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June 22, 2021, 01:06:38 am

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Topics - SteveB


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 Brady, Group Leader, Pembs U3A Natural History Group
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

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.

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)



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


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


Dowrog Common - July


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


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

Minwear Wood NNR - September


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


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.


Other sites I have been looking at:

West Williamston WT reserve, Kilgetty. Birds and flowers



Westfield Pill NR near Neyland Waterfowl and flowers



Puncheston Common: dragon flies and mosses


Marloes Mere:T birds in winter dragonflies in summer


Mynydd Preseli



Source of Stonehenge bluestones

Treffgarne gorge and tors


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


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 Brady

Group Leader
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

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.

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
Natural History / Group relaunched!
October 28, 2020, 02:09:09 pm
Thank you to the members who joined me at the kick-off Zoom meeting this morning for the Pembrokeshire U3A Natural History Group. Other members sent apologies for not being able to attend on this occasion but indicated their active interest.

It was agreed that the long-term objective is to hold monthly indoor meetings combined with, or possibly, especially in summer, replaced by, outdoor walks to places of interest.

Indoor meetings would have guest speakers - a lady who rings birds in her Pembrokeshire garden has been suggested for example - or invite members to give 10 minute talks, possibly illustrated, on areas of their interest, or ask members who wish to do so to give a short talk on a Natural History related book of interest to them, and so on. It was stressed that there is no pressure on members to speak or contribute. All are welcome to just to sit back and enjoy listening if that is what they prefer.
Outdoor meetings could be general walks in interesting places to see what we can see, or ones focussed on a specific point of interest at the venue, e.g. a fungus foray or bird or orchid spotting or whatever. Each outdoor event would have an Event Leader who beforehand would have chosen the route, identified parking and rendezvous point and so forth and might perhaps start proceedings off with a brief introduction to the site and what is to be seen. Those attending would be encouraged, if they wished, to record species seen and either submit records themselves to relevant recorders or pass records to the Event Leader or a member who has a special interest in the group concerned.

In present circumstances, indoor meetings will have to be via the medium of Zoom, which presents problems for some but was agreed to be better than nothing. In the longer term the hall at Merlin's Bridge is, I understand, currently available the 4th Wednesday morning of each month and that might be a suitable venue.

However, subject to the ever-changing CoVID regulations, we felt that it would be good to have at least one outdoor meeting before the end of the year, with appropriate social distancing.

Two venues for our first outdoor meeting were suggested, both in the North of the County.

Ty Canol National Nature Reserve.


Pengelli Forest.


Please let me know which you prefer. I shall then reconnoitre and arrange our first activity, and we can meet each other at last!

More suggestions for future outdoor walks most welcome!

It was agreed that Wednesday mornings at 11.30 am would be a convenient time to meet for our walks.
Given that we cannot do anything before the latest lockdown ends on November 9th, and assuming whatever rules are in force after that do not prevent us holding it, I would suggest either Wednesday November 18th or Wednesday November 25th for this. What do people think?

Please let me know your preferred venue and date, if any. A week hence, on November 4th, I will let everyone know when and where we are going. I look forward to meeting you all and getting Pembrokeshire U3A Natural History Group going once more.

Best wishes

Steve Brady


Dear all

Having recently moved to the county, I am interested in finding out more about the history of Pembrokeshire.

Can anybody recommend a good book on the subject?


Natural History / Launch meeting on Zoom
October 20, 2020, 01:55:17 pm
The first meeting of the relaunched Natural History Group will be held a week tomorrow, Wednesday 28th October, at 10.30am

Ideas for site visits and walks and speakers welcome. I cannot, in present circumstances, see anything happening until next year, probably next summer, but we can discuss ideas and perhaps start regular Zoom meetings now.

Here is the link:

Steve Brady is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: U3A Pembrokeshire Natural History Group Launch
Time: Oct 28, 2020 10:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 742 6759 2142
Passcode: ifJDG3

See you there


Steve Brady, Acting Group Leader
Natural History / Subject leader volunteer!
August 02, 2020, 10:04:38 pm
As you may have read in a recent newsletter, I have volunteered to organise a relaunch of the Natural History Group.

Before moving to Pembrokeshire, I was for many years an active member of Milton Keynes Natural History Society, Chairman for four years and Secretary for 22. I am a graduate Zoologist with a special interest in entomology, evolution and the environment.

In present circumstances we can do very little, but once it is safe and legal to do so I would plan to invite all interested parties to an inaugural meeting at the hall in Merlin's Bridge on a free Wednesday morning. There we can meet one another and decide what we want to do.

My own ideas would be to have monthly indoor meetings, with speakers if I can get them, at Merlin's Bridge throughout the months of inclement weather, probably on a Wednesday morning. During the late spring, summer and early autumn, I would suggest monthly meetings in the field at suitable sites. As a newcomer, I would be most grateful for suggestions as to these sites, and indeed also for offers to give talks at indoor meetings (possibly, for those that do not feel able to give a long talk, only of 10-15 minutes duration, in which case a meeting could consist of 3 or 4 such short talks).

Some people have already e-mailed me to express interest, and if so you need not respond to this to do so again. But if not and you are interested please, if you have not already done so, register your interest and/or suggestions and ideas about a revived Natural History Group either here or direct to me on stevejbrady@hotmail.com.

I hope we can get this back off the ground in one of the most wonderful areas for Natural History in the British Isles.

Steve Brady