Author: Rebecca Vincent

Skomer Visitor Officer Position

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales are looking for a Skomer Visitor Officer.

Location: Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

Pay: £16,000. Accommodation is provided for up to nine months of the year.

Post Details:

Permanent contract, with flexible hours. Based on Skomer Island for up to nine months of the year. Summer working hours can be up to 48 per week. Accommodation and bills (apart from food) are covered whilst on the island. The applicant is expected to secure their own winter accommodation.

Main responsibilities:

To market, deliver and improve the overall visitor experience on Skomer Island, including overnight and day visitors.

Duties include:

Day-to-day coordination of the Skomer day visitors and overnight guests, including welcoming visitors to the island and being the primary point of contact on the island for queries

Maintenance and enhancement of visitor facilities such as infrastructure, interpretation, signage and social media

Developing a programme of events and conducting guided walks etc.

Marketing of Skomer as a visitor facility

Line management of Long-term volunteer(s)

To assist with other island management tasks e.g. wildlife surveys

Ensure Health and Safety Policy is complied with at all times

Essential skills:

Three years experience working in hospitality/tourism or in a conservation people role

Experience of staff, visitor and resource management at a high profile site

Experience of working with and motivating volunteers

Experience of maintaining buildings incl. DIY, cleaning and decorating; mechanical aptitude and experience of using and maintaining a range of equipment and machinery e.g. alternative energy systems, tractors etc.

Experience of media and public relations, with a confident and professional manner

H&S legislation and emergency procedures as well as First Aid

Excellent verbal and written communication skills, to a wide range of audiences

Competence with IT including the ability to design posters, leaflets and other marketing materials

Experience of using social media for marketing

Good organisational skills, prioritising workloads effectively and monitoring outcomes

Team working and leadership skills

Experience of budget planning and management for a discrete site

Effective project management and coordination skills with the ability to take on tasks from conception to completion

See full job description here.

Closing date: midnight on Sunday 11th February 2018

Interviews: 20th February in Marloes. Please note that we are unable to reimburse applicants for their travel costs to interview. A lift from Milford Haven train station to Marloes can be arranged for applicants travelling by public transport.

To Apply please complete the application form.

Application for Skomer Visitor Officer 2018 as Word Doc

Application for Skomer Visitor Officer 2018 in PDF

Once completed please send your application form to skomer.warden@welshwildlife.org.

To discuss details of the posts, please contact Bee Bueche or Ed Stubbings on 07971 114302 or email on skomer.warden@welshwildlife.org

Club 500 Winners

Here are the club 500 winners:

December 2017;

1st      8      Mrs Lindsay West

2nd     71   Ms Cross and Mr Hughes

3rd     191  Mrs Moira Convery

 

January 2018;

1st     442    Audrey Fisher

2nd   201    Audrey Thomas

3rd    272    Mr and Mrs Nicolle

Events at Parc Slip this February

Parc Slip Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre is one of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ flagship nature reserves. It is nestled in the heart of Bridgend and a mere 6 minutes off Junction 36 of the M4.

If you haven’t visited yet, we would highly recommend that you make a trip to this beautifully wild reserve a priority for 2018.

At this time of year, the reserve is starting to show signs of blooming life as we edge closer and closer to spring. Lapwing have been seen flying over the reserve and we had our first one land on the wetlands just beyond the Northern Wetlands Hide.

During February the centre will play host to a variety of exciting events to suit everyone. Some of these include the amazing beasts of Parc Slip walk, den building and animal lunch box making, wildlife watch for the young and budding conservationists and virtual reality experiences and self-led crafts.

We also have a new heritage trail that opened up last year. Pop into the visitor centre cafe to grab yourself a trail map. There’s a choice of either a short or long walk. And then explore the heritage of this astounding nature reserve, previously an open cast coal mine, and keep an eye out for our beautifully crafted totem poles along the way.

Take a look at our events page to find Parc Slip events and other Wildlife Trust events happening around South and West Wales.

Merry Christmas

e-Christmas Card - Owl flying
e-Christmas Card - Owl flying

Christmas is a time of reflection and an opportunity to look forward, so we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our members who have supported us this year.

Many of you help us with a monthly donation, so many of you show us your support by turning up to events, volunteering or getting involved with Local Groups. Without all of you there simply would be no Trust.

We also want to thank all of our volunteers who help us daily from managing habitats to mending vehicles, all of you are valued and appreciated.

Thank you to everyone who stepped up last month when we faced the terrible news about our islands and the damage done by the winter storms. You all helped us fundraise enough to start the repair work in the new year.

And so looking forward into the new year there are some exciting projects coming up which we can’t wait to get you involved with. For example we have a years worth of challenges to improve your garden for wildlife for, why not get involved and make a happy new year for your local wildlife.

So thank you and from all of us at The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, we want to wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Wildlife Trust’s Wonderful Wintery Walks on Gower

South Gower Coast - rocks looking over the ocean

Chances are, if you live on Gower, you’ll know all about the amazing wild places the peninsula has to offer, from wild coastal beaches to ancient bluebell woodlands. But did you know that lots of these wildlife havens are managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales?

We manage over 30 nature reserves in the Swansea area, a number of which can be found on Gower and we want to use this opportunity to tell you about some of them that you can enjoy this winter!

Gelli Hir

If you are looking for a family-friendly place, then the beautiful Gelli Hir Wood, near Three Crosses, is a must. A large ancient woodland; with a pond as an added bonus, it has large safe paths for walking, muddy ‘off-road’ routes to test out your wellies and lots of logs and ditches for children to play on, over and under! As a reserve that’s so important for woodland birds, dragonflies and butterflies, it’s definitely worth taking your binoculars and seeing what wildlife you can spot!

South Gower Coast Nature Reserves

Another Wildlife Trust recommended place to go for a wild windy walk is the South Gower Coast Nature Reserves. From Port Eynon you can walk up and over the point and along the cliff paths. Keep an eye out for Peregrine Falcons, Chough, Seals in the ocean and there are caves a-plenty! Home to exceedingly rare coastal plants such as Yellow Whitlow-Grass and Goldilocks Aster, these are very important nature reserves. This winter The Wildlife Trust will be introducing some grazing animals to Overton Mere to help manage the grassland for these rare plants. Keep an eye out for our friendly cattle and ponies.

Cwm Ivy Woods

For a walk with a café nearby, head to Cwm Ivy Woods near Llanmadoc. Another lovely woodland reserve with beautiful views over Cwm Ivy Marsh, the gate can be seen from the lane down to Cwm Ivy.

Elizabeth and Rowe Harding Nature Reserve

Another very interesting nature reserve is the Elizabeth and Rowe Harding Nature Reserve, otherwise known as Ilston Quarry, which is protected for the importance of its geological features. A lovely hazel wood surrounds the quarry and plenty of evidence can be found of the old quarry workings.

Broad Pool

Lastly, did you know the iconic Broad Pool is also a Wildlife Trust nature reserve? This site is important for amphibians, dragonflies and Otters, which feed in the pool.

Lots more information about all these nature reserves, plus Wildlife Trust events that take place on Gower, can be found on our website.

If you would like to support the trust and our work managing the beautiful wild places of Gower you can do so by becoming a member via our website or by ringing 01656 724100.

Lapwing Habitat Management

Lapwing-by-Phil-Bennington.jpg

Parc Slip Nature Reserve continues its habitat management for lapwing each winter while the birds are absent from the reserve. Conservation work parties have started up again and we wanted to welcome anyone who would like to, to come along and help out.

The work parties will be running every Friday from 5th January until spring.

As usual, we will be meeting outside Parc Slip’s visitor centre at 10am (aiming to finish at 12:30pm). And as always please bring wellies and waterproof trousers (if you have them). Equipment and biscuits will be provided.

If you’d like to know any more about these volunteering sessions please contact Meg; People and Wildlife Officer for Parc Slip.

We hope to see you Friday!

A Close Call for Red Squirrels in North Wales

Red squirrel looking down at the camera from a branch above

Fears for the safety of the red squirrel population on Anglesey were raised after a red squirrel, shown here, was found dead on the Island with a suspected case of squirrel pox virus. This followed findings of two other red squirrels found dead on the mainland, one in Coed Mor near to the Britannia bridge. Both were confirmed as positive for squirrel pox virus. The virus is usually fatal in red squirrels and if it had spread it could have potential to lead to the elimination of the population on the island.  Fortunately, laboratory tests found that the red squirrel found on Anglesey was negative for squirrel pox.

Grey squirrels are carriers of the virus and can spread the disease to red squirrels. Greys, however, have developed immunity to the disease. The concern was that the virus could have spread from the mainland as the squirrels can travel back and forth to and from Anglesey.  There is a risk of an outbreak of squirrel pox virus in any red squirrel population in areas where grey squirrels are also present.

In mid-Wales, tests carried out several years ago revealed that squirrel pox virus was present in over 50% of the grey squirrels tested.   This is one of the main reasons why all volunteers undertaking red squirrel monitoring in mid-Wales keep a regular check on feeder activity to ensure that grey squirrels are not visiting the same feeders as reds.  If greys do visit feeders, the feeders are emptied and disinfected and only re-filled once the grey squirrel threat has been removed.

CBMWC Project Officer Post

Bottlenose Dolphins in the sea by Sarah Perry

We are currently advertising for a Project Officer to join the WTSWW team at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC), New Quay, Ceredigion.

The deadline for this post if noon on the 2nd January and further details can be found on our jobs page.

We are looking for an energetic and outgoing person to join our Living Seas team. You will be responsible for the day to day operation and administration of CBMWC, this will include our Visitor Centre and shop as well as the day to day coordination, inductions and training of volunteers. You will lead the development, coordination and delivery of a programme of inspiring environmental education and community awareness activities linked to our Living Seas work, respond to queries and requests for marine conservation related talks and activities.

If you would like to apply please visit our jobs page.

Nature is Red in Tooth and Claw

Magpie walking along a fence

A piece by Rose Revera, People and Wildlife Officer for WTSWW;

‘Tho Nature’, red in tooth and claw’

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam A. H. H., 1850

In this edition of e-news, I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about a bugbear of mine. Fairly often, I will be talking to someone, or reading an article in a magazine or newspaper, and notice a tendency emerging to favour one species of wildlife over another.

Even wildlife lovers have told me how they don’t like Magpies because they raid other birds’ nests. Magpies and the rest of the corvid family are brilliant birds, no doubt about it. Intelligent, resourceful and stunning to watch, yet often damned for doing what comes naturally to them. Yes, they raid the nests of other birds, but I’m afraid that’s nature for you! It can be hard to watch, but the Magpies are wildlife as well as the small birds they sometimes prey on.

Another example is Badgers. They don’t need any more ammunition against them, yet I have recently read an article claiming that they should be culled because they eat Hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are much loved across the UK as garden visitors, but why do Hedgehogs have more right to life than Badgers, just because they are not top predators?

Worryingly, there is even a ‘wildlife conservation’ charity that lists corvids, Foxes, Badgers, Buzzards and Sparrowhawks, all native wildlife just doing what they should be, as a problem because they can predate on small birds.

There can be a moral dilemma for ecologists in some cases, where human activity has caused an imbalance. For example, a Lapwing breeding site in South Wales was experiencing high levels of predation by gulls due to the presence of a nearby rubbish tip, leading to an artificial boom in the population of gulls. In this case, conservationists made the difficult decision to cull the gulls to correct the imbalance and give the Lapwings a fighting chance.

Now I’m not including non-native species in this argument. In all cases, if the presence of a non-native species in a habitat threatens the health of a population of a native species e.g. in the case of the American Mink and the Water Vole, then all efforts should be made to remove the non-native species from the habitat to prevent the extinction of the native species.

But the biggest challenge we come up against time and time again is humanity’s ability to place ourselves at the top of the pile, above all other species. Beavers were present in the UK up until about 500 years ago when human activity led to their extinction in the UK. We are now trying to right this wrong and re-introduce Beavers to Wales, but when we were out promoting this recently with our Beaver mascot Nora, I had some uncomfortable conversations.

One person told me that they didn’t want Beavers back in Wales because they were a hobby angler and Beavers will be bad for fish stocks. Their main argument was that Beaver dams will block fish passage. While this can occur occasionally, Beavers have an overall positive effect on fish stocks due to increased habitat for spawning, rearing and overwintering, higher invertebrate production and refuges during high water flows [1, 2]. This particular person refused to accept the scientific evidence presented to him. But the main thing that grates on me is that this is an animal that should be present in the British countryside, yet there are people resisting its restoration back to its rightful home because it could occasionally get in the way of their part-time hobby. That’s just not fair.

So to conclude, all native UK species have their place in the habitats of Wales. Losing even one species from a habitat can have a significant effect on the health and ecology of the habitat. We need to remember this and know that however hard it is to watch a predator successfully catch its prey, that’s just nature and without it, the world would not function. Instead, let’s focus on how we can reduce our impact on the environment and make life a bit easier for the wildlife struggling to survive in Wales.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4931505/

[2] http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/commissioned_reports/349.pdf 

Skomer Island Migrants November

Thirteen White-fronted Geese flew over on the 2nd. Numbers of other wildfowl remained low with peak counts of 17 teal (12th and 23rd), twelve Mallard (23rd), four Shoveler (1st) and 25 Common Scoter (8th). Great Northern Divers were recorded on four dates with two on the 3rd. Manx Shearwaters were heard at night over the island right up to the Wardens departure on the 24th. A Little Egret flew over on the 6th. A Little Grebe was present for a single day on the 19th.

Up to two Hen Harriers were present throughout. A Sparrowhawk was recorded on the 8th. Up to three Kestrels and two Merlins were present throughout.

Up to twelve Water Rails were present. Maximum counts of waders include 29 Oystercatchers (14th), 60 Lapwing (23rd), 32 Curlew (4th), 18 Turnstone (23rd), Single Purple Sandpipers (12th and 23rd) and one Redshank in North Haven (14th). The first Woodcock (predated) turned up on the 6th and there were up to two recorded thereafter until the 19th. Up to twelve Snipe were recorded (15th).

Gull numbers peaked at 94 Kittiwakes (23rd), 318 Black-headed Gull (15th), 21 Mediterranean Gulls (3rd), 25 Common Gull (3rd), 15 Lesser Black-backed Gull (12th), 200 Herring Gull (12th) and 79 Great Black-backed Gulls (3rd). At least 2,000 Wood Pigeons passed over on the 6th. A Barn Owl was recorded on four dates and a Little Owl on three dates. Eleven Short-eared Owls were recorded on the 15th and there were ten on the 19th. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were recorded on six dates. A maximum of 17 Chough were recorded (12th).

There were three Goldcrest on the 2nd and 3rd and two Firecrest on the 3rd. Chiffchaffs were recorded throughout with a maximum of five on the 1st. Two Siberian Chiffchaffs were present on the 17th and singles were recorded on the 18th and 19th. There was a Yellow-browed Warbler on the14th and 15th. The last Blackcaps were recorded on the 1st (one) and 3rd (two).

Peak tit counts include four Blue Tit (21st), two Great Tit (3rd) and 38 Long-tailed Tit (2nd).

Skylark passage peaked at 97 on the 15th. Starlings peaked at 4,100 on the 15th. Thrush numbers peaked at 42 Blackbird (2nd), twelve Fieldfare (2nd), 49 Song Thrush (13th), 27 Redwing (2nd) and four Mistle Thrush (3rd). Also on the 2nd, there were 44 Robin, 16 Stonechat and a Siberian Stonechat.

Single Grey Wagtails were recorded on the 1st and 13th. Rock Pipit numbers peaked at 64 on the 23rd.

Finch counts include: 15 Brambling (2nd), 216 Chaffinch (3rd), three Bullfinch (3rd), three Greenfinch (15th), 22 Linnet (13th), single Lesser Redpoll (2nd and 4th), two flyover redpolls (2nd), 20 Goldfinch (2nd) and eight Siskin (14th). There was a Snow Bunting on the 3rd, a Lapland Bunting on the 6th and a maximum of seven Reed Buntings.

Vine House Farm Images

Kingfisher on a snowy branch

Nicholas Watts MBE, the owner of conservation award-winning Vine House Farm in the Lincolnshire Fens, is making his entire wildlife photography library freely available online with all images totally royalty-free. The collection, which totals over 10,000 images, will be released in batches with the first release having already taken place ahead of Christmas. Then throughout 2018 the rest of the collection will be published, with a release scheduled for every month.

The majority of the collection is of birds, with many of the shots taken at Vine House Farm where Nicholas has worked tirelessly for many decades to reverse the trend of farmland bird decline. This work has involved a very wide range of measures, which include hedgerow planting, the creation of numerous ponds, wildflower meadows, sympathetic management of drainage dykes, generous field margins to allow seed-rich weeds to grow, and old farm buildings restored for barn owls to nest in. And despite all of this work and the running of the 2000 plus acre farm and involvement in the bird food business, Nicholas has still been able to pursue a passion for photographing the birds and other wildlife on his farm and beyond.

Nicholas takes up the story and also explains the reason he decided to share his vast library of photographs: “I’ve always taken a very hands-on approach to running my farm and aiming to make a positive difference to the wildlife that we share the land with. This means that much of my time is out in the fields rather than in an office, so taking a camera with me has always seemed the obvious thing to do.  The main reason I wanted my collection of photographs to be freely available to anyone, is that it’s a further practical way I can raise awareness of the importance of farming with wildlife and the environment in mind, plus more specifically the need for action to reverse the trend of declining songbird numbers.  I also hope my work will inspire more people – especially the younger generation – to take up nature photography.”

The first batch of images from Nicholas’ photo collection is available now from The Vine House Farm website.

Skomer’s Migrant Sightings for Nov 2017

two Oystercatchers foraging on Skomer

During November on Skomer Island, a variety of migrant birds were seen and recorded by the island wardens before they left for the winter. Have a look below to see what passed over the island…

Thirteen White-fronted Geese flew over on the 2nd. Numbers of other wildfowl remained low with peak counts of: 17 teal (12th and 23rd), twelve Mallard (23rd), four Shoveler (1st) and 25 Common Scoter (8th). Great Northern Divers were recorded on four dates with two on the 3rd. Manx Shearwaters were heard at night over the island right up to the Wardens departure on the 24th. A Little Egret flew over on the 6th. A Little Grebe was present for a single day on the 19th.

Up to two Hen Harriers were present throughout. A Sparrowhawk was recorded on the 8th. Up to three Kestrels and two Merlins were present throughout.

Up to twelve Water Rails were present. Maximum counts of waders include: 29 Oystercatchers (14th), 60 Lapwing (23rd), 32 Curlew (4th), 18 Turnstone (23rd), Single Purple Sandpipers (12th and 23rd) and one Redshank in North Haven (14th). The first Woodcock (predated) turned up on the 6th and there were up to two recorded thereafter until the 19th. Up to twelve Snipe were recorded (15th).

Gull numbers peaked at: 94 Kittiwakes (23rd), 318 Black-headed Gull (15th), 21 Mediterranean Gulls (3rd), 25 Common Gull (3rd), 15 Lesser Black-backed Gull (12th), 200 Herring Gull (12th) and 79 Great Black-backed Gulls (3rd). At least 2,000 Wood Pigeons passed over on the 6th. A Barn Owl was recorded on four dates and a Little Owl on three dates. Eleven Short-eared Owls were recorded on the 15th and there were ten on the 19th. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were recorded on six dates. A maximum of 17 Chough were recorded (12th).

There were three Goldcrest on the 2nd and 3rd and two Firecrest on the 3rd. Chiffchaffs were recorded throughout with a maximum of five on the 1st. Two Siberian Chiffchaffs were present on the 17th and singles were recorded on the 18th and 19th. There was a Yellow-browed Warbler on the14th and 15th. The last Blackcaps were recorded on the 1st (one) and 3rd (two).

Peak tit counts include: four Blue Tit (21st), two Great Tit (3rd) and 38 Long-tailed Tit (2nd).

Skylark passage peaked at 97 on the 15th. Starlings peaked at 4,100 on the 15th. Thrush numbers peaked at: 42 Blackbird (2nd), twelve Fieldfare (2nd), 49 Song Thrush (13th), 27 Redwing (2nd) and four Mistle Thrush (3rd). Also on the 2nd there were 44 Robin, 16 Stonechat and a Siberian Stonechat.

Single Grey Wagtails were recorded on the 1st and 13th. Rock Pipit numbers peaked at 64 on the 23rd.

Finch counts include: 15 Brambling (2nd), 216 Chaffinch (3rd), three Bullfinch (3rd), three Greenfinch (15th), 22 Linnet (13th), single Lesser Redpoll (2nd and 4th), two flyover redpolls (2nd), 20 Goldfinch (2nd) and eight Siskin (14th). There was a Snow Bunting on the 3rd, a Lapland Bunting on the 6th and a maximum of seven Reed Buntings.

Members of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales receive free landing on Skomer Island!