Monday, 7 March 2011

Springwatch in the Vale of Ffestiniog

Sunday 6th March. In the foothills of Moelwyn Bach, on a sunny afternoon, my son was enjoying splashing through puddles on his bike when something caught his eye! A lively adder, woken from its siesta, wriggled away with ‘wheelspin’ as it struggled to find purchase on the long grass. Spring – watch out!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

4 legs good, 2 legs better

The wild goats in Maentwrog nature reserve (Forest of the Wolves) have been enjoying the removal of the double height fence. This has provided an abundance of previously untouchable winter food. After a couple of months of feasting, the brambles are looking in a sorry state and ivy leaves can only be seen above the five foot mark.  Maybe this was how the giraffe started off.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Birds from a hide, and help us track down Ravens!

Recently I spent some hours in a hide at Aberogwen (The Spinnies), the North Wales Wildlife Trust reserve just across the Ogwen from Penrhyn Park near Bangor. Trust members man the hide once a month over high tide, to chat to visitors and help them identify birds on the reserve and out on the estuary.
We had 49 visitors while we were there, from as far away as Hertfordshire, Oxford area and Chester, also many locals including the family from the farm across the road! Everyone hoped to see a kingfisher, but it didn’t show up. Maybe the very cold weather in December and January did for it. Luckily other key birds like water rail and greenshank did appear, along with bullfinches (2 pairs), mergansers, goldeneye ducks (30 of these) and other usual denizens (39 species in all). Our key volunteer Richard provides all the bird feeders and fills them up ready for the weekend. We all enjoyed very close views of birds on the feeders, including a great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, long-tailed tits and six greenfinches. A handsome squirrel didn’t cause too much trouble.
Our next hide session at Aberogwen is on March 5th, 11am – 3pm.

Fieldwork for the BTO Winter Atlas 2007-11 finishes at the end of this month, and the final period for the Breeding Atlas starts in April. So we have March off! However mid-March onwards is an excellent time for spotting raven nests, because this species is a very early breeder. We’d love to hear about occupied raven nests in North Wales, with date and locality (grid reference if possible). You could ring through the details on 01248 681936 (please leave your name and phone number), or email the Natur Cymru office and ask Mandy to forward on to me. Many thanks.

Prequel to Natur Cymru

The first edition of Natur Cymru was published in summer 2001 but the tradition of in-depth nature writing goes back to spring 1955. Our predecessor, titled Nature in Wales, was published in an unbroken run for 32 years until 1987.

This is an invaluable resource for anyone seriously studying changes, patterns and trends in the natural world. Copies of the journals are held in libraries and amongst private collections but as of a couple of days ago the whole series is available on line. A big thanks to the National Library of Wales with funding from the JISC Digitisation Programme.

If you’d like to see the collection it’s just a matter of clicking here.

Naturally I went to the first journal and scanned the list of contents with articles by heavyweights such as R M Lockley and Bill Condry.  But of course you don’t need to plough through all 83 volumes. Just type in a search word and you will find pointers to the articles in which it appears. Progress can indeed be a good thing.