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Gwent Wildlife Trust

GWT Magor Marsh

The gwent levels never fails to impress me. The sheer diversity there that thrive on both manmade and natural habitats is outstanding. Todays selection of photos only scratch the surface of the things I saw on my short trip after work to magor. Finding a Glow Worm larvae at the end of the wooden pathway was a nice reminder of what happens after dark. A late night trip in the next couple weeks might be on the cards to spot any lights in the darkness. The wind was up which meant the butterflies were down and I managed to get close enough to shoot a few orange tip butterflies with the Macro lens. The Emperor Moth was taken in St Brides thanks to Mel Oxford who was lucky enough to have one sat on his lawn! What a beautiful Moth! We have a great selection of beautiful moths in the Uk and it’s on my list this year to make a trap to record the species in my area. It will be a great way to expand my knowledge, learn more species and add to the never ending list of records that I have to send off. 

Gwent Bugs

This time of year is awesome for insects, and the very reason why we get so many birds migrating here for spring/summer. The shear diversity of insects is key to certain species survival. Drinker Moth Caterpillars are a personal favourite of Cuckoos, so much so that Cuckoo's time their arrival perfectly to indulge on them. Each one of these species below deserve a blog in itself but it's that time of year that I just need to get outside! I hate being sat behind the computer editing photographs at this time of year. There is so much to see and so much more to learn. 

A lot of these species below were taken at a new reserve for me at Henllys bog which is a Gwent Wildlife Trust reserve. Good friend and Spider Expert Mike Kilner showed me around the reserve with a superior knowledge of plants and insects which was really helpful at that reserve! Everywhere you step there is something special..

Dormouse Course with GWT

What a fantastic way to have a presentation! Got to be the best setting I've had for this type of thing! I would have come to this no matter what was on the screen but it just to happen to be really informative too. 

We conducted our survey on the face of the Blorenge Mountain and naturally had incredible views of the Skirrid Mountain and surrounding mountains with Breacon Beacons to the left and Black Mountains to the right.  

The picture below shows a single Hazel nut which is being pushed up in the air by a growing Bluebell on the woodland bed... This was pretty much the theme of todays survey work. There were literally thousands of Hazels to check and despite being educated in finding the right type of evidence, we didn't actually find any signs of Dormouse in this particular woodland. That's not to say they aren't there though, we just didn't find the evidence. 

This goes to show how hard it is sometimes to find species and quick half hearted surveys are not always going to produce an accurate reading of what ecology is living on the land. 

Safe to say though, I had an amazing time on a dry sunny day on the Blorenge and I'm looking forward to any future opportunities to do this type of work. Dormice are a declining and protected species and if found at the nest, cannot be disturbed in any way without a Schedule 1 License. I've never seen one before so have no photographs of my own to show you so here is a link to a fabulous photograph pulled up from Google search. 

Gwent Wildlife Trust Won!

Gwent Wildlife Trust Won!

GWT's 'Furnace to Flowers' project won the vote to receive a 120K to boost a fantastic project to revamp a former Steel Works sight into a wildlife haven! Very proud of GWT and their hard work to get those votes but now the work really starts! I look forward to seeing the final result! Ebbwvale are in good hands.

Llandegfedd Nestbox Survey Results

While I cannot share sensitive information, the basis of todays survey was pretty defining in that 50% of the boxes onsite needed repairing. A figure that may increase upon checking inside the boxes which is on the agenda for our next visit with a group of volunteers. 

Nestbox Survey

Below is something I knocked up as part of a PDF that I've forwarded to all involved. Sensitive information isn't included and positioning of nest boxes are by no means accurate and to be used only as a guide for our volunteer workforce who will be conducting the work. 5

Heather Monitoring with Surprise Bird!

Todays heather monitoring went really well! Only had little showers but for the most part it remained really warm and sunny. Only a few grasshoppers on the uplands now though and plenty of movement with the Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Swallows so 'term has ended' for this years summer birds. On that note though, a typically 'winter bird' was flushed on our travels and we were shocked to find out it was a Short-eared Owl! This was a first for me so at that point my excitement levels hit the roof. The bird remained on topic for the rest of our trip but we had work todo so couldn't get too distracted. We covered a very large distance today but I won't give away location incase this particular owl was on breeding territory. It's not impossible though that it was just an early winter visitor. 

I Won! Again!

Can't believe it! I wasn't expecting to win again this year, especially after seeing some of the other photograph entries on the wall as I went in. Some fantastic photographs this year. I particularly admired the Grassnake photograph! I'm still yet to see one on my patch. 

GWT Photography Competition winner 2015

GWT Photography Competition winner 2015

In other news, the AGM meeting was great this year. I actually took some notes from the presentation as there were some really useful Stats about trees. All useful knowledge that I'll certainly use in the future! 

Next years competition will certainly be tougher again I'm sure but that's a year away so I won't worry about that yet haha. 

Gwent Wildlife Trust 2015 Photography Competition

Tonight is GWT's Annual AGM meeting, at which they announce this years photography competition results. Last year was the first year I entered this competition and I was lucky enough to win! So the pressure is on this year! I have no idea what the outcome will be but it is nice to have been shortlisted again this year and invited along to the AGM. I'm really looking forward to it! The meeting starts at 7:00pm tonight so wish me luck!  

This years GWT Photography Competition Entry

Heather Monitoring @ Coity Mountain

Heather Monitoring @ Coity Mountain

Had such a great time on a beautiful day up the Coity Mountain conducting an annual survey on the status of our Heathland. Though our Red Grouse survey won't be conducted till later in the year, the Heathland status up there seems fairly typical in that, while the majority of the mature heather seems in great condition and covering a large area, most of the outskirts have already been taken over by spreading bracken and on the steeper hills there is hardly any heather present at all. Bracken rolling has already taken place on some of the problematic area's but pockets of bracken inside the heathland itself still pose a threat. We actually saw 4 Red Grouse on this trip that bursted out of the heather in their typical fashion but this wasn't the main focus on the trip. Nice to see some Wheatear still onsite and also Kestrels were abundant. 

Here are a few images from my Heather Monitoring day out with Gwent Wildlife Trust 

Heathland Training @ Blaenavon

Today after work I attended the second meeting of the heather training course lead by Gwent Wildlife Trust and Chris Hatch in the hope to educate a group of volunteers to conduct surveys that will hopefully give us a better understanding of the health of our heathland. On our first visit we learned how to identify several upland species of plant that are of particular interest/concern and sporting some new equipment we are now setting off on our own to conduct these surveys within given areas separated into 'polygons'. I'm not sure what area i'll be working in yet but I hope that I find enough time to get as much done as possible. The idea of all this is to collate data so that the area can be properly managed accordingly so that we can maintain/improve our heathland for its inhabitants. Red Grouse are the key species that we have in mind but also Birds of Prey like Short Eared Owl and Hen Harriers that use Heather to nest in. There are lots of factors that make a good healthy heathland but age diversity seems to be the key with old mature heather for nesting and young heather for food. Bracken management is also key so we will be documenting the area's that need management so that we can tackle the problem accordingly.