16th February 2013 – Glamorgan Recorders’ Forum

parkThe Glamorgan Recorders’ Forum was held at Rhondda Heritage Park at Trehafod. It was a full day of talks and presentations with a great many attendees from all walks of wildlife. The event was hosted by the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre (SEWBReC) who collate and manage wildlife records in the region. We are grateful to them for inviting us to this event.

The first talk of the day was by Chris Manley, author of ‘Moths of Trigon: Observations on a Dorset Country Estate’, copies of which Chris kindly gave away for a very small donation. Chris spoke about an app that he and others have developed for the Smartphone called ‘Butterflies of Europe’. This is described on iTunes as ‘a brilliant resource for experts and novices alike.’

Paul Seligman from Glamorgan Bird Club took us through the changes in technology which have helped him to record his sightings over the years, starting with pencil and paper (not much good in the rain!) through digital recorders and now the latest Smartphone apps. Paul described ‘Bird Track’, iSpot and the very comprehensive ‘Nature Lister’.

More presentations followed and before lunch the audience was treated to an inspirational video made by eight year old Rudi Bright whose favourite book is ‘Tarka the Otter’; Rudi is trying to see all the living organisms mentioned in the book and posts photographs of his many successful sightings on his internet blog.

After a very sociable lunch break we reconvened to hear more talks, starting with Clare Dinham from Buglife, a charity described as being ‘dedicated to the conservation of all invertebrates, passionately committed to saving Britain’s rarest little animals, everything from bees to beetles, and spiders to snails.’ Claire told us about some of Buglife’s work, including that at Kenfig National Nature Reserve here in Wales, recently featured on BBC1’s Countryfile. Kenfig have a Facebook page.

Further presentations included one by Emma Douglas on Coity Wallia Commons, a Biodiversity enhancement project which aims to restore and reconnect 1,063 hectares of priority habitats on Cefn Hirgoed and Mynydd y Gaer, commons north of Bridgend. This project has a particular emphasis on management for the Marsh Fritillary, High Brown Fritillary, Bog Bush Cricket and Shrill Carder Bee.

Mark Baber then told us about the Wales Online Amphibian and Reptile Atlas, a project which hopes to record all sightings of these creatures, particularly gathering data from areas on which there is currently little or no information. The data are collected by Cofnod, a Local Records Centre at Bangor.

These are just some of the talks that we enjoyed on Saturday. We felt that it had been time well spent and we recognised the great importance of monitoring and recording wildlife sightings, whether it be a comprehensive survey of Bute Park, or a one-man study of the beasts, birds and bugs seen in our own back gardens. All data are valuable once submitted to the local, regional and national record centres. The information not only to helps to protect, conserve and encourage wild life in Wales but also assists councils to make the right decisions when considering future developments in their area.

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Welcome to the new Friends of Bute Park website & blog!

This is the first day of a brand new website and blog and so there will be changes and additions as the site develops. Please keep coming back to see what’s new! If you have questions, suggestions or photos then please ‘leave a comment’ below and we will get back to you. Thanks!

This home page will be used for a blog of events that we have held. For announcements of events yet to come please see the ‘Events’ tab above! Here are three of our most recent:

26th January 2013 – Big Garden Bird Watch with the RSPB

Redwing_Turdus_iliacus

Redwing (courtesy Andre Trepte – Wikipedia)

This weekend we held an event for the RSPB‘s Big Garden Bird Watch. Starting with a warming cappuccino at the Secret Garden Cafe, we then went indoors to the Education Centre and greeted a good sized audience before introducing Anthony Walton (RSPB) who gave a wonderful talk on his favourite birds and told us which of them we might expect to see in the Park. One of our Friends committee members, John Aggleton, then led walks through the Park to see how many different species could be spotted. In the end I believe it was about sixteen, including an almost immediate sighting of a male sparrow hawk flying high above us! By listening carefully to the birdsong and scanning the woods through binoculars, we saw blue tits, great tits, long-tailed tits and coal tits plus chaffinches, blackbirds, jays and the odd thrush or two. For many, the highlight was spotting a redwing, a very pretty member of the thrush family and a not uncommon visitor at this time of year, but it was disappointing that the forty or so waxwings that had been seen in Bute Park a month ago had evidently moved on. With quizzes, a photography display and children’s craft activities, it was a busy day for everyone.

13th January 2013 – Lichen walk with Alan Orange

Physcia grisea, a common lichen that grows on walls, trees and fence posts in city environments

Physcia grisea, a common lichen that grows on walls, trees and fence posts in city environments

It was a very chilly day in Cardiff on this day but, ignoring the temptation to stay indoors, we went to Bute Park to meet Alan Orange who works as the Curator of Lichens at the National Museum of Wales. After a comprehensive, illustrated slideshow held in the Education Centre, we trooped outside and didn’t have to walk too far before finding our first lichen. These composite organisms are part fungus and part alga; they cover many of the trees in Bute Park and are yellow, green or grey to the naked eye. Lichens are not only fascinating but some are really beautiful when examined through a hand lens or the eye of a camera. A very dedicated and interested group walked and peered for upwards of two chilly hours but the enthusiasm appeared not to wane at all and we are hoping to be able to run this walk again some time in the future.

12th January 2013 – Litter pick with Cardiff Rivers Group

FoBP and CRG join forces to pick litter.

FoBP and CRG join forces to pick litter.

On this chilly, but mercifully dry Saturday morning, some of us got together with members of the Cardiff Rivers Group (CRG) for a joint litter pick in the area around Blackweir. The heavy rains had ferried lots of rubbish downstream and deposited it on the banks of the River Taff in Bute Park. Although we only spent about an hour and a half at our task, between us we managed to fill twenty bags of rubbish and recycling, which seemed to comprise mostly plastic drinks bottles. We’re hoping that this will be the first of many joint litter picking events with the CRG as not only was it a very environmentally friendly thing to do, it was also surprisingly fun! On this occasion, we were just thirteen strong but next time we’re hoping that more of you will come along too!

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