Author: Rebecca Vincent

Bioblitz at CBMWC

BioBlitz NQ H 2018

For ten days in July, Chris Packham and his team of experts visited 50 wildlife sites as part of his UK Bioblitz, and the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the sites.

As Chris said  “The UK is home to remarkable and beautiful wildlife and some wonderful habitats but it’s also in big trouble, and in the case of some species this means we are fast approaching the last chance to make a difference.

The Bioblitz campaign has a scientific purpose. The results of this 2018 audit will be recorded to create a benchmark, this will help measure the rise and fall in numbers of different species in the future”.

The bioblitz at CBMWC ran from 7 am to 11 pm on Saturday 21st July and recorded a range of marine and coastal species. Chris Packham and his Campaign team arrived at 7.45 am on Saturday, along with surprise guest Iolo Williams, who joined the team for the Welsh leg of the bioblitz. They took a boat trip with our partners Dolphin Survey Boat trips and added porpoise, bottle nose dolphins and manx shearwaters to the species list for the day.  They then spent time chatting with volunteers and visitors on the harbour wall, and inspected some of the moths collected by the Ceredigion Moth group.

Chris and Iolo left for their next site at around 10am, and we continued with our full programme of public activities, led by staff, volunteers, and a range of species experts and partner organisations, including Bee Conservation Trust, the Vincent Wildlife Trust, and North Ceredigion bat group. Staff from the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre were on hand to collate and check records, and provide regular updates on species totals. There were rock-pooling sessions, a strandline safari, and recording sessions for everything from birds to bees to Foraminifera (single cell organisms), and the grand finale a “Going Batty on the Beach” bat walk. One of the highlights was the visiting team of Seasearch divers who recorded marine species beyond the harbour wall, including a juvenile cuttlefish.

We recorded 216 species on the day, with more records still coming in from our team of local experts and county recorders.  We also recorded an amazing 402 visitors, who took part in guided walks and activities, looked around our Visitor Centre, and assisted our research volunteers with surveys from the harbour wall.

The Chris Packham’s UK bioblitz team are raising money through a crowdfunding page and finds raised will be split between The National Autistic Society and the 50 bioblitz sites he visited. To donate to the campaign, visit the Just Giving page.

Gelli Hir – A Woodland Haven for Wildlife & the Community: Transition into Spring

Last time I wrote about this project funded by Enovert Community Trust (formerly Cory Environmental Trust in Britain) we had just spent a very wet early January upgrading one of the footpaths making the reserve more accessible. As bird nesting season approached with the coming spring we turned our focus to finishing the habitat works. Through February we held five community coppicing days where WTSWW volunteers, members of the local community and participants from the Actif Woods project (which addresses mental and physical well-being) came together to cut this year’s coppice coup. Coppice materials were cut, gathered and sorted –  hazel rods were taken to the Cardiff RHS show to build the low woven fences for the WTSWW show garden, the cordwood has been extracted and we have so far had two charcoal burns to supply customers with our Gower Charcoal this summer.

In order to encourage people to linger and enjoy the benefits of being in a woodland environment, we have installed five benches. These were made and installed by volunteers who also chose the locations. They gave thought to making the most of different aspects of the reserve.

As the path settled in it became apparent it needed a little more surfacing material. Unfortunately the project budget allocated to this had all been spent so we are very grateful to Selwyn’s Seaweed Ltd (who have a shellfish processing plant on North Gower) for the donation of two trailer loads of cockle shells. These were barrowed out by volunteers.

In early May we took the opportunity to lead a walk for the WTSWW Swansea local group around the reserve to show off our hard work. Spending time in the woods meeting more of the reserve users has given us the opportunity to collect feedback regarding the changes we have been making. I’m pleased to say that it has all been very positive and it has also been nice to be able to explain to people the reasons for the coppicing, thinning and other habitat work we carry out continually. More recently we lead two “wildlife & wellbeing walks” one for Killay library Walking Group and one as part of the Gower Walking Festival.

It had always been part of the plan to erect a forestry barn as part of the project. The build happened in mid-June. Discretely tucked away beneath the trees and constructed by staff and volunteers it should prove an asset to our activities.

Thanks to all those involved in volunteering for their efforts, the reserve users for the feedback, to Enovert Community Trust for the funding and to Selwyn’s for the donation of cockle shells.

For more information contact Paul

-Paul Thornton

Gelli Hir Volunteers and their work

Living Seas Wales Makes a Splash at Volvo Ocean Race!

7D Augmented Reality Experience at Volvo Ocean Race

The Wildlife Trusts Living Seas Wales (LSW) team have made a big splash at the Volvo Ocean Race, Cardiff. The LSW team launched  their new Living Seas Wales project and exciting ‘Sea Wales’ 7D augmented reality experience featuring Dolphins, Porpoise, Puffins, Seals and a surprise wildlife encounter!

First to try the new experience and get up close to the pod of Bottlenose Dolphins was Lord Elis-Thomas, Tourism Minister and Elin Haf Davies, Visit Wales’ Year of the Sea Ambassador.

Lord Elis-Thomas said: “The increase in use of technology such as virtual reality presents many opportunities for tourism businesses in Wales and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support the innovative Sea Wales project – which is an excellent way to promote our fantastic coastline during Year of the Sea 2018.   When trying to entice someone to Wales and selling the concept of what a holiday in Wales could be like – virtual reality is a perfect way of bringing those possible experiences to life.  Seeing and virtually experiencing a destination leaves a  lasting impression which possibly stays in the mind for longer  than looking at a website,  brochure or advert. I hope that many visitors to the Volvo Ocean Race will get a chance to experience ‘Sea Wales’ – which will inspire them to discover more of Wales’ epic shores.”

Living Seas is The Wildlife Trusts’ vision for the future of UKs seas. The Living Seas Wales project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will provide participants with opportunities to learn about, enjoy and contribute to the conservation of the marine environment.

Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manager for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said, “Following the success of our award-winning virtual reality wildlife experiences ‘Dolphin Dive’ and ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’ we are once again delighted to receive support from the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund (TPIF) for the Sea Wales 7D experience software development. Sea Wales will showcase our iconic marine wildlife using the very latest in 7D augmented reality technology and CGI animation. This unique mobile experience will inspire people of all ages to explore our wonderful Welsh wild places, connect with nature and have a memorable wildlife adventures in Wales”.

Sea Wales 7D will form part of the Living Sea Wales roadshow promoting our Welsh wildlife and related coastal experiences to both domestic and national visitors over the next 3 years. Check out the Living Seas Wales project website for the 2018 roadshow events list and to find out how you can get involved with the project and work of the Wildlife Trusts.

Funding for the Living Seas Wales project was raised by National Lottery players, the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund and Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Unknown Wales 2018

Trevor Thobald at Unknown Wales Conference 2011

Following on from the success of last year’s Unknown Wales event, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) and the National Museum Wales (NMW) will be holding the Unknown Wales Conference again in 2018.

Over 200 delegates attended the 2017 event, dedicated to celebrating Welsh Wildlife and encouraging people to enjoy nature.

This year’s Unknown Wales Conference will take place on Saturday the 27th October at the National Museum Wales from 10.00am until 4.00pm and is free to all. The talks and presentations will cover a host of wildlife in Wales.

For further information about the event please contact the Trust via 01656 724100 or Or if you would like to book your space at the event please use the link below.

Booking Form for Unknown Wales 2018

May into June in Ceredigion

Here’s an update from our conservation officer, Em Foot, based in Ceredigion;

It has been a pleasure to have some sunny, dry weather!

We continued removing young willows from another of the meadows at Rhos Pil Bach- more treepopping!

Rhos Glandenys had been quite badly affected by the winter storms so we had a lot of fallen trees and branches to clear off the grassland. We put in a short section of fence too to stop the horses escaping!

At Coed Maidie B Goddard we had to mend a stile and clear some of the paths of overgrown vegetation.

There were various jobs for us at Cwm Clettwr- new non-slip wire on the bridge (it is being used a lot!), fallen trees, broken signs…

We’ve cut the cliff top path at Penderi Cliffs, making it easier to access the wonderful hanging oak woodland.

This year’s bracken bashing and path clearance has started at Coed Simdde Lwyd but we’ll be back a few more times yet!

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.

If you’d like to join our work parties, get fit and meet new people, contact Em:

PPL Logo

Skomer Island Migrant Birds Spotted in May

Snowy Owl on Skomer Island in May 2018

Skomer Island May 2018

Six Common Scoter were seen off the Mew Stone on the 31st. A Little Egret was in North Valley on the 27th. Two Spoonbills flew east along the north coast of Skomer at 08:00 on the 19th, then flew off the island and north over St Brides Bay. A single bird was then seen flying south at 16:00 on the same day.

A Black Kite was seen over the middle of the island on the 14th before flying off to the east. Red Kites were seen on the 6th (four), 13th (ten), 11th (two) and 19th (four). A single Sparrowhawk was seen on the 14th.

Water Rails were heard singing up to the 29th. Three Golden Plovers were seen on the 5th and a Ringed Plover was seen flying north over the centre of the island on the 19th. There were 82 records of Whimbrel with 15 on the 18th. A Black-tailed Godwit was present on North Pond from the 4th to the 19th and was joined by a second bird from the 17th. Single turnstones were recorded flying over the island on the 18th and 20th. Nine Dunlin flew over the Farm on the 16th and there were singles on four other dates. A Common Sandpiper was seen on the 2nd.

An adult pale phase Pomarine Skua with spoons headed west past Skomer Head on the 17th. A flock of 19 Collared Doves were briefly present at the Farm on the 6th and there were eight on the 19th. A Cuckoo was heard at North Valley Crossing on the 26th. A female Snowy Owl was found at Pigstone Bay on the 30th. Twenty Swifts passed over on the 18th and there were ten on the 11th and 24th. An Alpine Swift spent the afternoon touring the North Coast of Skomer on the 19th. There were eight Kestrel sightings and up to twelve of Merlin throughout the month.

Hirundine passage peaked at 121 Sand Martin on the 5th, 309 Swallow on the 18th and 75 House Martin on the 18th. Goldcrests were seen on the 1st (one), 2nd (two) and 3rd (one). There were 15 Chiffchaff on the 12th and 20th and 15 Willow Warbler on the 3rd. ‘Northern’ Willow Warblers were recorded on the 3rd, 4th and 27th. Garden Warblers were recorded on three dates with singles on the 13th and 16th and two on the 27th. Reed Warblers were seen on seven dates with two on the 21st. A Subalpine Warbler was trapped and ringed on the 20th. The first Spotted Flycatcher was seen on the 5th and there were 20 on the 27th. Female Black Redstarts were seen at the Farm between the 15th and 19th and again between the 27th and 28th. A male Common Redstarts was seen at the Farm on the 4th and there were two the next day. A Male Whinchat was seen just west of the Farm on the 18th. Greenland Wheatears were recorded on the 18th, 23rd and 27th. A White Wagtail was seen in North Haven on the 12th and a Tree Pipit was in North Valley on the 31st.

Lesser Redpolls were seen on the 7th (two), 18th (five), 19th (two) and 21st (one). There were also two Redpoll sp. on the 5th. A Siskin was seen with Goldfinches at the Farm on the 28th.

Risso’s Dolphins were seen on the 8th (three), 9th (twelve), 28th (four) and 31st (eight).

Find our more about Skomer Island and it’s wildlife.

Beat the Balsam Challenge

Challenge yourself to help Wildlife Trust eradicate balsam!

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales have been tackling Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera, a non-native invasive species. Introduced to Kew gardens London in 1839 as an exotic flower, balsam was then spread as a colourful garden species particularly for wet areas. It is also known as Indian balsam, Policeman’s Helmet, Bobby Tops, Nuns, Gnome’s Hatstand, Kiss-me-on-the-mountain and Jumping Jack.

Although an annual, this pretty yet ecologically damaging flower grows up to 3metres/10feet in only one spring and summer season. It also has the ability to fling as many as 800 seeds up to 4 metres/13feet from each plant. As opposed to native plants which tend to either grow quickly to a short height, or tall slowly. The seeds also float very well, so spread rapidly down water courses. Therefore if not controlled and eradicated, balsam quickly spreads to out-compete our native wildflowers by shading and stealing nutrients. Himalayan balsam also has attractive flowers that likely distract pollinating insects from fertilizing our declining native wild flowers. Furthermore, since Himalayan balsam is non-native from a distance region of the globe, there are no natural ‘predators’. This leaves balsam mostly untouched by herbivorous mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates alike. Allowing balsam uninhibited growth and colonisation.

As part of 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, the Wildlife Trust is fighting to get the upper hand against invasive species on their reserves, amongst others Himalayan balsam.

In Gelli Hir, a reserve on Gower near Three Crosses, there has been a consistant effort over several years by a dedicated team of volunteers to beat balsam. For this site, many affected areas are difficult to access. Plants are between trees, in bramble thickets and in wet/boggy ground. Yet, fear not, it is easy to pull! The most effective way to clear balsam is to pull it up by the roots and leave it to rot down in heaps or builders sacks strategically placed for access and to prevent further spread. Alternatively once pulled, the bottom node (fat join part) should be squished, plants can then be hung up in trees so the roots dry out, cannot touch the ground, or any moisture giving branch to regrow.

Last summer, volunteers have made giant leaps forward in clearing the entire area from the stream’s entrance to the reserve (where the balsam enters) all the way down to the pond. Even making a trip out to the island to pull each and every plant they could find. Another member of Wildlife Trust staff Rebecca Killa, recently visited Gelli Hir. Rebecca used to work on this reserve and started the balsam effort there, said

“I’m amazed at the progress and to see it so clear”.

However, this is not enough! Not only do efforts need to keep up to fully eradicate the quickly regenerating invasive plant, but we challenge you to help us make this the most effective year so far! Last year 3 tonnes were collected, bagged and left to rot down. Can you help us collect more? So close to achieving a significant long lasting effect, the Wildlife Trust need your help to fully get rid of balsam for good! Please join the Wildlife Trust to volunteer.

The next stage this year is pulling any plants that were previously hidden or missed, any that are residing dormant in the seed bank and any new influx from the stream, hopefully restricted close to the bank sides. To help make a difference with this and other important conservation work, please volunteer, or if you are unable to come out on volunteer work parties, please support the Trust by joining as a much needed member or by leaving a lasting legacy so that we may continue our vital work.

Thank you.

The Benefits of Nature

Chaffinch sitting on Orange Blossom

Phil Pickin from Vine House Farm has written a lovely blog post about the benefits of nature;

Each of us has our own reasons for being interested in nature, and birds in particular. For some people the reasons are scientific, recording spring migrants and the numbers of any given species visiting the garden. For others there is twitching, and getting as many ‘ticks’ on any one of a number of different lists covering lifers, annuals or county rarities. But for many, the desire to feed and see the birds is for no other reason than for the enjoyment of doing so, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

At this time of year, an additional incentive could well present itself, the wish to help next years birds get a good start in life. With fledglings appearing from nest boxes in ever-increasing numbers over the coming weeks, we can feel some degree of pride knowing we’ve maybe provided the nest box and the food the birds are eating.

What we need to do is to try to impart some of that enthusiasm and pride into the next generation of birders and nature lovers, and there are few better opportunities to do this than to show youngsters how to feed birds, what birds like to eat and, if possible, show them the fledglings if they appear in the garden. The younger we kick-start their interest the better, before it’s no longer ‘cool’ to be interested in wildlife.

But there are other benefits available to those of us who may need support and help from time to time. Thankfully the world is becoming more and more accepting of people who take the brave step and admit that they have mental health problems. We still have a long way to go, but the stigma attached to an admission like that is reducing, and about time too! With this higher profile has come research into the benefits of many different types of treatment, including the improvements noticed by those who engage with nature.

A large number of studies have been carried out, and they have found that the more we spend time in and surround ourselves with, the natural world the better it is for our general and our mental health. Even if we don’t suffer from any form of mental illness spending time in and around nature is beneficial, and that highlights something in itself. If being in touch with the natural world, taking time out to appreciate it and connecting with it in some way, helps us feel good, could it be that this urge or desire to spend time closer to animals, birds, trees and plants is more primaeval than we thought? Is it that by satisfying this need that improves our health without us even realising it?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I’m sure, over the years to come, more and more research will be carried out, and maybe some of these questions will be answered. Until then I think we can all benefit from getting closer to the species we share the planet with. And if like me, you are naturally drawn towards the enjoyment of watching birds, then the act of feeding them and looking after, in some small way, the ones that visit our gardens etc then we’ve found the reason we are ‘bothering’. And as is often the case in nature, it gives something back to us in the form of enjoyment and all of the linked benefits to our own mental and physical health.

© Phil Pickin

If you’re in need of some more bird feed and would like to help The Wildlife Trust at the same time, head over to Vine House Farm, where 5% of their sales is donated to the Trust!

Why do Red Squirrels wag their tails?

Red Squirrel eating by Elliot Smith

A squirrel’s bushy tail serves many functions, from helping to keep warm like a blanket in winter or cool as it shades its head in the summer.  The tail also helps with balance as the squirrel climbs and jumps. When sitting still, however, tail wagging indicates that the squirrel is trying to communicate.

Squirrels tend to wag their tails when they are startled or alarmed.  This signals to other squirrels, letting them know to be on their guard and look out for trouble. Tail wags also let other squirrels know if they’ve encroached on another’s  territory. Territorial tail wagging could be followed by a squirrel fluffing up his tail — that signals aggression.

When squirrels find food such as nuts or seeds, some will be eaten immediately, and some stored away for the cold winter months. Either way, they don’t want other squirrels encroaching on their food sources. As they gather food, they often stop and wag their tails at other squirrels to warn them away.

During the breeding season, squirrels communicate in part by using their tails. When a male squirrel sees a female, tail waving helps to gain her attention.  If she likes his ‘tail dance’, she might decide to mate with him.

Help to support our work with Red Squirrels by adopting one today.


Pam mae Gwiwerod Coch yn Siglo’u Cynffonnau?

Mae cynffon drwchus y wiwer yn ddefnyddiol am sawl rheswm, o fod fel blanced i gadw’n gynnes yn y gaeaf neu i gysgodi’r pen rhag gwres yr haf.  Mae’r gynffon hefyd yn help i gadw cydbwysedd wrth i’r wiwer ddringo a neidio. Pan fydd yn eistedd yn llonydd, fodd bynnag, mae siglo’r gynffon yn dangos fod y wiwer yn ceisio cyfathrebu.

Mae gwiwerod yn tueddu i siglo’u cynffonau pan fyddant wedi cael braw.  Bydd hyn yn arwydd i wiwerod eraill i fod ar eu gwyliadwriaeth. Bydd gwiwer yn siglo’i chynffon, hefyd, i roi gwybod i wiwerod eraill os ydynt yn tresmasu ar ei thiriogaeth. Pan fydd gwiwer yn ffluwchio’i chynffon, mae’n ymddwyn yn ymosodol.

Pan fydd gwiwerod yn dod o hyd i fwyd fel cnau neu hadau, bydd peth yn cael ei fwyta ar unwaith, a bydd y gweddill yn cael ei roi i gadw ar gyfer misoedd oer y gaeaf. Y naill ffordd neu’r llall, dydyn nhw ddim eisiau i wiwerod eraill ymyrryd â’u ffynonellau bwyd. Wrth iddynt gasglu bwyd, byddant  yn aml yn stopio a siglo’u cynffonnau ar wiwerod eraill i’w rhybuddio i gadw i ffwrdd.

Yn ystod y tymor bridio, bydd gwiwerod yn cyfathrebu’n rhannol trwy ddefnyddio eu cynffonnau.  Pan fydd gwiwer wryw yn weld un fenyw, bydd siglo cynffon yn help i ddenu ei sylw.  Os yw’r fenyw’n hoffi ‘ dawns y gynffon’, mae’n bosibl y bydd yn fodlon paru.

Stars back national nature challenge 30 Days Wild

30 days wild

50,000 people – and rising – sign up to go wild in June

Naturalists, TV presenters and authors are backing The Wildlife Trusts’ national nature challenge to do something ‘wild’ every day during June. Author Abi Elphinstone, TV presenter Gillian Burke and chart-topping James McVey from The Vamps have all put their weight behind the campaign to reconnect people with wildlife in a fun and inspirational way. 50,000 people, schools and workplaces have signed up to 30 Days Wild which starts on Friday June 1st.  Sign-ups are rising, and we hope to beat last year when an estimated 250,000 took part.

Gillian Burke, TV presenter, biologist and Springwatch presenter, is supporting 30 Days Wild. Will she dance in a downpour as one of her Random Act of Wildness?
Gillian says: “Try 30 Random Acts of Wildness in 30 Days!  I’d love people to connect with the wildlife around them – I think lots of people don’t know how to do it… this is the perfect way to start and discover how you can make a difference. Where will your wild adventure take you? I might dance in a downpour!”

30 Days Wild encourages people to notice nature on their doorsteps every single day and gives them a multitude of exciting and fun ways of doing it.

Kate Humble, TV presenter, wildlife, nature and science programmes says:
“I have got a challenge, I want you – throughout the month of June – to go outside every day! That’s 30 whole days going outside. Why wouldn’t you?  Just go wild in June!”

Research shows taking part in 30 Days Wild improves health and happiness and encourages people to do something to help wildlife.

Nick Baker, naturalist and television presenter says:
“Ever since I was a small boy I’ve been fascinated by wildlife and the natural world. It’s so important for us all to have regular contact with nature – I know it makes me feel happier and healthier. Taking the 30 Days Wild challenge is a brilliant way to reconnect with your own wild side – so why not get out and go wild this June?”

Abi Elphinstone, author of the bestselling children’s novel SKY SONG, spent her childhood building dens and running wild across highland glens. She says:
“My siblings and I used to camp under the stars up the glen, fish our pond for giant beetles and scramble over the moors in search of hidden waterfalls – and I believe the reason I am a writer is because the wilderness I explored as a child made me one. Every child should have the chance to go ‘wild’, which is why I’m supporting 30 Days Wild. Connect with the wild world around you and have an adventure.”

Levison Wood, Explorer, writer, photographer and TV presenter says: 

“Basically, go outside, get stuck in, and do 30 Days of random acts of wildness! It can be anything from reading your favourite nature book, planting a tree, building an insect hotel, whatever takes your fancy. Please go and get stuck in – you can download your wildlife pack free; sign up!”

Sophie Pavelle, Zoologist and science communicator says:

“30 Days Wild is a fantastic excuse for us to do what I think deep down we all instinctively love and need – to spend time outside, amongst nature and the wildlife around us. Some of the best ‘wild’ things to do are free, on your doorstep and so much fun! And once you’ve started doing wild things, like dusk walks or mini bioblitzes around your local area – it’s totally addictive. I dare you not to love 30 Days Wild and want to continue it every day.”

James McVey, writer and guitarist in The Vamps says:

“I’m supporting The Wildlife Trusts’ national challenge of spending 30 Days Wild –  every day in June they are asking you guys to do something wild. Now – that could be going camping somewhere if you’ve never been camping, it could be doing an off-road trail, climbing a massive hill that you’ve always wanted to do but never done – but it could also be something as simple as recycling if you’ve never recycled before or buying a reusable water bottle.”

New research

New research shows that 30 Days Wild is unique in improving people’s perception of beauty in nature, and that noticing natural beauty makes people happier and want to care for it.

Dr Miles Richardson, Director of Psychology, University of Derby* explains:

“Over the past three years we’ve repeatedly found that taking part in 30 Days Wild improves health, happiness, nature connection and conservation behaviours. Now we’ve discovered that engagement with the beauty of nature is part of that story.

“Tuning-in to the everyday beauty of nature becomes part of a journey which connects us more deeply to the natural world. As people’s appreciation of natural beauty increases, so does their happiness.  We respond to beauty – it restores us and balances our emotions. This, in turn, encourages people to do more to help wildlife and take action for nature.”

30 Days Wild is encouraging people to make their neighbourhoods wilder and green- up their streets, to help wildlife and to share the joy of nature.

Lucy McRobert, Campaigns Manager for The Wildlife Trusts says:

“30 Days Wild is a lovely way to get closer to nature and marvel at the everyday wildlife that lives all around you. Sit quietly and enjoy watching dragonflies dance over a pond or take a moment to sow a window-box of wildflowers to help bees. Get together with your neighbours to create hedgehog highways or sow front-garden meadows along the length of your street. No matter how small the action, it all counts!”

30 Days Wild pack

Sign-up to 30 Days Wild and you’ll get a free pack with a booklet of inspirational ideas for Random Acts of Wildness, a recipe for wild strawberry and thyme ice cream, wildflower seeded paper to sow, a wall chart to record your activities and wild stickers. There are special packs for schools with outdoor lesson plans and giant Random Acts of Wildness cards. Workplaces can join in too, with tailored download packs to bring the ‘wild’ to work.

Around the Reserves

When you visit our reserves you tell us, friends and family about the the things you see and the fascinating lives revealed. But you also talk about much more. When we connect with nature we experience wonder, curiosity, excitement and calmness. Sometimes all at the same time. Writing, whether its poetry or prose is a way of exploring and sharing the feelings that make us part of nature. We are beginning a series that tries to capture these. Over the next year we will include in each newsletter a short piece written by Rob Pickford prompted by his visit to a reserve. The first of these is about Dowrog Common, near St Davids Pembrokeshire, an extensive tract of wet and dry heath with pools and fen in the upper reaches of the River Alun.

Dowrog Common

I met a man on Dowrog Common,
his coat of grey, his hat of felt.
His eyes were blue,
his look so very far away.

Each day his camera caught
the heron’s stuttering flight,
the sight of Commas on the wing
and the nightly trot of fox.

He taught me
where the linnet perch and sing,
what lives within the pools
of dug out clay
and how the squatter’s house
was built in just one day.

I often rush in haste past that same moor,
our car packed tight
with children clutching spades.
Sometimes I catch a glimpse,
of his tall shape and
promise, when I’m free,
to pause again
to look, but this time stay.