The best way to get there is to go to the southernmost of the two roundabouts in Johnston on the A4076 (the second if coming from Haverfordwest and turn west AWAY FROM NEYLAND on the A477 (right if coming from Haverfordwest). Turn right at the crossroads into Tier's Cross. The hall is next to a United Reform Church opposite Stoddart's Tyres. Note that the road from Haverfordwest forking off at Merlin's Bridge, although it seems the most direct from there, is narrow, windy and best avoided!
Because it is the only time available, it will be IN THE AFTERNOON on a TUESDAY, 30th November at 2pm.
This meeting will be a largely social affair, with a discussion looking back on our last season and sharing ideas for where we might like to go and what we might like to do in 2022. I will arrange speakers for subsequent indoor meetings. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available, but for obvious health reasons in present circumstances, can people please bring their own cups, mugs or other drinking receptacles? Given that the venue is indoors, it would be considerate of all attendees if they gave themselves a CoVID-19 Lateral Flow Test (available free from chemists) the day before, as I have done before every Group meeting thus far. Please also wear a face covering when moving about the hall, although obviously this can be removed when seated to talk and to consume comestibles.
Could I ask everyone attending to put £1, one pound, in the kitty towards hall hire and refreshments?
There will be no meeting in December (it would fall on Boxing Day!) , so this will also be our Christmas Social.
There will be a meeting in January, also at Tier's Cross Hall, at 2pm on Tuesday 25th January. As I promised when we went to West Angle Bay in August, I shall give an illustrated talk on the natural history of rocky shores. Details of the February meeting will be revealed in due course. One thing we will discuss at the November meeting is when we wish to emerge from hibernation, in March or April, so there may or may not be a March indoor meeting.
It would be appreciated if people told me they were coming, but you can just turn up on the day. I shall send out a reminder nearer the date, but as it is an indoor meeting, short of a climatic catastrophe the weather on the day should not frustrate us, so there won't be the usual eve of meeting go/no go e-mail. Obviously, if restrictions are imposed preventing us having the meeting, I shall update everyone accordingly, but let us hope not. I have done my bit and had my booster!
I look forward to seeing everyone on the 30th. Steve
Steve Brady Pembrokeshire U3A Natural History Group Leader
Autumn is a good time to spot migratory shorebirds, and one of the best places to spot them is The Gann, an estuary near St. Ishmaels, which is itself near Dale. S
To avoid high tide impeding our walk we shall meet an hour later than usual at 11.15 for 11.30 a.m. at the car park by the path to Monk's Haven.
We shall walk along the Coast path from Monk's Haven to the south bank of the Gann Estuary, then along the Estuary and back. If conditions permit, we may venture along the boardwalk to look at the other side of the bay toward Dale.
The Coast Path is very three-dimensional - it goes up and down a lot. It is also muddy. The latter is true also of the Gann estuary path, whilst some of the walk is along a stony beach. Those preferring an easier pace can go direct to the Gann estuary from where we are meeting. I shall give directions if required. Stout and mud-resistant walking footwear is called for. Also BRING BINOCULARS if you have them (I will bring a spare pair or two).
We shall meet at 11.15 for 11.30 (note time!) at the FREE car park at Monk Haven. Head for St Ishmael's off the B4327 Haverfordwest-Dale road. Follow the route in green on the map below, which avoids St Ishmael's Village. Follow the signpost to Monk Haven. This leads down a steep lane. At the bottom is the entrance signposted "PRIVATE ROAD - Footpath only" to Monk Haven) - turn sharp right before passing between the concrete posts and you are in the Free Car Park. No toilets.
This Car Park is also marked on the Walk Map below. The route in orange is the one we shall follow. Those wishing to avoid the Coast Path section can go from the car park against the direction of the arrows to the Shortcut in blue, which they follow to await the rest of us. We shall walk along the Estuary and back. We may then cross the river, if possible, for a look on the Dale side.
After the walk we can repair to St Ishmael's renowned Nursery, marked "Coffee Here Afterwards" where coffee, cakes and other refreshments are available, as well as a selection of interesting plants and other gardening impedimenta. And Toilets!
In order to have an idea of numbers, participants, and for Health and Safety reasons, please let me know by midday Tuesday 26th October if you are planning on coming, if you have not already done so. 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 shall issue a final go/no go email to those who have registered by 5pm Tuesday 26th.
See you on the 27th, I hope!
Steve Brady, Natural History Group Leader
P.S. I expect this will be our last outdoor walk of the season. Information about our indoor meetings during the Winter will be available shortly.
September is when our local grey seals have their pups, so we shall be seeking them out this month on the Coast Path between Trefin and Abercastle.
Tipped off by member Pete Hall, Jennifer and I reconnoitred our intended route yesterday, Tuesday 14th , and saw several baby seals on the beaches, with one attendant mother watching from offshore, plus choughs, ravens and a peregrine falcon. It is likely there will still be baby seals when we go there at the end of this month.
We shall walk from the access to the Coast Path SW of Trefin to Pwll Whiting, which should take about one hour, although we are in no hurry. We shall then walk back. For those interested, a short further walk from Pwll Whiting via Longhouses (which I found has no parking!) will bring you to the 5,000-year-old Neolithic dolmen of Carreg Samson, which is worth seeing if you have not already. There are no loos on or near the path. The Ship Inn in Trefin may or may not be open for refreshment afterwards. I shall check nearer the date when the position will be clearer. There is also a café in the village which should be open.
The Coast Path is very three-dimensional - it goes up and down a lot. Stout walking footwear and a basic degree of fitness (nothing more than those of you who have come on previous Natural History walks have shown!) are called for. Also BRING BINOCULARS if you have them (I will bring a spare pair or two).
We shall meet as usual at 10.15 for 10.30 at the parking place (free this month!) by the Ty Gwyn turnoff (signposted as "Unsuitable for Motors" so do not go beyond the parking space!) SW of Trefin village. To get there turn off the A487 St. David's to Fishguard road just SW of Square & Compass on the Trefin turn-off. See map attached.
In order to have an idea of numbers, participants, and for Health and Safety reasons, please let me know - by replying here if you don't have my e-mail - by midday Tuesday 28th September if you are planning on coming, if you have not already done so. 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 shall issue a final go/no go email to those who have registered by 5pm Tuesday 28th.
Our next activity will be exploring the rock pools at West Angle Bay on Tuesday 24th August. In order that the tide will have exposed a worthwhile area of the rock pools, we shall meet an hour later than usual, at 11-15 for 11.30 am, by the Pay and Display Machine in the Beach Car Park.
This is a notable site for interesting rockpools, and includes a number of rare species such as two kinds of cushion star. When reconnoitring the beach yesterday with Jennifer we were lucky enough to find one, albeit the commoner Asterina gibbosa rather than the rarer A. phylactica.
Because of the nature of the site the plan is to do something slightly different from our usual walk. We shall head down from the car park to the beach, a few yards away, and proceed to the best areas of rockpools, which we shall explore, sharing anything we find. Obviously this involves a degree of scrambling about on rocks (mostly flat but sometimes slippery so please take care) and in rockpools. I would suggest robust waterproof beach sandals or the like and shorts or other garments which will not get wet. The tide will be going out so more and more pools, with different fauna and flora, will come into our purview.
If you have nets, guides to seashore flora and fauna etc please bring them.
We shall continue to explore the ever greater array of habitats revealed until low tide at about 2.30pm. However, people are free to leave earlier than that if they wish. Or participants may choose to take a break for lunch at the Wavecrest Cafe beside the car park by the beach https://www.wavecrestangle.co.uk/ and then re-join us (or we may all decide to take a lunch break together). Picnicking is an alternative. There are also free toilets there. Finally there is a nice sandy beach suitable for bathing if anyone fancies a dip!
Getting there is simple - follow the B4320 from Pembroke through Angle village. The orange X marks the car park by the beach, which is signposted from Angle.
The good news is that there is ample parking at the beach. The bad news is that it is not free - £3 for 3 hours, £5 all day. The machine takes coins only.
If you are interested and do not already get information from the Group by e-mail, please reply to this post with your name and contact details and I will get back to you.
Our next walk will be a week on Wednesday, 28th July, at Dowrog Common, near St. David's, meeting as usual at 10.15 am for 10.30. The walk should take a couple of hours.
Jennifer and I have reconnoitred the site, which is well endowed with interesting flowers and dragonflies.
Dowrog comes from the Welsh Dŵriog, watery, and I suspect for most of the year much of it is. When we went it was pretty dry, at least mostly, and the trails were walkable. The site is flat, and is a mixture of dry heathland, wet heathland and bog. I would advise stout, waterproof footwear. There are no toilets or nearby refreshment facilities. I attach a link to a PDF produced by the local Wildlife Trust, which provides interesting information although the map is not overly forthcoming on the location of paths. https://www.welshwildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/DowrogCommon.pdf
The site is on a side road a couple of miles up the A487 from St David's, on the left if coming from St David's. If doing so, you pass the turnings on the right for Dr Beynon's Bug Farm and then St David's Country Cottages and it is the next turning on the left. If you come to the "Civic Amenity Site" (i.e. town dump!) sign on the right you have come too far! If coming towards St Davids on the A487, the turning is the first on the right after the Civic Amenity turn on the left.
Go up the narrow lane until you reach a cattle grid and a sign announcing Dowrog Common Nature Reserve. There is a small car park space there we shall use as an overflow if needed, but carry on up the road, over the little stone bridge over the River Alun, to the car park by the 2nd cattle grid, where we shall meet up.
Maps of the meeting point and route are available in the July U3A Natural; History Group Newsletter just posted on this Forum.
In order to comply with CoVID-19 regulations limiting participant numbers, and for Health and Safety reasons, please let me know by midday Tuesday 27th July if you are planning on coming, if you have not already done so. 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 shall issue a final go/no go email to those who have registered by 5pm on Tuesday 27th.
I look forward to seeing you a week on Wednesday.
Steve Brady, Pembs U3A Natural History Group Leader
Thanks to all who came on our Ty Canol walk last month, which I thought went well - hopefully the other participants agree!
This month we are exploring Bosherston Lily Ponds and the dune habitat around Broad Haven South beach. Jennifer and I have today reconnoitred the site - we got lost a few times so you won't have to!
This lovely site has much in the way of plants, notably flowers, insects, notably damsel and dragonflies, and birds, waterfowl and at least one reed warbler. Most of it is easy going on gravelled paths - if it is dry next week you won't need boots but avoiding sandals is a good idea as they get gravel lodged within. There is some sandy heavier going in the dunes, and opportunities for the more vigorous to explore - there are orchids on the upper slopes of the dunes. I expect the walk to take about 2 hours, as last time.
There is also an opportunity for us to relax and share our sightings etc afterwards at the very welcoming Bosherston Village pub, the St Govan's (good beer and food!). Or those so inclined can picnic on Broad Haven South Beach.
Bosherston is a few miles south of Pembroke. Follow the B4319 from Pembroke past St Petrox then follow the signs to Bosherston. The Lily Ponds car park is signposted in the middle of the village. Do not go to the NT car park at their Stackpole Outdoor Centre (the map in the link I circulated earlier is NOT the walk we shall be doing).
We shall meet at 10.15 am at the parking ticket machine in the National Trust Bosherston Lily Ponds Car Park, postcode SA71 5DN, entrance next to St Michael and All Angels Church in the middle of Bosherston. Unfortunately if you are not a National Trust member parking is £3 for 3 hours, £6 for the day. We ought to finish the walk within 3 hours. Given we will be arriving early there may be a chance of parking for free around the village.
There are toilets at this NT car park.
I shall be issuing our June Newsletter this weekend with photos of this site and more information.
In order to comply with CoVID-19 regulations limiting participant numbers, and for Health and Safety reasons, please let me know by midday Monday 28th June if you are planning on coming, if you have not already done so. 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 shall issue a final go/no go email to those who have registered by 5pm on Tuesday 28th.
Because the event that made me put this walk on a Tuesday instead of our usual Wednesday has now fallen foul of the delay to "Freedom Day" in England, if the weather is forecast to be poor on the Tuesday, we could now simply move it to the Wednesday if the weather is better and if people can make it. Let me know when registering if you could do the Wednesday if we have to scrub the Tuesday.
I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday
Steve Brady, Pembs U3A Natural History Group Leader
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!
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
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Acting Group Co-ordinator, Pembrokeshire U3A Natural History Group
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.
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.