Sunday, 19 June 2016

Walking the Lleyn Coast Path

Spring Squill on the cliff edge
May and June are great months to walk along the Lleyn coast. In May, slopes and streamsides the sheep can’t reach are carpeted with primroses, thrift and spring squill. Scrubby patches and gorse along the cliff edges are good for breeding whitethroats and stonechats, while the short well-grazed turf attracts migrant wheatears and feeding choughs. Other migrant birds along the coast include whimbrel on their way to Iceland or NW Russia (we saw 115 between Porth Ysgaden and Porth Dinllaen on May 8th) and noisy Sandwich terns fishing close in. And when the sun comes out so do the butterflies – wall browns, small heaths and common blues.

Ynys Enlli from the tip of Lleyn
Our longest stretch so far this year was 10 miles from Porth Oer (Whistling Sands) to Aberdaron, right round the headland facing Ynys Enlli (Bardsey). We sat and ate lunch looking across to Bardsey, a sort of funny reverse experience for us!

Llyn Coastal Bus
One problem facing the coastal walker is how to get back to where you started – unless you are carrying a tent, of course. Walking the Lleyn Coastal Path in stages is much easier this year because of a special Minibus service for walkers. On four days each week until the end of October, a minibus runs every two hours from Abersoch to Aberdaron and  on to Nefyn, with a second vehicle doing the opposite. The fare is £1, and the driver will pick up or drop off passengers at any point on the coast the minibus can reach.

So if you enjoy walking on the coast of Wales, make sure you get to Lleyn this year, as who knows if the minibuses will continue in 2017. And as you walk along the path, remember to thank the National Trust and the Welsh Government for making the coast so accessible.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Good news all round! Natur Cymru Issue 59 Summer 2016

TWO great things have happened this week

First, our Fundraising appeal has been successful thanks to the great generosity of our supporters who have given either their money or their time or both. These include:

Iolo Williams, who has supported Natur Cymru right from the beginning
National Trust, Bodnant Gardens
National Trust, Llanerchaeron Gardens
Ty Newydd Writers Centre
North Wales Wildlife Trust
Dyfi Osprey Project
Denmark Farm Conservation Centre
Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales

Please try to support them in return, wherever you can.

This week also sees the publication of the Summer issue packed full of wonderful articles


The Welsh Rothschilds - places for nature Jonathan Mullard

It is 100 years since Charles Rothschild selected his proposed nature reserves in Wales


The end of the line for the Strandline Beetle? Mike Howe

Many environmental factors are working together to drive this rare beetle to extinction


Earthstar fungus Geastrum britannicum: coming soon to a churchyard near you Andrew Shaw

A new species, which only occurs in Britain, has been found in a number of Welsh churchyards 


Trelogan - a small Welsh village with a worldwide reputation  Paul Day and Phil Putwain

How lead mining has led both to the study of evolution in action


A photographer’s journey - from landscapes to birds in their habitat  Jeremy Moore

A personal account of how bird photography grew out of a love of landscapes


Eryri - may na mynyddoedd - Ffair Bioamrywiaeth Eryri Gethin Davies

Taith Bioamrywiaeth Flynyddol o amgylch ysgolion Eryri


Do bats visit the Pembrokeshire Islands? Rachel Taylor

New technology is revealing a great deal about hitherto unknown movements of bats


“I had seen nothing in nature so spectacular”  The Grassholm Saga ● David Saunders

The long and colourful history of this Pembrokeshire island is brought together for the first time.


Freshwater pearl mussels - Pearls in Peril Elain Gwilym and Jackie Webley

A four year project is now nearing completion with hope for the future of this iconic species



Green Bookshelf James Robertson, Mike Howe

Marine Matters Ivor Rees

‘Seared Scallops’ - the implications of proposed scallop dredging in the Cardigan Bay SAC

Buglife Ryan Clark

There is life in dead wood!

From the Garden Bruce Langridge

Dancing to the rhythm of fungi – ballerina waxcaps

Discoveries in science Harriet Wood

Safeguarding the gems of a scientific collection

Plantlife Colin Cheesman

Great Orme - its botanical riches and management challenges

Woods and forests Nick Atkinson

The Long Forest - hedgerows and their management

Publication date: 15th June 2016

Cover price £4.50, or quarterly by subscription £18 pa (individual) or £32 (group/organisation)

Enquiries: 0300 065 4867

Monday, 9 May 2016

Natur Cymru's Crowdfunding appeal

Iolo Williams, giving heartfelt support for Natur Cymru

There are big changes here at Natur Cymru HQ. If you're a subscriber you'll be getting a personal letter from us this week explaining what's happening, but here's a summary.

Earlier this year we learned that important financial support was being withdrawn. Since then we have been working hard to find ways to keep the magazine going. Without it, unfortunately the magazine will have to close after Issue 60 (Autumn 2016).
More time is needed to find a long term solution, and so we have decided to ask for donations to raise enough money to keep afloat until March 2017. We are seeking £12,000 to fund a further 2 issues – Nos 61 (Winter 2016) and 62 (Spring 2017). This will be used to fund staff time and office costs.

Supporters can donate online via the the Crowdfunder website, where Iolo Williams speaks from the heart about what Natur Cymru means to wildlife in Wales.

Cheque donations are also very welcome - please make your cheque payable to Natur Cymru Ltd and post to Natur Cymru, Maes y Ffynnon, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DW.  Please remember to include your name and address.

Please note, cheques and pledges will not be cashed unless we reach our target.


  • Subscribe to NC via our website or by writing to us
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @NaturCymru and share to interested parties so we can reach a wider audience
  • Write to us with letters of support which will help with our bids for funding (or email

If you belong to an organisation which might be able to help meet any of our needs, please contact us
Thank you everyone, and keep your fingers crossed!

    Monday, 11 April 2016

    Welsh Assemby elections - how will you vote?

    With the Welsh Assembly elections in May drawing near, Natur Cymru decided to approached the six main political parties and asked them about some of the environmental problems facing Wales today.

    Judging by what we know of our readership, many people in Wales feel passionately about environmental issues. But how easy is it to judge and compare the environmental approaches of the main political parties?

    We asked for a general statement, and replies to 4 questions. In Issue 58 we summarised the responses we received, but you can  read their full replies on our website here.

    QUESTION 1: What do you think are the main threats to the marine environment caused by human activities? How would you address these, and would marine conservation zones be a priority?

    QUESTION 2: Do you think Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is delivering significant environmental benefits for the taxpayer? Are there any ways in which you and your Party would seek to reform CAP and the way in which it is administered in Wales to deliver improved environmental outcomes and public benefits?

    QUESTION 3: Do you think measures are needed to improve the performance of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in fulfilling its duties and responsibilities towards wildlife and the natural environment, and if so, what would these be?

    QUESTION 4: Sustainability of major land-use changes (such as the Circuit of Wales, M4 Relief road); do the stated advantages of the developments (some of which may not turn out as claimed) outweigh the permanent loss of key habitat?

    We hope you find the results interesting and informative. They reveal many and varied points of view and policy intentions. We are extremely grateful to all those who provided responses to our questions, namely: Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru; Tom Sharman, Policy Communications Manager, Wales Green Party; Janet Howarth AM, Welsh Conservative Party; Martin Eaglestone, Welsh Policy Officer, Welsh Labour Party; and William Powell AM, Welsh Liberal Democrats Shadow Minister for the Environment & Rural Affairs. UKIP did not reply.

    Thursday, 24 March 2016

    Goats in Bee Bole

    The new kid is now 19 days old and finding its feet; quick and agile on steep slopes, but not yet able to cross over fences. For the time being the kid and its mum are separate from the rest of the gang, unable to get over fences, although today there was a second female or aunt in attendance.

    This morning’s weather was foul, cold and wet. As I drove up the hill, the kid and its mum were on the drive in front of me, just above the lower hairpin. They stared at my car for a while, but as the intensity of the rain increased, it was time for shelter. They ran up the slope and took refuge in one of the bee boles. The mum ushered in the kid, then squeezed in herself; a tight fit with her horns touching the ceiling.

    The bee boles were built for skeps, the baskets in which bees were kept before the invention of the beehive. It’s good to see old buildings put to new uses.

    Thursday, 17 March 2016

    Natur Cymru 58 Spring 2016

    Publication date: 18th March 2016

    Cover price £4.50, or quarterly by subscription £18 pa (individual) or £32 (group/organisation)

    Politics and Environment: views of the Parties
    In the run up to the May elections, where do the main parties stand on key environmental issues?

    Er clod i'n cloddiau cerrig ● Twn Elias, Dafydd Roberts a John H. Davies
    Mae cloddiau yn rhan annatod o dirwedd Cymru ac yn amhrisiadwy i fywyd gwyllt

    Travels in lichenology ● Tracey Lovering
    The trials and addictive joys of learning a new subject

    Native oyster restoration in Wales ● Andy Woolmer
    Bringing back the native oyster to Swansea Bay

    Enlightened, wildlife-friendly agriculture ● Ian Rappel
    Colin Tudge speaks of the Campaign for Real Farming

    Skokholm & Skomer 1946  ● David Saunders
    After the Second World War naturalists were keen to return to the Pembrokeshire Islands

    Pumlumon: a truly Living Landscape ● Liz Lewis-Reddy
    Restoring wildlife, sustainable agriculture  and vibrant communities back to the Cambrian Mountains

    When to intervene ● Rob Parry
    A thought-provoking plea to do more for wildlife before it's too late

    Discoveries in science ● Annette Townsend, Caroline Buttler & Cindy Howells
    Moulding and casting a fossilised coral

    Buglife ● Michelle Bales - Urban Buzz – creating wildlife areas for invertebrates

    Green Bookshelf ● David Saunders, Andy Mackie

    Dispatches from the hills ● David Elias
    Rewilding the Ranges

    Islands round up ● Geoff Gibbs
    News from the Skerries, and overwintering on the offshore islands of Wales

    Nature at large ● Audrey Watson
    BASC programme of mink control to protect water voles

    Woods and forests ● Rory Francis
    How green is my city? The importance of urban trees

    Life lines ● Russell De'Ath
    Building a resilience: the principles of Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

    Enquiries: 0300 065 4867

    Tuesday, 8 March 2016

    Films about conservation in Wales

    Over the past year I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of interesting people at National Trust properties across Wales to make short films about their conservation work.

    At Cwm Idwal we filmed early when the arctic alpines were blooming and later in the summer when everywhere was purple with heather. Amazing geology and incredible what a difference sheep grazing or the lack of it can make. Here is a link to the English and to the Welsh

    Cwm Ivy is another magical place down on the Gower where a medieval seawall has been breached and a brand new salt marsh has been created. The transition from pasture to salt marsh was incredibly quick, new species quickly filled the gap. Here is 
    a link to the film.

    To give people an idea of the sort of work that goes into managing a National Trust woodland we filmed in each season to show the activities at different times of year. This film condenses a year in the life of Rhodri Wigley and the Dolmelynllyn Woodland into 15 minutes. Here is a link to 
    the English and to the Welsh

    In Ceredigion there are 9 sites which are part of the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project. This particular site was just north of Aberporth and a group of volunteers was being trained to identify plants and thus be able to monitor the progress of the meadows. Here is a link to 
    the film

    The Cregennan Lakes between Cadair Idris and the Mawddach are the best in Wales, the benchmark against which all other lakes are measured. 
    This film incorporates dive footage which shows the plantlife growing at almost twice the depth of other lakes. 

    The waxcaps at Llanerchaeron are beautiful and so is the soil analysis and DNA science which helps you detect which species are present without the need to see the fruiting bodies. Here is 
    a link to the film

    I always look forward to my visits to Pembrokeshire but as I drove down through the storms I thought it was going to be a wasted journey. Fortunately the Gods were on our side and we had 5 hours of filming before the heavens opened again. This is what they are doing on the Castlemartin Peninsula

    At Hafod y Llan a second shepherd was appointed to control the sheep which were grazing the wrong parts of the mountain as soon as the first shepherd clocked off at the end of his shift. Here is a link to the English and to the Welsh

    The geography of the Migneint is so impressive and vast but it still needs managing. This is what is being done to improve the conditions for species such as the Red Grouse. Here is a link to the film

    I also had the opportunity to make some films about the Llyn Peninsula which were not commissioned by the National Trust but included a lot of their input. Here is a link to one of those films.