Author: Lyndsey Maiden

Orchid Seeding at Parc Slip

Orchids have been popping up all over Parc Slip for the past few months, but one place where we would like to see more Orchids is in our new wildflower meadows.

Lesser spotted orchidTherefore we are planning to plant the meadows with Orchid seeds and as such, we will be starting a project to collect and dry the Orchid seeds from the flowers this year.

We are currently looking for volunteers willing to help us collect and dry the seeds, so if you would like to get involved please email Lorna on l.baggett@welshwildlife.org.

A pink Elephant in the ear

Elephant Hawk Moth by Chris Lawrence

Your experience of Welsh wildlife is significantly impoverished until you’ve had an Elephant Hawk- moth try to fly into your ear or had a Large Yellow Underwing up your sleeve.

Setting up the moth trap

Setting up the trap

The theory of Mothing goes like this: you put out a bright light and all the local moths come and sit nicely on your egg-boxes in helpful photogenic poses, perfectly showing all their relevant identifying features in pristine condition just short of having little labels in fact.  This does sometimes happen. No it does really!

We were trapping with George Tordoff from Butterfly Conservation Wales and we arrived at Y Gweira in the rain which didn’t bode well for the nights trapping, but it soon cleared and a stable temperature of around 16 degrees meant the moths soon started to come in.

The theory was working well with a few nice micro-moths sitting on the trap being smug in their almost unidentifableness, evolution producing a spectrum of miniscule variations on a theme of white, brown and grey.

Elephant Hawk Moth by Chris Lawrence

Elephant Hawk Moth by Chris Lawrence

After the micros it was nice to be hit in the head by a pink elephant (a recognised hazard of sitting too close to the trap).   After this the macros started coming in, some following the theory some not.    At this point getting hit by pink elephants was getting a little dull so it was nice to be hit by a load of Drinkers instead, when the Drinkers stopped misbehaving a Large Emerald drifted in accompanied by a couple of Peppered Moths, a Sallow Kitten, a few Buff Arches and a glorious Pebble Prominent.

The photographers amongst us tried cajoling, pleading then demanding the moths follow the letter of the Mothing theory without much success, with one moth in focus another, invariably a Drinker, would barge into it or a moth would sit perfectly on a right hand index finger (and only a right hand index finger) making for a lovely photo which then could only be taken holding a DSLR with a left hand.

Despite a short shower at around midnight by the end of the session (at around 1 AM) the list was up to around 80 species.

Rare Moth Found in Cadoxton Ponds

Anania perlucidalis by Vaughn Matthews

Rare moth species discovered at Dow Corning’s Cadoxton Ponds Nature Reserve

For the past few years we have been managing the Cadoxton Ponds Nature Reserve, in Barry, Wales on behalf of Dow Corning. The nature reserve is important for an array of wildlife due to the number of different habitats present, from grassland and scrub to ponds and reedbeds.

Anania perlucidalis by Vaughn Matthews

Anania perlucidalis by Vaughn Matthews

As part of the management, we have been carrying out a range of species surveys including birds, butterflies, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. These surveys have produced an already impressive species list for the site with a number of scarce or rare species having been recorded, including bittern, harvest mice, shrill carder bees and small blue butterflies.

One of the regular monitoring activities that we carry out is moth recording on the reserve. This involves putting out a powerful light overnight and visiting early in the morning to see what has been attracted in before releasing the moths unharmed.

The exciting part of moth trapping is that you never know what might turn up and this was certainly the case when the trap was checked on the morning of 24th of June this year. It had been a warm night which usually means good numbers of moths and we recorded over 50 species with one in particular being very noteworthy.

It may look fairly under-whelming compared to some of the spectacular moths around at this time of year but this species hadn’t been recorded in the UK until 1957 and wasn’t seen in Wales until 2009. This was only the 3rd record of Anania perlucidalis (it doesn’t have a common name) for Wales and the first for Glamorgan!

Marsh thistle

Marsh thistle

The species measures about 2cm from wingtip to wingtip and inhabits wetlands such as marshes and reedbeds where the caterpillars feed on Marsh Thistles. Cadoxton Ponds has extensive areas of such habitats so hopefully the moth can continue to flourish here and spread further across the county.

We manage the nature reserve to benefit wetland-loving species such as this as good marshy habitats are relatively scarce in the local area. We will be running the moth trap again soon and hoping that there will be something equally exciting to report!

Cadoxton Ponds is 30 acre nature reserve created by Dow Corning on land adjacent to the manufacturing site. The reserve hosts educational visits to support the sustainability curriculum.

Acceptance and 400

Agapeta hamana Graham Watkeys

It has taken me just over a year to reach it and it hasn’t been without frustrations, realisations and an acceptance of limits BUT on the 25th of June 2015 the 400th species went on my list at Taf Fechan.

Agapeta hamana Graham Watkeys

Agapeta hamana Graham Watkeys

The 400th wasn’t the first thing I saw that was a very small species of Bee buried deep in a Dandelion, not only beyond my cameras technological capabilities but also very small bees buried in Dandelions are inevitably unidentifiable without taking a specimen, killing it, popping it under a microscope and using keys with some very specialised language. I’m not against taking specimens I just don’t want to, thus my first acceptance of limits: some things are just not identifiable.

The 400th wasn’t the second thing I saw, that was what I thought must be a perfectly identifiable little moth with distinct markings sat happily on a bramble until I got my camera out focused on the thing then watched it fly away through the viewing screen knowing that because of the delay by the time I looked up I would never find it again, thus my second acceptance of limits: things escape.

The 400th wasn’t the third thing I saw which was exactly the same as the second thing I saw but every single photo was so completely out of focus you could barely make out it was a moth at all thus my third acceptance of limits: technology is not infallible.

The 400th wasn’t the fourth thing I saw because that was a fly and all flies (with a few exceptions) are a massive minefield of hideously complex similarities and impossible without genital dissection and a spot of amateur genital dissection on a Thursday night doesn’t appeal, thus my fourth acceptance of limits: you can’t do everything.

The 400th wasn’t the fifth, sixth seventh, eighth, ninth or tenth things I saw because I got distracted by hoverflies thus my fifth acceptance of limits: there will always be favourites.

The 400th was actually the 11th thing I saw which was rather ironically another micro-moth but this one behaved itself by sitting still, by being perfectly identifiable without reference to genitals and being in focus. So the official 400th species on my list is Agapeta hamana!

Graham Watkeys Taf Fechan Warden

Natalie Brown – Living Seas Awareness Officer, New Quay

Natalie Brown joined Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in May 2015 as the Living Seas Awareness Officer. Natalie will be developing and delivering a programme of marine environmental education and awareness activities linked to The Wildlife Trusts Living Seas work.

Nathalie BrownNatalie has always had a keen interest and passion for the environment, especially marine conservation. She studied Environmental Science with Marine Conservation at Plymouth University, graduating in 2008, where her dissertation project focused on the effects of marine ecosystem in the South West of England.

After spending some time travelling in Central America she returned to university in 2010 to complete a masters in Managing the Environment (Marine Ecosystems) at Aberystwyth University. As part of her masters she completed a project assessing the distribution of the native oyster in Milford Haven.

In 2011 Natalie went to work for the Environment Agency (now Natural Resources Wales) as a Bathing Water Officer, where she worked on a Welsh Government funded project to improve water quality at Ceredigion beaches.

Natalie will be working with the Living Seas Team in New Quay to help raise awareness about the marine environment with both local schools and tourists to the area. Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre will be holding a range of events over the summer. Mondays during the school holidays will become Marine Mondays where you can drop in to play some marine themed games and make some coastal crafts. Every Thursday during the summer holidays CBMWC will be holding Become a Dolphin Detective sessions. This will allow children to learn about Cardigan Bay’s Dolphins and take part in a land based survey to help record dolphin sightings in the bay.

Natalie also hopes to set up a Wildlife Watch group in New Quay to provide monthly meetings for local children to take part in marine environmental activities.

For more information and to find out what activities and events are taking place please visit Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre’s website www.cbmwc.org, call 01545 560224 or email natalie.brown@welshwildlife.org. All activities at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre will also be advertised on The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales event calendar www.welshwildlife.org/events/.

Access, boundaries and surveys in Ceredigion

Cwm Clettr dormouse - Em Foot

With public access and so many paths on our reserves we have to spend quite a lot of time maintaining them and this is a good time of year to do some (we can’t cut trees down or scrub and the vegetation is growing again). This year there has been the routine and the one offs. After several of our waymarkers went missing at Coed Maidie B Goddard we spent several days reinforcing the remaining ones. One of the old bridges had become unsafe so we have replaced it with a new one too.

The top path at Coed Simdde Lwyd has to be cleared of bracken annually. We also bash a small patch in a glade and around any young trees or heather that are struggling through. The bracken was still very young and the bluebells still flowering, the view, as always, was stunning.

At Caeau Llety Cybi we cut a path along the green lane, doing our best to leave as many flowers as possible, and cleared some scrub from the meadows. At Rhos Fullbrook a section of boardwalk needed replacing and a few others mending, trees and vegetation was cut back. We also repaired some of the steps at Old Warren Hill.

We’ve also done a lot of work on our boundaries over the last couple of months: A long stretch of very steep fence at Pant Da needed new posts (thank you to North Ceredigion Local Group who purchased the posts) and there were a few bits needed mending at Old Warren Hill and Rhos Fullbrook.

Cardigan Island gull survey - Em Foot

Cardigan Island gull survey – Em Foot

Survey work: At the end of May we undertook our biannual Cardigan Island gull count. 11 of us went over to the island and carried out the count which involves walking back and forth across the island in a line counting lesser black backed gull nests, being careful not to stand on any eggs or chicks that may be hiding in the vegetation. Unfortunately it seems numbers are still dropping. While on the island we also made a note of other species seen and goose nests. It wasn’t just birds- we saw grey seals and dolphins too. The bluebells were still in bloom and looked fabulous.

Cwm Clettr dormouse - Em Foot

Cwm Clettr dormouse – Em Foot

Over the winter we added 30 new dormouse boxes to the 50 already at Cwm Clettwr. Our dormice checks have now started again and we’ve found dormice on both visits (earlier than previous years). Although mostly used by bluetits so far, one of the new dormouse boxes did have a torpid male in it. Hopefully we’ll find more over the summer.

This is also the time of year for invasive species removal. So far we have pulled Himalayan balsam at Rhos Glyn Yr Helyg, had a joint work party doing the same at Castle Woods and we will be pulling ragwort at several reserves in the next few weeks.

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 visit: https://welshwildlife.org/where-i-live/ceredigion/information-on-ceredigion-nature-reserves/

New Wild Sculptures

Woodland Sculptures Carmel

The volunteer group has spent several days pulling the invasive Himalayan Balsam plant at Castle Woods. This is a particularly invasive non native species that is causing significant problems by out-competing our own native flora.

Unfortunately it spreads easily along water courses, and when the Towy floods each winter, flood waters bring balsam seed up to the base of our woodlands.

Although easily pulled up, the shear volume of plants require a considerable amount of man power to ensure that they don’t become too prolific in the woodlands.
Last week a combined effort from volunteers from Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion resulted in a huge amount of Balsam pulled, and another section of woods cleared.

We’ve also been fixing up the fence at Nant Melin. This is a woodland reserve near Rhandirmwyn. The surrounding land is grazed my sheep and where trees have fallen across the fence, sheep have been accessing and grazing the woodland floor. We have repaired some of the fence but shall be back again shortly to continue the job and ensure the whole periphery fence is secure.

Woodland Sculptures Carmel

Woodland Sculptures Carmel

A small number of carved wood sculptures have been installed at Carmel. These will help make the site more welcoming to visitors whilst also helping to informally interpret the wildlife found on the reserve. Also installed has been several new interpretation panel at the various entrances, these should hopefully help new visitors to the site orientate themselves better and explain some of the site’s special features.

We have spent a day at Cors Goch, our lowland raised bog near Carmarthen. The path was becoming overgrown and access onto the bog had become increasingly difficult. Keeping this path open is important for management and research purposes.

Lynda’s Abseil for Wildlife

Lynda gets ready

We would just like to say an enormous thank you to Lynda Hickling, ex trustee, stirling member of her local group and volunteer, who braved her fear of heights in order to raise money for passion, wildlife. Well done Lynda – we salute your bravery and welcome the much needed funds to support this great work

I finally completed my abseil challenge on Sunday 14th June. I was a little nervous by the time I reached the top of the central tower in Pembroke Castle, but the instructors were very calm and reassuring, making sure it was fun for all concerned. I must admit that half-way down I wondered whether I was doing the right thing, but by that time it was too late and I just continued to the ground.

I feel I have achieved something which I might never have done if it hadn’t been for the opportunity to raise money for the Wildlife Trust. Once I’ve collected all the promised sponsorship, we should have just surpassed the £1,000 target which will be divided between the Meadows and Seabirds appeals. I’d like to thank all those who have given a donation and particularly those who also came along to give me moral support on the day!

WTSWW Publications and Reports 2015

Taf Fechan Bee Orchid by Graham Watkeys

Conservation Team

Conservation Team Report 2014-15 (2Mb) A report summarising the work of the conservation staff during the financial year.

WTSWW Research Report 2015 (0.8Mb) A report Summarising all research and original survey work undertaken by WTSWW and its partners or hosted by WTSWW on its nature reserves during 2015

Islands

Skokholm Island Annual Report 2015 (19MB)

Ramshorn Snails and the non-marine molluscs of Skokholm Island

Skokholm Seabird Report 2015 (5MB)

 

Skomer Island Annual Report 2015

Skomer Seabird Report 2015

Skomer Bird Report 2015

Long Term Volunteers Report Alice Hadley

Long Term Volunteers Report Sarah Purdon

Skomer Seal Report 2015

Projects

Living Seas: ShoreFin project 2015 report

Badger Vaccination report Castle Woods 2015

Living Seas: Future Fisheries, The Welsh Fishing Industry

Living Seas: Future Fisheries, Assessment of Welsh Fisheries

Academic Papers relating to WTSWW’s work or nature reserves

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Chasing the Butterfly of Coincidence

Taf Fechan Bee Orchid by Graham Watkeys

Sometimes one thing leads to another and that other thing can be rather unexpected. I knew there were Small Heath butterflies on our reptile slope and as I was due to do a reptile survey anyway I thought I would try and get some photos.

Small Heath by Graham Watkeys

Small Heath by Graham Watkeys

Small heaths are…. well…. small and mostly brown but having done all my courses on advanced butterfly stalking and being armed with a sense of determination and willing to spend some of my judiciously hoarded store of patience (and a fully charged camera) off I went.

Having found my Small Heath and as expected ended up following it around waiting for it to at last land and settle (which are not the same thing) I sat down (slowly) my eyes firmly fixed on a little brown butterfly in amongst a load of brown background and took my photos. Then I did what you do when taking photos I sat looking at what I had taken skipping though the many blurred ones judging whether my store of patience had been spent wisely.

Taf Fechan Bee Orchid by Graham Watkeys

Taf Fechan Bee Orchid by Graham Watkeys

Then I looked to my left and there it was, so close I was practically sitting on it. A Bee Orchid. I got rather excited after the cold shivers of thinking “I could have sat on that!” had faded. One plant on the whole of the reptile slope and this little brown butterfly had led me straight to it!

The first Bee Orchid ever to have been recorded at Taf Fechan as far as I’m aware (maybe the first in Merthyr Tydfil for that matter). Now I am not a believer in what I’ve delightfully heard called “New-age woo” (my crystals are purely there out of geological interest) but I want to use words like quantum synchronicity and cosmic alignment which are probably just as bad and are “New-age woo” in all but name so maybe I should call it coincidence?

Bridgend Group Wildlife Wobble

Tawny Owl Mike Bright

If you are free on Saturday the 15th of August why not join the Bridgend Group on their ‘Wildlife Wobble’?

Tawny Owl Mike Bright

Tawny Owl Mike Bright

This is the first of what we hope will become an annual event for the group with the emphasis on socialising and making new friends (and catching up with old ones!). We will be meeting at the The Horseshoes in Marcross, Vale of Glamorgan at 12:00 then wandering around the coast path and quiet country lanes enjoying the views and keeping a lookout for the local wildlife – see pics (regular buses available from Bridgend/Llantwit Major).

The route conveniently passes some lovely country pubs (The Horseshoes, The Plough, The Lamb & Flag, The Star, The Fox & Hounds and the Pelican) which we will be stopping at along the way for refreshments. We will be passing through the villages of Wick and St Brides Major so if the walk is too long for you, you can finish at any point and make your own way home.

We are aiming to make it to the Pelican for around 7pm which is next to the bus stop where you can travel back to Bridgend/Llantwit Major.
Hope to see you there!