Monday, 8 December 2014

Natur Cymru Winter 2014-15, Issue 53

Publication date: 15th December 2014

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

The search is on for harvest mice in Wales ● Becky Clews-Roberts. The latest information on how to search for harvest mice.

The rare spider fauna of Wales ● Richard Gallon. An insight into the exceptional spider fauna of Wales.

Restoring ancient woods – seeing the light ● Alastair Hotchkiss. An urgency to start, but no rush to finish.

Bats in Wales ● Henry Schofield. The changing face of bat conservation over the past thirty years.

Llynnau Cregennen – the hidden jewels of Cadair Idris ● Tristan Hatton-Ellis. New discoveries revealing the most unspoilt of Welsh lakes.

Tro’r tymhorau ar hyd ein glannau ●  Nia Haf Jones. Blwyddyn ar hyd y glannau ac o dan y don.

Citizen scientists counting our breeding birds ● Geoff Gibbs. How birdwatchers can make a real difference to our knowledge of Welsh birds.

Wildlife in orchards, churchyards and gardens ● Iwan Edwards. Connecting people with wildlife on their doorsteps.

Buglife ● Clare Dinham. Brownfield stepping stones

Discoveries in Science ● Mike Wilson. Leafhopper diversity in a Cardiff urban meadow

From the garden ● Richard Thomas, Bruce Langridge & Richard Pryce. A sustainable future from a Regency past

Nature at large ● Ivy Denham. Habitat management at Rhosgoch wood

Marine matters ● Ivor Rees. After the 2013-14 winter storms

Life lines ● Ceri Morris. Surveying Risso’s dolphins

Mammals round-up ● Frances Cattanach. Mammal news from around Wales

Green Bookshelf ● Raymond Roberts, Chris Ledbury, Jane Rees, Ben Stammers, David Saunders

Cynhadledd Partneriaeth Bioamrywiaeth Cymru ● Wales Biodiversity Partnership Conference

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Nature of Scotland printed magazine - R.I.P.

In summer 2008 I subscribed to the Nature of Scotland magazine, published by Scottish Natural Heritage. It was a beautifully laid out, 68-page, quarterly magazine distributed free of charge to anyone who requested it and I believe over 30,000 copies of each edition were printed.

I reckoned the costs of producing and distributing the Nature of Scotland must have been in excess of £100,000 a year and maybe much more. As someone who was trying to recruit paying subscribers to the Nature of Wales magazine, Natur Cymru, I felt a bit envious; the amount of subsidy received by Natur Cymru was peanuts compared to the subsidy in Scotland.

But would it be sustainable? After a few years the quarterly frequency dropped to half yearly. Then there was a phase in which the online PDF version was promoted and the doors were closed to new subscribers of the printed edition.

And today I received a postcard saying that the printed magazine would no longer be posted to individual addresses with effect from October 2014. I never did get to feel edition 20 but you can read it online here or even listen to an audio version.

The end of the printed magazine is a shame but a commercial necessity masquerading as reduced carbon footprint. On the other hand Natur Cymru is on the brink of printing edition 53; an achievement made possible by a loyal set of paying subscribers, some advertising, some subsidy and some excellent volunteers. Keep up the good work! As much as I like the online world I think there is still a vital role for the printed word in pushing messages and reaching out.

NB gift subscriptions as Christmas presents are a great idea and help keep the show on the road!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Trying to reach Natur Cymru???? See our new phone number ...

Technology moving on in the way that it does, Natur Cymru has acquired a new phone number, which is:
0300 065 4867

In case you're worried it might cost you a fortune, 03 numbers are charged at the same rate as standard calls to STD codes beginning 01 and 02. There's more information on the Ofcom website:

Remember, the office is only staffed part time so please leave a message if there's no one there, or email us on

Saturday, 15 November 2014

If you go down to the ancient woodlands today ....

Red-eyed shingle lichen - photo from Plantlife
Dolmelynllyn is for lovers of the lower plants. The ancient woodlands around Dolmelynllyn are a Mecca for lichens, liverworts and mosses; the so-called ‘lower plants’. Students travel hundreds of miles to see the rare specimens, just a few miles north of Dolgellau, many of which have disappeared elsewhere a long time ago.

The magic formula is an abundance of rain, the temperate Celtic rainforest, fresh air and sensible management by the National Trust with help from Plantlife and Natural Resources Wales.

Rhodri Wigley, the lead ranger for the National Trust at Dolmelynllyn, and Dave Lamacraft, from Plantlife Cymru, explain what’s so special and how they care for it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Mushrooms and other fungi brighten up the garden

Honey fungus - Armillaria mellea
The vegetable garden is still looking relatively good; cosmos blooms are just about hanging on, nasturtiums are brighter than ever, lots of tall yellow flowers have grown from the green manure mix. Autumn-sown broad beans, onions and garlic are all putting on lots of new growth.

But mushrooms are the stars of the show and there’s a profusion at the base of the dead sycamore tree. I didn't know what they were but have since been told they are honey fungus. Beneath the bark there is a mass of winding black bootlaces which I had always referred to as honey fungus but they are part of the same organism.

An 'earth tongue' called Geoglossum fallax

On the front lawn are many different kinds of waxcaps plus two strange-looking types of club fungus. 
A yellow club fungus
Clavulinopsis helvola

At first I thought the black one was ‘dead man’s fingers’ but my ID guide says they grow on wood. These are growing on grass so are a type of ‘earth tongue’ – although having said that, they might be growing out of a dead tree-root beneath the grass? Complicated stuff this natural history. Next to the black is a bright yellow one. 

Sunday 30th November 2014.

The earth tongues and the club fungus have faded, but are still hanging around, whereas the honey fungus is a strong-smelling and very slippery pile of mush at the base of the tree. The person who kindly told me the names of the above said that it was tantalising that I had mentioned many different kinds of waxcaps, but without saying which ones. These are photos of the four I was able to find today.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Award for Friends of Skokholm and Skomer

Skokholm photo by Sid Howells
At a ceremony in London on 29th October, The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer were awarded the Marsh Award for Local Ornithology in recognition of the huge amount of work they have done to put Skokholm Island back onto the British ornithological map. The award was presented by The Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony hosted by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) at the Mall Gallery in London.

Skokholm Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, is home to internationally important wildlife populations, and is particularly well known for its seabirds. It was the first Bird Observatory in Britain, but lost its Observatory status in 1976. The island was bought by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales in 2007, by which time the buildings and ‘birding’ infrastructure were in complete disrepair and non-functional. Thanks to the Friends this is no longer the case. The work took four years to complete and almost 20,000 hours of voluntary labour.

The Friends are incredibly important to the islands of Skomer and Skokholm and since 1981 the membership has grown to over 400. Members help finance essential work through their subscriptions, but more importantly, many have taken part in voluntary work parties to help bring Skokholm back to its former glory and its return to official Bird Observatory status in 2014. Some of The Friends often act as voluntary wardens on both Skomer and Skokholm, helping with practical maintenance tasks, wildlife recording and research studies and are currently engaged in digitising the daily bird logbooks which date back to 1933. Well done all you hard workers!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Kim Atkinson Art Exhibition

New Exhibition - Kim Atkinson
Gweithiadau Newydd - Kim Atkinson
3 Tachwedd /November-6 Rhagfyr/ December 2014

Natur Cymru is very pleased to feature original works of art on its covers, and we've been lucky enough to have Kim's art on four Natur Cymru covers in the past. If you're near Bangor in November, now's your chance to see her work 'in the flesh', and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at the same time! Her work will be on display at Kyffin Cafe, 129 High Street, Bangor.