Author: Rebecca Vincent

Autumn and Halloween Wildlife Events

Autumn Leaves

This autumn we’re donning the wellies and getting outside, and we’re hoping that you will join us.

We’ve got an array of exciting activities to get you giddy about nature and we’ve even throw in some spook-tacular halloween events too.

Here’s what we’ve got going on this autumn and for the October half term…

  • Sat 20th October – Year of the Sea Beach Clean at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre
  • Tuesday 24th October – Bird Walk at Brynna Woods and Lanharan Marsh
  • Tuesday 24th October – Dolphin watch picnic at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre
  • Tuesday 24th October – Shoresearch Survey in Aberystwyth
  • Saturday 27th October – Unknown Wales talks in the National Museum of Wales
  • Saturday 27th October – Craft activities at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Sunday 28th October – Painting activities at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Monday 29th October – Autumn walk with nature crafts at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Monday 29th October – Horrible Halloween pumpkin trail at Parc Slip
  • Tuesday 30th October – Halloween hoot at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Tuesday 30th October – Bat Walk at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Wednesday 31st October – Silent world’s fantastic beasts at The Welsh Wildife Centre
  • Thursday 1st November – Holiday wildlife watch and nut hunt and shelter building at Brynna Woods and Lanharan Marsh
  • Thursday 1st November – Create a colourful wooden owl at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Thursday 1st November – Spooky night-time walk at Parc Slip
  • Friday 2nd November – Pain a 3D wooden bird decoration at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Friday 2nd November – Creepy crafts at Parc Slip
  • Saturday 3rd November – Craft activities at The Welsh Wildlife Centre
  • Saturday 3rd November – wildlife watch at Parc Slip
  • Sunday 4th November – Painting activities ay The Welsh Wildlife Centre

 

To find out more details about any of these events, visit our events page.

 

 

MENNA DID IT! 🙌🏻

Back in July 2018 Menna left her home in Wales to run the full length of Britain to raise funds for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales in memory of her dad.

Well she’s only gone and done it! From John O’Groats to Lands End, after over 1,000 miles she’s shared the experience with us, here’s what she had to say…

As I sit down to write my thoughts on JOGLE.. I still can’t quite believe that my little legs carried me the full length of Britain. 1,070 miles from John O’Groats to Lands End. Who’d have thought that 18mths ago, a dog groomer from Llansadwrn who didn’t even own a pair of running shoes, that it was even possible.

I pushed my body to the limits, running between 26-34 miles a day, faced terrifying traffic on the B roads, got chased by 50 bulls in a field, got drowned by torrential rain, got lost in a quarry and opted to run the scenic route incorporating The West Highland Way, Offa’s Dyke and the Cornish Coastal Paths which certainly added plenty of mileage to my route from top to bottom of Britain… but I wouldn’t have changed a thing! Every day was different and I never quite knew what was ahead of me until I got there.

I have experienced kindness from strangers and met some amazing people along the way. I’m so pleased that I was able to share my journey through Facebook too and I’ve been so surprised at the wonderful response and support that I’ve had which often kept me going on the tougher days. I would like to thank everyone who showed their support, particularly those who dug deep and helped raise £2,120 for the Wildlife Trust. That money will help the charity continue the fantastic work that they do by looking after wildlife and conservation in South and West Wales.

It’s been an immense 6 weeks and crazy as it sounds, I really miss it! The simplicity of life, the freedom I had, the love and support from family friends and strangers. Running has given me so much, JOGLE has given me even more and I have grown in confidence and learnt so much! I did this in Dad’s memory and felt he was with me every step of the way. It was his dream to walk it and then I made it my dream to run it. I know he would have been proud of his little girl as I crossed over the Lands End ‘finish line’.

So now that I have accomplished JOGLE, I’m on to the next challenge… New Zealand 2019 – from top to bottom of both Islands!! Watch this space..

Menna has raised over £2,000 for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and there’s still time to donate before her campaign closes! If you can, please get involved here.

Thank you Menna for your support and being the inspiration that you are! Good luck with your next challenge!

Pass on Something Wonderful – A Legacy Event

Pass on something wonderful…

Without people like you choosing to leave a gift in your Will to us, we may be unable to continue our vital conservation work to protect local wildlife.

Previously we have managed to buy the final piece of Skokholm Island, securing its future for wildlife, because of help from gifts in Wills. We’ve also provided nest boxes for kestrel, protected butterfly habitat and monitored Red Squirrels in mid Wales thanks to gifts in Wills.

Every gift, however large or small, even a 1% share, has a big impact on small, independent charities like us.

Please help us to ensure future generations can enjoy wildlife and wild places just as you have by leaving a gift in your Will.

Lasting Legacies Event

This November we will be hosting a legacy event where you will have the opportunity to hear about how we have used previous legacies, the incredible impact that a legacy can have on our vital work to protect local wildlife and how you can make or amend a Will to include a gift to The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

DATE: Wednesday 7th November

TIME: 10:30am for approx. 2 hours

VENUE: Parc Slip Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre Discovery Room, Fountain Road, Tondu, Bridgend, CF32 0EH

SPEAKERS: Sarah Kessell (CEO of WTSWW), The Trust’s conservationists, a legacy pledger and a solicitor

COST: Free

OTHER DETAILS: Cake and refershments will be available at the event and free parking is provided.

If you would like to attend this event please RSVP to Rebecca Vincent, Legacy Fundraising Officer, via e-mail: r.vincent@outlook.com or call 01656 724100 by Wednesday 24th October.

Dormouse Trainee highs and lows in Halfway Forest

Dormouse Hibernating - Danny Green

It has been an unusual year for Dormice in the forests with long winter and a very dry summer.  Perhaps because of the warm weather we were finding few animals in boxes over the summer and we’re looking forward to our September box check.

As a trainee there is a lot to learn and it’s important to get experience of handling as many adults and young as possible.  We approached the boxes with apprehension this September as we already had to replace a box that had been pulled off the tree in August.

We were saddened and depressed as we walked the grid finding more and more boxes pulled down and couldn’t work out the reason why some had been left.  In all, 8 boxes were removed completely, 1 smashed up and 2 taken down but left on the floor. These both had nests in!

On the up side we found 2 pipistrelle bats in one box and three boxes with adult and young dormice in them – from newborn ‘pinkies’ to wide awake juveniles jumping around.

Although the monitoring site is visible from the footpath there had been little problems since it was set up with 200 boxes in 2005.

If you would like to help the Trust conserve wildlife for future generations to enjoy just as you have, then please, if you can, donate now.

Every donation, no matter it’s size, will go a long way in helping us to protect local wildlife such as these dormice.

Thank you.

 

Skomer Island Migrant Bird Sightings – August 2018

White Wagtail by Ed Stubbings

An account by the Skomer Warden of birds spotted on Skomer Island during August 2018…

Common Scoter were seen on the 4th (20) and 29th (three).

Grey Herons were seen on the 10th, 23rd and 31st.

A juvenile Marsh Harrier arrived on the 26th and remained until the end of the month. A juvenile male Goshawk was first seen on the 15th and was seen on five other dates. Sparrowhawks were seen on seven dates from the 12th. A Kestrel was seen on the 1st and they became more regular after the 14th with four on the 17th.

Water Rails were heard on the 9th and 31st.

The only record of a Lapwing involved a single individual which was struck by a Peregrine in North Haven but not killed. The bird then hid on the beach until it had recovered and was gone a couple of hours later. A Ringed Plover was heard flying over on the 20th. Whimbrels were seen on nine dates with 23 flying west past Pigstone Bay on the 13th and seven flying south west over the Neck on the 17th. The highest count of Curlew was of 13 on the 27th. The first Turnstone of the autumn was seen with four Purple Sandpipers (also the first of the autumn) on South Castle on the 21st and five were seen on North Haven main beach on the 28th. An adult Dunlin flew over Green Pond on the 4th and one was present on North Pond on the 12th. Common Sandpipers were recorded on four dates. A Redshank was heard in North Haven on the 21st. Sixteen Snipe were seen flying over in a flock on the 5th and one was seen on North Pond on the 13th.

Five Sandwich Terns and four Common Terns were seen in St Brides Bay on the 21st. Black-headed Gulls were seen on the 4th (22), 12th (ten) and 16th (five). Two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls were seen on the 7th and there were singles on the 12th and 14th.

A Collared Dove was recorded on the 1st.

Short-eared Owl sighting became very scarce but there were two on the 2nd and 21st as well as singles on five other dates.

Swifts were seen on the 4th (two), 5th (three), 12th (two) and 31st (three).

A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in North Valley on the 31st.

At least one Blue Tit was recorded for most of the month.

Six Sand Martins were recorded on the 13th and there was one on the 31st. The highest count of Swallows was 65 on the 31st. There were six House Martins on the 9th, one at the Farm on the 25th and three on the 31st.

Monthly maxima for warblers include four Chiffchaff on the 28th and 31st, 30 Willow Warbler on the 21st, single Blackcap on the 4th and 6th, seven Whitethroat on the 9th, single Grasshopper Warblers on the 25th and 27th, 30 Sedge Warbler on the 9th and a single Reed Warbler on the 13th.

Starling numbers peaked at 30 on the 5th.

Juvenile Song Thrush and Robin were seen from the first and there were two of the former on the 2nd and nine of the latter on the 31st. Spotted Flycatchers were seen from the 6th (two) and there were four on the 31st. A Pied Flycatcher was also seen at the Farm on the 31st. Four Stonechat were seen on the 31st as well as smaller numbers on other dates. Wheatear numbers peaked at 22 on the 29th.

A Grey Wagtail flew over on the 30th. There was a small arrival of White Wagtails on the 31st with at least five recorded. A Tree Pipit was also recorded on the 31st.

Chris Packham and Iolo Williams in Ystradgynlais

Iolo and Chris with kids at Brecknock Bioblitz

This summer Chris Packham and Iolo Williams dropped by to visit two of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ nature reserves. One was Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay and the other was Cae Lynden Reserve in Brecknockshire.

Here’s what happened with they visited Cae Lynden Reserve…

The trust’s ‘Wild Communities Project’ was honoured to have been chosen as one of Chris Packham’s 50 stops on the Bioblitz. Each Bioblitz aims to record as many species as possible on one site, and Cae Lynden in Ystradgynlais, an urban football pitch turned rare butterfly refuge gained a whopping 260 plus records in just a few short hours.

This was only possible because of everyone from local kids to county recorders giving their time and knowledge for free.

Hedgehog populations have plummeted by a 97% fall since 1950, and in an inspiring speech as he left, Mr Packham said that we cannot wait until that becomes 98%, 99% or they disappear completely. He also spoke of the similar critical decline among British species, from butterflies to birds and why getting young people involved with wildlife is crucial.

Bioblitzers were also treated to the unexpected arrival of Powys born Iolo Williams, supporting the Bioblitz in Wales and boosting the profile of Welsh language speaking during the event.

Iolo chatted in Welsh with Wild Communities Project manager Chris Jones about the reserve’s important Marsh Fritillary Butterfly population and as a further bonus, Darren Rees, a much respected wildlife artist , got the kids involved in making a paper butterfly meadow to highlight the importance of meadows for pollinators.

The Cae Lynden Bioblitz was a triumph of community action for wildlife. The Wild Communities Project could not have gotten as detailed a picture as we did of the variety of wildlife this one tiny reserve supports, without every single person who gave their time.

By Sarah Ogilvie, Publicity Assistant, ‘Wild Communities Project’

Moth & bat night at St. Augustine’s Church, Penarth

Moth by Vaughn

St. Augustine’s Church

In 2015 we were approached by the Friends of St. Augustine’s Church in Penarth in order to carry out an ecological appraisal of the churchyard in order to ascertain what wildlife was present and to advise on how to optimise the churchyard for wildlife and the people of Penarth.

The grade 1 listed church stands in a magnificent position overlooking Cardiff and is surrounded by a churchyard of approximately an acre which is now closed for burials. The churchyard contains areas of rough grassland, meadow habitat, small patches of scrub and mature trees which all offer great potential for wildlife.

Bat Walks at the Church

Since the initial appraisal, we have continued to run occasional walks and talks for the Friends and local people in order to share how wonderful churchyards can be for wildlife if they are not kept too neat and tidy. The latest event we ran was a well-attended bat and moth night on a windy and showery Saturday in September. Despite the less than ideal conditions there was plenty of bat activity (there is an active roost within the church) with both Common and Soprano Pipistrelles actively feeding on the numerous insects which use the churchyard. These insects would not be present in such large numbers if areas of the churchyard weren’t managed with wildlife in mind. The native grasses and flowering plants offer food and shelter for butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, hoverflies and countless others, particularly small flying insects that the pipistrelles rely on. A few Noctule bats were also heard on the detectors feeding on larger insects such as moths that were flying overhead.

It was rather too windy to be ideal conditions for moth trapping, though the mild temperature meant that there were plenty attracted to the trap that could be shown to the attendees in order to convince them not all moths were little brown jobs…

Recordings

Only 16 species were recorded in the 2 hours we were there but some attractive autumnal moths were caught including Brimstones, Angle Shades, Centre-barred Sallow and Large Ranunculus. The most numerous moth species was Square-Spot Rustic whose caterpillars feed on grasses so are only flourishing due to the areas that are being left uncut for the summer. Hopefully we will continue to visit the churchyard, gathering more information on species that are inhabiting it and are benefitting from the sympathetic management that the Friends are carrying out.

If you would like to attend our next bat walk or would like to see what other events we’re holding, you can find them all on our event’s page.

Christmas Already! – at WWC

Welsh Wildlife Centre

Now you may be thinking that it’s a touch to early to be thinking about Christmas already!

But we’ve got an ongoing event that you’re not going to want to miss out on…

From Saturday 24th November to Thursday 20th December we’re offering Christmas lunches!

Join us in our award winning building with great views out over the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve.

Booking is essential and food is served between 12pm and 2:30pm. All the food is prepared fresh in our own kitchen and menu choices are required two weeks in advance. We can cater for party sizes up to 50 and the cafe is fully licensed. We stock a range of wines, bottled beers and ciders.

We’re happy to discuss any special requirements you may have and we’ll try our best to tailor the menu to meet your party needs. Many of our dishes are naturally gluten-free, but please enquire at the time of booking about any dietry needs.

The Menu

Starters

Smoked salmon cheesecake served with fresh salad leaves, pickled cucumber and a citrus dressing

Roasted sweet pepper soup with a hint of smoked paprika served with a bread roll (vegan)

Roasted pear and Perl Las tartlets served with a baby leaf salad and balsamic dressing

Main Courses

Traditional roast Pembrokeshire turkey with all of its seasonal trimmings

Pan fried breast of guinea fowl served with the confit of its leg and pan gravy

Roasted loin of pork crusted with honey and Middle Eastern spices served with an apricot and brandy sauce

Roasted wild mushroom and spinach wrap served with a tahini stroganoff sauce (vegan)

All served with the Chef’s selection of roast potatoes and vegetables

Desserts

Traditional homemade Christmas pudding with brandy sauce

Raspberry delice – layers of sponge and raspberry mousse topped with fresh berries

Sticky toffee date pudding with soya cream (vegan)

 

Booking

To book your Christmas party or for further information please call 01239 621 600 or e-mail m.hodgson@welshwildlife.org

 

Wriggly, Wiggly Great Crested Newts

Great Crested Newt at Prior's Wood

Lucky happenstance

What’s that there wriggling in the bottom of the hole? As part of making improvements to the fencing around the meadow at Prior’s Nature Reserve, Three Crosses, Gower, we found a first for the site. Two great crested newts were found wriggling at the bottom of a hole made for installing new gate posts to keep the winter grazing ponies in the meadow.

Pitfall Traps for Surveying

The extreme heat at the time, meant that work was slow and only one post of each gate was installed that day. The hole left by the second post acted like a pitfall trap used in surveying. During official surveying, pitfall traps would be covered when not in use, which is possible as the hole is filled by a bucket whose lid can be firmly closed, our holes had uneven surrounding ground making that impossible.

A Close Call

When we came back to finish the job a couple of days later it had just rained, making migration for amphibians easier, and filling the hole with a bit of water obscuring the bottom. About to dig the hole to finish the job, Huw our regular long time volunteer saw a wriggle. What we fished out were two adult great crested newts, one fully grown female and after another thorough rummage, turned up a young adult male not quite grown to his full size as he’s still smaller than the female, but already with the distinctive white flash on his tail and crest lying flat along his back whilst out of water.

The Great (Crested Newt)  Escape

Safely rescued and helped on their way the two newts made good their escape into nearby vegetation. Fantastic find! Though the new gate installation was only stage one of planned track and drainage improvements to the gateways. These were made possible by the Wild Woodlands project funded by WREN, a not-for-profit business that awards grants to community projects from funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund.

Planning for Further Work Without Disturbing Newts

These further improvements will now have to be put on hold until a licence is obtained to work safely in that area, causing minimal damage to newts and their habitat. The Wildlife Trust is now working with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) to have licenced surveyors collect records and plan appropriate management for the future works.

The Knock-on Effect

The closest record of great crested newts is 5 miles west, but now other nearby ponds may also be suitable or already inhabited, perhaps nearby Gelli Hir Nature Reserve. Further investigation is certainly warranted and also possible now our relevant staff are named on surveying licences, so who knows how many we will find or where next!


A Poem by Huw Evans, 2018

Prior’s Wood

We saw each a great crested newt

A spot, Tara’s identification could not refute.

Their bright under-bellies, flickered through leaves

Scraped by our wellies.

One most likely a two-year old male

The distinctive crest running from head to tail.

The other, female a beautiful specimen-

Making off under a hedge-

When gone from sight, remained the privilege.

Both discovered in a water-filled hole

Almost damaged as we explored with a pole.

But once within our reach-

Providing a lesson only Nature could teach.

Revealing themselves

As into the Soul one delves.

In waiting perhaps to hibernate-

When temperatures drop below 5 degrees centigrade.

Yes, a first time record for the area:

Requiring a fully-licensed handler.

Improved access at Llangloffan Fen

Llangloffan Fen

Llangloffan Fen nature reserve is a popular site located just east of Mathry, near Castlemorris in Pembrokeshire. The reserve has benefitted in recent years from receiving funding for a variety of habitat projects that have gone some way to enhance the features of the site. With the conservation of species and habitats actively progressed here, other features such as footpaths and reserve infrastructure are in need of some work.

This summer we have been fortunate to receive further funding from Natural Resources Wales to replace a 50m section of boardwalk that was installed some 12 years ago. It was in a state of disrepair and regular volunteer work parties were spent patching it up.

I am pleased to say that the boardwalk has now been completed and circular access on the reserve is now once again possible. This new structure, as with all new boardwalks erected on Wildlife Trust reserves in Pembrokeshire is made from recycled plastic with timber decking. This ensures that the structure will last indefinitely as opposed to using timber which rots and degrades much quicker, especially in wetland environments. Although the cost of doing this is some three times more than timber, it is a cost worth taking.

The reserve is popular with locals and tourists alike. A new interpretation panel has also been installed along with signage aimed at keeping dogs on leads at all times. The issue of dogs off leads is the bane of every nature reserve manager and one that without proper enforcement is sadly not going to go away. New signage hopes to educate dog walkers about the fact the site is a nature reserve and here to protect rare and vulnerable plant and animal populations.


Nathan Walton, Wildlife Trust Officer for Pembrokeshire

Author and Photographer’s Wildlife Talk

Beaver

David Bailey is a wildlife photographer and author who, over the past year, has been working with us on our Welsh Beaver Project to bring European Beavers (Castor fiber) back into Wales where they rightly belong.

Beavers have been exctinct in Wales for around 600 years due to hunting. A successful reintroduction of these beautiful creatures took place in Scotland and we would like to replicate this in Wales. There are a substancial amount of benefits to having Beavers as part of our ecosystem. Many of the negative thoughts sourrounding a reintroduction of Beavers are myths. An example of this would be that they’ll deplete thriving fishing grounds – but don’t worry, Beaver’s don’t eat fish.

On Sunday 9th December, David will be giving a wildlife talk at Llangorse Multi Activity Centre to help raise money for our Welsh Beaver Project. The proceeds from ticket sales will go to the project.

Tickets are £10 and include a light lunch. Limited tickets are available and booking is required. Please contact Llangors Multi Activity Centre via 01874 658272 to book in advance.

David Bailey Wildlife Talk Poster

Butterfly Surveys in Ceredigion

Marsh Fritillary - Amy Lewis

The Wildlife Trust team in Ceredigion have been busy over the past month surveying Marsh Fritillaries on our nature reserves. Em Foot, our Wildlife Trust Office for Ceredigion has given us an update on the tasks of the month…

An update from Ceredigion

The year marches on…

Surveying

We continued with our Marsh Fritillary larval web surveys on our rhos pastures this month. We found an amazing 818 webs on our Rhos Glyn yr Helyg transects!! A new record for the reserve! We also found 14 webs on Rhos Fullbrook, 1 on Rhos Pil Bach (this was great news after many years of not finding any) and 2 were found on Rhos Marion where the scabious was looking fabulous (as reported by Geoff, the reserve warden). So a good year!

Maintenance

We discovered a broken fence and fallen branches at Rhos Pil Bach while we were surveying so we mended them to prevent the cattle that graze the reserve escaping.

We’ve started our autumn/winter work now too! (Reflecting the weather for much of the month!) We’ve cut the glade at Coed Penglanowen: an annual task, and the entrance track at Rhos Marion, clearing fallen branches as we went along.

We’ll be continuing with similar jobs in the next few months.

Thanks to Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales are very grateful to the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery who have made all this work possible.
Peoples postcode lottery logo

Get Involved

If you’d like to join our work parties, get fit and meet new people, e-mail Em. Or visit our webpages about volunteering, donating, becoming a member and leaving a legacy.