making wildlife connections

At the weekend the local zoo organised a Wildlife Connections festival. This event was all about connecting people with nature and celebrating Britain’s wonderful wildlife; as well as show what incredible wildlife can be found right on your doorstep.

I love the Wildlife Connection project as it is all about creating connections from one wildlife friendly area to the next so that wildlife highways can be created in our neighbourhood, helping to protect our beautiful and precious wildlife.

I had lots of wildlife gardening to do first but after lunch I decided to take a walk down and have a look what was going on at the event. There was so many people enjoying the festival and kids were running around excitedly learning about the local wildlife in the nature reserve.  There were demonstrations on creating bee friendly gardens, making seed bombs; as well as the opportunities to build bird feeders, bug homes and toad abodes. There were local conservation and community organisations at the event too and it was really interesting to talk to them and find out about recording local wildlife etc..  There was also a nature based obstacle course, music and a solar powered cinema too.

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After picking up some wildlife leaflets, (and even got some in Welsh) I walked around the nature reserve that the zoo created a few years ago. This 2 acre site has been created with wildflowers, native trees, a wildlife pond and a grass area. Its lovely to see how its evolved already since it first opened.

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There was lots of activities happening within the nature reserve. Children sat on the grass listening to magical stories inspired by nature. There was pond-dipping, bug hunts and bird spotting.  I saw a drone’s eye view of the landscape and found out how drones are used to support conservation work and I watched the bees buzzing about the wildflowers.

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I am very blessed to have many green spaces, beautiful countryside, parks and nature reserves near where I live and I look forward to seeing how this new nature reserve evolves and ages with time. It will be a nice place to sit and spot the wildlife that comes to visit here. It will be a nice place to stroll around looking for signs of animal tracks  or just watching the bees buzzing amongst the wildflowers.

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It was brilliant to see so many people at the event and I look forward to hopefully seeing more local wildlife events at the nature reserve like camera trapping and surveys etc..and it would be nice to maybe see a bug hotel, hedgehog home or bat box up maybe.

The more people that become aware of their local wildlife the more people will hopefully start to care and make a difference in their community; inspiring more people to take action for native British species. Its easy to do a bit for nature where you live like, putting a CD size hole in your fence to help a hedgehog, planting wildflowers to help the bees, create a compost heap, a log pile or put a dish of water and food out for the birds.  Every bit helps 🙂

 

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Dinas Bran and the mysterious web

It was a beautiful warm sunny day and I decided to go for a walk around beautiful magical Llangollen in North Wales.

As I drove nearer to Llangollen, the hill on which castell Dinas Bran (Crows castle) sits, rose up from the horizon and called out to me to climb it.

The Welsh castle built about 1260, is situated on an old Iron Age hillfort and is 1,000 feet above sea level.

After a steep walk along the road from a car park by the canal, I reached what is known as ‘The Pancake’. This is a flat piece of land just before you start the steep climb up the hillfort. The views were already amazing from here and I couldn’t wait to see the fantastic views from the castle.

Half way up the hill I decided to have a rest and luckily there was a bench so I could rest my weary legs. As I sat there admiring the view of the Eglwyseg escarpment I noticed a gorse bush in front of me. It was absolutely covered in thick white cobwebs. I thought to myself that it must be one of those caterpillars that I’ve seen in the media that cover trees and shrubs in silk.

I got up to take a closer look when to my amazement I saw lots of tiny little red spiders about the size of a full stop, maybe smaller. I thought they must be spiderlings, but what kind of spider could make such a huge web? I took a photo and decided that as soon as I got home I would look it up in my books or internet and hopefully solve the mystery.

Spurred on by my new find and the ruined castle before me, I walked up to the top of the hillfort with a spring in my step.

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Wow! What a view! The castle is now a ruin which I think adds to the experience as you have a 360 degree view from the top. I saw a kestrel hovering over the field below and it was fascinating to look down on this beautiful bird instead of looking up into the sky to see one. It hovered so still looking for prey and its feathers glistened with a beautiful warm hue in the sunshine.

It was an awesome day and I can’t wait to return to walk to the top of the hill again.

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As for the mystery of the web…..

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I found out that they were red gorse  spider mites.

These half millimeter rusty red coloured mites live in colonies within silk that covers the gorse bush like a ghostly blanket. They don’t attack any other plant but can do damage to gorse, and some countries use them as biological control where gorse is seen as a highly invasive species. I find it fascinating to think that such tiny little creature can make such vast complex webs, and I am glad I got to see them whilst I was walking and learn a bit about them.

BBC~Great Welsh Parks

 

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At the weekend on BBC Two Wales there was a nature program called Iolo’s Great Welsh Parks, in which I featured showing Iolo Williams places of badger activity in Wepre Park, North Wales.

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It’s quite a weird experience to see myself on the TV screen but it was fun to take part in the program and an experience I shall never forget.

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I was excited that they contacted me, and I asked if I could help out with a section on badgers in the park. I absolutely adore badgers and it was important to me that people watching could learn a bit more about badgers and see how fascinating they are instead of just hearing about bad things like culls and TB. They are such beautiful intelligent creatures and it saddens me greatly to think of what is happening to them at the moment without real reason. I hope that there will be a great many more signatures on the petition set up by Simon King to stop the badger cull and make the government see that the cull isn’t working and is having no affect. You will find the e-petition here if you wish to sign it.

I loved looking for badger activity but it was a strange experience being filmed and, I was so nervous working with Iolo Williams being such a huge fan of his. We looked at badger tracks, latrines and I even got to go on a badger watch with him. Wildlife cameras were also set up about the park in order to capture footage of badger activity. I got to watch through the footage with Iolo and he showed me what he called, a ‘moon walking badger’  This was infact a badger gathering bedding and shuffling backwards with it. Badgers are such clean animals and change their bedding more often than humans change their bed sheets I bet. (See video clip from BBC Website)

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Iolo and the film crew, were wonderful to work with and it was great fun to be a part of it. Its fascinating  to see the enormous amount of work that goes into making a show; from the research, visits, planning, filming, editing etc… Its amazing to see how it all comes together and I will never look at at TV program the same again.

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Working with naturalist Iolo Williams, inspired me to rush out and buy a wildlife camera and see what wildlife was in my own garden as well as encouraging me to learn about wildlife in the Welsh language.