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June 21, 2021, 11:38:33 pm

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Messages - SteveB

1
202105 Newsletter U3A PEMBROKESHIRE NATURAL HISTORY GROUP.doc

Hopefully the Newsletter is attached. The content is mainly concerned with our next walk, a week on Wednesday, 26th May at Tŷ Canol Wood NNR. Please let me know - if you have not already done so - if you are coming.

If you can't read the attachment, please let me know. I tried to copy it into a post directly but failed miserably!

Best wishes

Steve

Steve Brady, Group Leader, Pembs U3A Natural History Group
2
In view of the still uncertain situation around lockdown rules, and to wait until as many members as possible have been fully vaccinated, the Natural History Group has decided not to hold its first walk of the season in late April as had been hoped.

Instead the Group will start off the 2021 season with a walk at Ty Canol Wood National Nature reserve, near Newport, Pembs. on Wednesday 26th May, meeting at 10.15 for 10.30. Details will be sent to those registering an interest nearer the time.

In accordance with CoVID regulations, numbers will be limited to 30 and all those intending to take part must register in advance with the Group Leader, Steve Brady
3
Natural History / Re: Joining the group
April 15, 2021, 08:19:22 pm
You have just joined Diane!

Can you e-mail me your contact details (at leasrt an e-mail address)? My e-mail is stevejbrady(at)hotmail.com.

Welcome

Steve, Group Leader
4
We will be going there hopefully later in the Summer! It is a lovely spot.
5
MEETING OF PEMBROKESHIRE U3A NATURAL HISTORY GROUP

Held via Zoom on Wednesday 31st March 2021 staring at 10.30 a.m.

Present: Trisha Biffen, Steve Brady, Sue George, Dorothy Huthwaite. Myles Huthwaite, Rosey Mitchell, Adrian Pugh (Preseli U3A), Geoff Winterman

Steve, the Group Leader, welcomed all attendees and thanked Trisha for letting us use her professional Zoom account, which would not, and did not, expire after 40 minutes. 

Wendy Symonds had apologised for absence as she was unwell, and Pete and Carol Hall subsequently apologised because, for technical reasons they thought were at their end, they could not connect to the Zoom URL and hence did not attend as they had wished. 

The provisional Programme circulated previously was agreed as a basis for activities over the coming season, subject to CoVID-19 regulations in force at the time. It will therefore be issued to members as a, still necessarily somewhat provisional, Summer Programme, subject to change if necessary/deemed desirable. 

As well as the sites on this Programme, Adrian also suggested The Gann https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/things-to-do/walking-in-the-park/web-walks/the-gann/
   

as a good birdwatching site. A morning visit there could be followed by a visit to the hides at Marloes Sands in the afternoon to make a day of it. Pete Hall had also suggested the ponds area at the old airfield at St. David's. Steve and he will reconnoitre this site next week. Seal pup viewing on the coast path is also a possible activity for Setember.

Walk Organisers (i.e. mostly Steve this season!) should similarly reconnoitre all sites prior to our visits. Things to look out for, and inform putative attendees of beforehand, include parking and toilet facilities (including costs of parking), duration and difficulty of the walk, type of footwear required, and any Health & Safety issues (U3A requires a Risk Assessment before each walk, which must be signed on the day by participants). When such are open again, a post-walk refreshment venue - such as a pub - if available nearby should also be identified by the walk organiser. Alternatively, attendees could bring sandwiches if they wished.

Whilst the Walk Leader will normally physically lead the walkers, to avoid stragglers becoming lost a Walk Hindmost will be appointed for each walk, to act as "Tail-End Charlie" and go at the back of the walkers, ensuring none are left behind. It would also be desirable to identify walkers on each walk with first-aid expertise and bring at least a basic First Aid Kit. 

Steve plans to issue a monthly newsletter by e-mail and via the Forum, normally early each month, confirming the selected site for the 4th Wednesday of that month. Other relevant contributions to this would be very welcome. Given weather and possible short-notice CoVID rule tightening or relaxation constraints, an e-mail/forum post confirming the walk is going ahead - or not! - should be issued by the Walk Leader via e-mail and Forum the day before.

There was a discussion about what to do if a walk has to be cancelled at short notice. Given possible clashes with other U3A activities, it was agreed that no attempt would be made to reschedule cancelled walks outside our slot of Last Wednesday Moring of the Month.   

The point was made that, if restrictions continue to ease and especially if foreign holidays remain difficult or impossible this year, many of the better-known sites may be unusually beswarmed with our conspecifics this season. For that reason, any suggestions of "hidden gem" sites would be most welcome.

It was generally felt that during the "off season", probably from October to March inclusive, monthly indoor, rather than outdoor, meetings would be desirable, if permitted. Myles observed that the previous incarnation of the Natural History Group had been able to get speakers for these, and Steve undertook to try to continue this tradition. A local Solitary Bee expert and the RSPB were suggested as possible sources of speakers, as was the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The latter is apparently under a statutory duty to engage with interested local groups. Geoff very kindly offered to prepare a short talk at each meeting to be given before the main speaker's talk on what is to be seen in the night sky in the coming month, which was gladly accepted. Any and all suggestions of possible indoor meeting speakers would be most welcome.

Whilst the Merlin's Bridge Hall venue is, apparently, available for our use on the fourth Wednesday morning of each month, it was observed that this facility is cold and draughty and has no Internet connection. Apparently U3A may get the use of a newly built meeting venue in Neyland, which may remedy these issues. Steve to discuss with Jan Manning.

Various plans for a more ambitious post-CoVID programme, hopefully possible in 2022, were discussed such as group-booked boat trips to Skomer, Ramsey Island and around Grassholm and possibly seal pup viewing from a boat, but these must await events. 

There being no further business Steve brought proceedings to a close, thanking attendees for their contributions and Trisha also again for hosting the meeting, at 11.40 a.m.

   
6
Dear all

Now we are approaching the point where we can - hopefully - emerge from our enforced hibernation, I have been thinking about walks around sites of natural history interest over the coming season. Obviously, all will depend on the CoVID situation prevailing at the time.

The idea would be to meet at these sites at 10.30 am on the 4th Wednesday of the month, weather permitting. If the weather was poor on such a date, we could postpone the walk by a day or a few days as required. 

I have been looking at some possible sites and dates, but would very much welcome other suggestions and advice. I am new to the area! 

The dates are all based on my best guess as to when the sites will be of maximum interest, but they may be better at other times - if so let me know.

Cilgerran - April (if permitted)

https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/walking-pembrokeshire/cilgerran-wildlife-park-circular-walk

 

Ty Canol Wood - May (hopefully this will be possible by then)

https://www.first-nature.com/waleswildlife/sw-nnr-ty-canol.php

This is an excellent woodland site, which I reconnoitred last autumn. In late Spring or early Summer it should be well worth seeing


Bosherston Ponds - June

https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/things-to-do/access-for-all/walks-for-all/bosherston-lily-ponds/


Dowrog Common - July

https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserve/dowrog-common/

WT reserve off A487 North of St David's, opposite Dr Beynon's Bug Farm. The latter is well worth a visit afterwards, if it survives. Good for marsh plants, dragonflies and damselflies, and hen harriers


West Angle Bay - August

https://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/plan-your-visit/itineraries/mindfulness-walks/west-angle-bay-circular-walk-pembrokeshire/?lang=en

Excellent rock-pooling. Rare cushion stars are found here.


Minwear Wood NNR - September

https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/things-to-do/walking-in-the-park/web-walks/minwear-canaston-woods/

Or we could walk the coast path looking for baby seals, to be seen in September. I know a couple of good spots.


Pembroke Upper Mill Pond, nr Pembroke - October

https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserve/pembroke-upper-mill-pond/

Good for waterfowl



Teifi Marshes - November

Said to be one of the best wetland sites in Wales, with over wintering birds including thousands of starlings coming in to roost and performing a fine murmuration over the marshes before descending to roost.

https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserve/teifi-marshes/



Other sites I have been looking at:

West Williamston WT reserve, Kilgetty. Birds and flowers

https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserve/west-williamston/

 

Westfield Pill NR near Neyland Waterfowl and flowers

https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserve/westfield-pill/

 

Puncheston Common: dragon flies and mosses

http://southwalesbryos.blogspot.com/2018/05/puncheston-common.html


Marloes Mere:T birds in winter dragonflies in summer

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/marloes-sands/trails/marloes-sands-and-mere-walk


Mynydd Preseli

https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/things-to-do/walking-in-the-park/web-walks/mynydd-preseli/

https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/local/waun-mawn-pembrokeshire-sir-benfro

Source of Stonehenge bluestones


Treffgarne gorge and tors

https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/walking-pembrokeshire/treffgarne-gorge


Pengelli Forest

https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserve/pengelli-forest/  Parking is a problem here

 

Mountain Meadows

http://coronationmeadows.org.uk/meadow/mountain-meadows-clarbeston-road Not sure about access

Other ideas for this season or next that occur to me are:

Strumble Head (seabirds, seals and dolphins)

Skomer accessible by RSPB boat at £25 return

Ramsey Island RSPB reserve. Might be worth trying for a group booking with 1000 Islands boats

Pen Dinas - nice coast walk

St Davids Head, for the energetic

Westdale Bay (nr Dale)

Sandy Haven is apparently good in winter for migrants

Corsydd Llangloffan, where we went in November, is worth seeing in summer, and just up the road (walkable) is a superb pool for dragonflies

https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserve/llangloffan-fen/


What do people think?

If there is enough interest I shall convene a Zoom meeting on Wednesday March 31st at 10.30 am to finalise our Summer Programme. 

Best wishes

 

Steve

Steve Brady

Group Leader
7
This annual RSPB activity is both fun and an important source of information about the health, or sadly all too often lack of it, of our garden bird populations across the country.

Find out more, and take part, at
https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/everything-you-need-to-know-about-big-garden-birdwatch/

Steve
8
Those who went on the Group Walk in late November will have seen me use one of the FSC laminated foldout guides to Lichens. I find these very useful in the field, and being laminated they can cope with our local climate (temperate rain forest!). They are, however, not easy in my experience to get hold of.

However, I have now found that the excellent Seaways bookshop, 12 West St, Fishguard SA65 9AE, has a full range of these on sale, at reasonable prices.

Steve
9
Our walk was generally felt to be successful, with 9 people and a strange glowing golden thing hanging in the sky over us, a rare sight in recent weeks. Amongst other things, we saw the plant that pparently inspired the author of The Day Of the Triffids, although we did not see any move...

We agreed we would hold another walk after Christmas, probably 4th Wednesday in January. Watch this space.

Full report and action photographs in the forthcoming Newsletter.

Steve Brady

Group Leader
10
Dear all

The first outdoor activity of the relaunched Pembrokeshire U3A Natural history Group will be on Wednesday 25th November at 10-30a.m.

We shall meet at the roadside car park by the entrance to Corsydd Llangloffan National Nature Reserve, Castlemorris. Note this is NOT the Wildlife Trust reserve at Llangloffan Fen, although if time allows we may visit that afterwards as it is only a couple of minutes' drive away.

To get there, take the B4331 road joining the A40 at Letterston to the A487 at Mathry, about 10 miles north of Haverfordwest and 5 miles south of Fishguard. At Castlemorris crossroads take the St Nicholas turn, right if coming from Letterston, left if coming from Mathry, down the hill. The road bends right and then left and the car park is beside the road on the right before you get to the stone bridge.

There is a safe, dry walkway around the reserve which we shall be following.

The reserve consists of the eastern part of the largest floodplain river valley mire surviving in Pembrokeshire. Otters roam the reserve, and polecats, badgers, water voles and water shrews can also be found in and around the ponds and the small stream that runs through the fen. The birdlife is abundant, and corncrake, quail, and spotted crake have been recorded, along with more common winter visiting species such as snipe, water rail (which I have heard, if not yet seen, here) and numbers of waterfowl.
 
Many of you will know that I had considered Ty Canol or Pengelli Forest for our first venue, but Jennyfer and I reconnoitred these last week and both are in a very muddy and slippery state at the moment, and will be much more interesting in spring or summer anyway. They are also harder to find and parking is an issue at Pengelli.

In order to comply with CoVID-19 regulations limiting participant numbers, and for Health and Safety reasons, please let me know by midday Tuesday 24th November if you are planning on coming. I will need your e-mail address and a contact phone number, in case we have to postpone due to weather or other last minute issues.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Stay safe!

Steve Brady

Acting Group Co-ordinator, Pembrokeshire U3A Natural History Group