts Wales, said:

“The generosity from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has really helped us carry out our work to protect wildlife and teach people about the benefits of nature.

“It has been wonderful today to meet the team from Dogs Trust and Bran has really enjoyed making some new friends! We are all very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.”

Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manager, said:

“The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales have worked closely with the local communities of Llanharan and Brynna to ensure everyone enjoys this wonderful nature reserve. Brynna Woods is home to two circular walks that will take visitors through woodland and meadows, the woodland is a mix of ash, oak, willow and hazel and there is a fantastic display of bluebells in the spring time.

We do ask that visitors adhere to our ‘Dogs permitted’ policy on all our nature reserves. If you are planning to take your dog to a nature reserve, please act responsibly during your visit and help us to keep our sites safe for wildlife and people.”
People’s Postcode Lottery players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes and for every £2 ticket bought, 55p goes directly to charities.

Island Bookings 2016

Skokholm Island

Skomer Island

Bookings for Skomer Island 2016 will commence on Monday 5 October at 9am for members of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales only who will have to give a valid membership number at the time of booking.

Non members may book from the third Monday in October.

The phone lines will be busy so please have alternative dates to hand. You may email your request in but give at least three alternative dates. If you wish to check your membership status or join the Trust the membership department is based at the Tondu office on 01656 724100. Please keep an eye on the website in case of any possible changes.

Overnight visits can be as little as one night but please be aware that from Tues 3 May to Wed 29 June island stays will be two nights except Saturday nights which remain as one night. You can combine Saturday with the two days either side of Saturday to make a longer stay. Monday 2 May, which is a bank holiday, is also a one night stay or can be combined with the following Tues and Wed to make a three night stay.

Puffins from April to early August

Puffins from April to early August

Shearwater Watch is also likely to be arranged for end of August/beginning of September as two night stays, precise dates to be announced in due course. We are also likely to run birdwatching weekends (three nights) with Dave Astins of West Coast Birdwatching in April and September, again dates will be announced in due course.

Skokholm Island

Skokholm Island bookings will start, again for Trust members only, on Monday 12 October. Dave Astins’ weekend course on Skokholm in September 2015 booked up very quickly and we are hopeful of running a similar course in 2016. Keep an eye on our website for more news.

Non members can book from Monday 19 October.
Other events will be arranged on both Skomer and Skokholm in due course so do keep checking our website for further information.



Smut at Pwll Waun Cynon

The fungal smut Microbotryum saponariae infecting the anthers Graham Watkeys
The fungal smut Microbotryum saponariae infecting the anthers Graham Watkeys

The fungal smut Microbotryum saponariae infecting the anthers Graham Watkeys

Ok let’s talk smut shall we?

It’s probably the only time I can genuinely write about smut without being severely edited (or blacklisted – the editor!).

I wasn’t looking for smut in fact I didn’t even know I had seen any smut until I got back and looked at the pictures (I had to enlarge many of them), but there it was, pure smut bold as brass!

Smuts are a kind of fungus, an internal parasite of plants, often invisible until they are mature and start to cause damage to the host plant, in this case Soapwort.

Soapwort by Graham Watkeys

Soapwort by Graham Watkeys

Now I was very happy finding the Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) as it was a new species recorded at Pwll Waun Cynon and an interesting plant in its own right.

An archaeophyte introduced to Britain by man in “ancient” times due to its usefulness as a soap (and I’d like to think because it’s a very pretty plant), it is now thoroughly naturalised and is still used by many as a natural soap.

Like most species Soapwort has its own specialised set of parasites including its own smut called Microbotryum saponariae which infects the anthers in flowers causing them to darken and eventually split releasing the smuts spores rather than the plants pollen.

This particular genus has very recently been subjected to genetic analysis revealing several new species hidden within it that appear to be host specific Microbotryum saponariae is one of those newly defined species.

So not only can I write about smut I can write about a type of smut new to science.

Graham Watkeys – Taf Fechan warden

A good season for brambles

Meadowsweet by Em Foot

Well the summer may not have been perfect for us humans but it has certainly been great for the brambles!

It seems you only have to turn your back and they have grown back across the path so we’ve been doing lots of path clearance at lots of reserves including Coed Maidie B Goddard, Old Warren Hill, Cwm Clettwr, Penderi Cliffs, Pant Da and Cors Ian.

Meadowsweet by Em Foot

Meadowsweet by Em Foot

We’ve also cleared entrance tracks at Rhos Pil Bach, Pennar Fawr and Rhos Marion. The bracken at the top of Coed Simdde Lwyd, along the path and in the small glade needed attention again. It gets bashed several times a year and does seem to be thinning!

At Rhos Pil Bach we spent a day clearing the young willow and alder scrub and meadow edge brambles from one of the fields.

Although there was hardly any ragwort at Rhos Marion and very little at Caeau Llety Cybi we pulled what there was and there was plenty at Rhos Glandenys. We also bashed some bracken and counted the greater butterfly orchids at Caeau Llety Cybi. There were 818 counted this year, down slightly on last year but in all four fields, though mostly in the lower two.

Only 2 very energetic young male dormice were found in the dormouse boxes at Cwm Clettwr this month during our monthly monitoring visit. There were also a couple of woodmice and a pygmy shrew.

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:

Gelli Hir in Focus

Gelli Hir Wood

Gelli-Hir Wood is a mixed broadleaved and wet woodland with a large pond, home to many species and the base for the Gower Charcoal Makers.

Gelli-Hir is the perfect place to come for a walk, with wide open tracks and a number of different habitats to explore. You can also see the charcoal kilns of the Gower Charcoal Makers and may even see them burning.

Gelli Hir Wood

Gelli Hir Wood

There is a large and varied population of breeding birds including Buzzard, Tawny Owl and Blackcap in the woodland and Moorhen around the pond.

Moths, butterflies and dragonflies are well represented, including species such as Comma, Holly Blue, Silver Washed Fritillary and Emperor dragonfly.

The main entrance to the wood is at SS562924, near Three Crosses, on an unclassified road leading North from the B4271 to Cil-onen. Parking is in a layby opposite the entrance. The small car park will be opened for events.

We are holding a number of coppicing events at Gelli Hir in the autumn. Please do join us if you can!

Rhondda Hillsides

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries by Tom Marshall

We are embarking on an exciting new project in the Rhondda catchment alongside partners that include Natural Resources Wales, The South Wales Fire Service and the Rhondda Cynon Taff Local Authority.

The aim is to use our knowledge and Habitat Management Toolkit developed during the Local Wildlife Sites project to identify opportunities for improved land management in the Rhondda catchment area with a focus on ffridd, or coed cae, habitat.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries by Tom Marshall

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries by Tom Marshall

These benefits will also take consideration of specific issues, such as wildfires and community access, to identify the range and feasibility of land management options. These could include grazing options, targeted controlled burns, fire break cutting and physical habitat management.

We are currently using existing data to help us identify potential demonstration sites where we can carry out physical improvements on the ground over the coming year.

The Rhondda was identified as one of 3 areas by Natural Resource Wales to undertake a Natural Resource Management Trial Project. The information from this trial will be used to create an Area Statement and inform the application of three bills currently being debated by Welsh Government and Ministers: The Well-being of Future Generations Bill, The Environment Bill and the Planning Bill.

We are currently developing a dedicated webpage but if you live in the Rhondda and/or would like to learn more about the Rhondda Hillsides Project please do contact me:

Local Wildlife Sites Officer: Sarah Woodcock
Phone: 07976 464284

AGM notice 2015

Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphin

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales 13th Annual General Meeting

To be held at The Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre, Fountain Road, Tondu, Bridgend, CF32 0EH on Monday 14th September 2015 at 5.00 pm

The Coffee Shop will be available for snacks and refreshments during the day until 6.30 pm.

Our 2014-15 accounts are now available the minutes from our latest AGM are also available to look at (252 KB).
AGM notice for 14th Sept 2015 AGM and summary accounts 14-9-15

To find out a little more about our Trustee Board we have a some Personal Statements (April 2014 – 76 KB)  from each of the members.

Important Notice

Additional information for Item 4 of the agenda for the AGM on 14th September 2015
Company No: 4398959
Charity No. 1091562

At the AGM of the Trust to be held on the 14th September 2015 the following special resolution is proposed for consideration by members:
That the memorandum and articles of association of the Trust be altered so as to take the form of the memorandum and articles of association below (download c) in substitution for, and to the exclusion of, the memorandum and articles previously registered with the Registrar of Companies and the Charity Commission.

Our Board of Trustees has been working on a revision of the Memorandum & Articles of Association to bring them up to date and in line with current guidance. You can download a) the current version that has been in use since 2007, b) the draft working document showing all the various deletions and insertions, and c) the final version which is being put to members for approval at the AGM on 14th September 2015.
If you require a hard copy of any of the above please contact Diana Clark on

Shearwaters, Seals and Hidden Secrets


Make memories that will last a lifetime this summer with a visit or overnight stay on the beautiful island of Skomer. Recently nominated in the Lonely Planet Top 10 Guide for Best Family Holidays in Europe for 2015, Lonely Planet judges said the island was guaranteed to enthral visitors of all ages and we couldn’t agree more!

Skomer Island during the months of August and September are truly magical as our Manx Shearwaters and Atlantic Grey Seals take centre stage. We will also be introducing our exciting family events ‘Skomer Island Hidden Secrets’ throughout August.

Island Friends Stories Skomer

Island Friends Stories

Skomer Island Hidden Secrets

– Come and join us for two nights 4th – 6th August, 13 – 15th August and experience a side to Skomer you never knew existed!

Explore the rocky shore, peek under reptile sheets to glimpse a Slow Worm or even a Lizard and head out once it gets dark to see the amazing and eerie Manx Shearwater.

Also get hands on going through a moth trap from the night before with the Wardens, these creatures only come out at night and a moth trap is the best way to see all the amazing species that call Skomer their home.

Two night stay. £30 per night per adult, children 12 and under half price.

Seals & Shearwaters

– Our Atlantic Grey Seals during August are busy preparing to give birth to their pups on the pebble beach whilst young Ravens tussle in the sky overhead. Stay overnight and witness our Manx Shearwater chicks exercising their wings and launching clumsily in preparation for their long first flight.

Manx shearwater chick being weighed on Skomer

Manx shearwater chick being weighed

At night the island echoes with their calls as they return from a day at sea. Did you know… almost half the worlds’ population of Manx Shearwaters travel all the way from South America just to breed on Skomer! Graceful in flight but awkward on land these birds guarantee a wildlife encounter you will never forget.

Experience the amazing Manx Shearwaters of Skomer with a two night stay from the 28th August to the 7th September 2015. Meet the “Manxie” chicks as they get weighed, learn about the latest research and the amazing lives of these birds and go on a night time guided walk through the largest Manx Shearwater colony in the world.

Two night minimum stay during Shearwater week is: £70 per adult, £30 per child under 16. For general overnight booking details, prices and availability during August and September please contact our reservations officer:

Booking Hotline: 01239 621600

Environmental groups call on the Prime Minister to intervene as ten green policies are scrapped

Within the first three months of the new government ten different environmental policies have been watered down or scrapped, according to analysis by a group of leading UK environment organisations.

These range from support for renewable energy technology and tax exemptions for low carbon vehicles, which have existed for over a decade, to privatisation of the Green Investment Bank and the scrapping of the Green Deal, the establishment of both being achievements celebrated by the last Conservative-led government.

Protection for the natural environment has also been weakened with a u-turn on a ban on fracking in protected areas. And the UK has cited an ‘emergency’ to exempt itself from an EU-wide ban on neonicotinoids.

Environmental leaders have called on the Prime Minister, as a matter of urgency, to clarify his government’s approach to environmental protection and climate security in what is a vital year for action on climate change.

In a public letter to the Prime Minister, written in response to the findings, the heads of the UK’s leading environmental groups said:

“We welcomed the Conservative manifesto commitment to ‘being the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than that in which we found it’.

Unfortunately, ten green policies which could have helped you to achieve these goals have been cancelled or weakened in the past three months. These policies were developed over many years, often with cross party backing, and with the support and involvement of many businesses and charities.

Only one of these decisions, to end subsidies for onshore wind, was a commitment from your manifesto. We have, as yet, seen no positive new measures introduced to restore the health of our environment or grow the low carbon economy.”

“This list of recent policy reversals is shocking, and shows disregard for the health and wellbeing of current and future generations, as well as for the environment we all depend on. The Prime Minister should reset the government’s path as a matter of urgency, by reinstating these policies and bringing in truly visionary legislation like a Nature and Wellbeing Act.” – Stephanie Hilbourne CEO Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts

The letter to the Prime Minister is available to view

The full press release with policy analysis

Badger Vaccination Resumes in Llandeilo

EcoCon delivering badger vaccine at Dinefwr Castle Woods

Work has just begun on the year two programme of its five year plan to vaccinate the badgers in our Castle Woods nature reserve, Llandeilo.

The steep woodlands at Castle Woods nature reserve are home to a large number of badger setts, and rare breed cattle graze on the adjacent pasture land, including along the fertile Tywi valley. Vaccination of the Castle Woods badgers began in 2014, when thirty four animals were inoculated against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) using an injectable BCG vaccine.

EcoCon delivering badger vaccine at Dinefwr Castle Woods

EcoCon delivering vaccine

The Wildlife Trusts are firmly opposed to the culling of badgers and we at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales have campaigned for many years against a badger cull and lobbied for vaccination to be used as an alternative way to combat bovine TB. Thanks to financial support from the Welsh Government, and through our own fundraising efforts, we have been able to start delivering vaccination of badgers on our own land. The work at Castle Woods will help to protect the resident badger population against the disease and contribute to the benefits of the many other cattle-based and farm biosecurity measures already in place to help protect cattle in the local area from TB.

We will be working in partnership with EcoCon, a badger vaccination specialist, to deliver this work. EcoCon offer nationwide contract badger vaccination services to the agricultural and environmental sectors.

“We firmly believe that badger vaccination is a viable and sustainable alternative to culling in mitigating the role of badgers in the transmission of bovine TB. We felt it was important that we played a role in demonstrating the feasibility of badger vaccination at the scale of an individual holding, even though we have no cattle of our own on this particular site. We want to be part of the solution. We are very supportive of Welsh Government’s policy on badger vaccination and would urge other landowners to look into vaccinating their own badgers. ”

“We are incredibly grateful to Welsh Government for the funding they have contributed, and to all our supporters who have also made this possible. We are still seeking limited additional funds to complete the full five year programme, so we would love to hear from anyone who would consider making a donation to this important work”.

Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, our Conservation Manager

Donations can be made by phone by calling 01656 724100 and asking to donate to the Badger Appeal.