Friday, October 21, 2011

Buterflies and Underwater Exotics

Cate Barrow entertained us royally last night with three talks, one about Butterflies and two about underwater exotics all supported by her excellent photography

She described herself as not being a Butterfly expert, but though leveraging the expertise of others including our very own Jeff Curtis and by spending a lot of hours in the field she has already done very well on reaching her goal of photographing all the UK butterflies

After that insect fest she showed us some of the underwater work she's being doing in various parts of the world including New Zealand, Australia and the Maldives.  Fantastic pictures of sharks, loads of smaller fish and many of the varieties of underwater invertebrates such as crabs, corals and polyps or many kind. She also shared come of the complexities of taking pictures in the underwater environment

Some more of Cate's picture can be seen on the Bristol Underwater Photography Group website

For anyone who loves looking at really well executed pictures of wildlife she's already offered to entertain us again next year so we're already looking forwards

Danau Girang Field Centre

Benoit Goossens gave us a fascinating insight into how a new field centre can be a centre for some fascinating scientific work.

He came across the Danau Girang Field Centre as an empty building which had been developed with grant aid, but no longer term plan for its use had been put into place (how often do you hear such tales!)

He developed a collaborative plan for Cardiff University to get involved with the Sabah Wildlife Department and through seeking external sponsorship from other organizations and has developed the centre into a thriving centre for ecological studies

The centre opened in 2008 and has gone from strength to strength, and we were treated to a number of insights that have been gained by using state of he art camera systems that capture images day or night when there is movement

You can read more about the field centre on the Cardiff University Danau Girang Field Centre page

For those who are on facebook you can join their group

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fancy a trip to Bhutan?

Joan Andrews clearly did, and that is why we are able to let you know that we have added an extra indoor meeting to the 2011 programme and we will hear from Joan about her adventures on the 12th of December 2011 in the usual place at the usual time (see the programme page)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Valleys from Green to Black and Back

Dr. David Llewellyn gave us an excellent talk tonight about the history and environmental work going on in the Valleys Regional Park which can be see in great detail on their website

David is a captivating speaker and clearly passionate about the work he is doing in the projects initiative to co-ordinate, drive and promote activities related to the environment and heritage and associated tourism activities across the valleys of south Wales, working in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Heads of the Valleys and Western Valleys Regeneration Programmes, with marketing through the Valleys ‘Heart & Soul’ campaign, to change the reality and perceptions of the Valleys as a highly-desirable place to live, work and visit.

He also showed us many of the wonderful places you can visit as it says on the official Valleys tourism website "The world is just waking up to the fact that The Valleys are home to a captivating choice of attractions and places to visit"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Invitation so see some excellent pictures

We received this recently from Andy Rouse who many of you may know now lives in the Cardiff Area

Greetings All

To celebrate my 9th BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in 7 years and RSPB Cymru's Centenary, I have pleasure in inviting you to my first major exhibition in Cardiff. 50% of the proceeds will be used by the RSPB for conservation in Wales.

The exhibition will run at the art deco Washington Gallery in Penarth from October 3rd until the 16th.

We have arranged a special Family Preview Day on Sunday 9th October between 12 noon and 4pm. I will be giving a 20 minute talk on my award winning work at 1pm and will be there all afternoon to give an insight into the pictures shown at the exhibition. 

I guarantee that the images in the exhibition will be stunning and will inspire you no matter what your interest in wildlife or photography. There will be something for all tastes, I promise you that! It's a beautiful venue and I will hang some of my most famous and award winning work on its beautifully lit walls. 

Full details of the exhibition, location and a sneak preview of some of the images I will show can be found on my website page here -

I hope that you will be able to attend the preview on the 9th October, please feel free to bring friends and family and there is no need to get any special tickets. 

I look forward to inspiring you on the 9th October!

Best wishes

Andy Rouse
Wildlife Photographer

Photo used with kind permission of Andy

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Annual General meeting and Birding in the Balkans

The 2011 indoor seaason kiked off with our AGM and an excellent talk by Paul Bowden on Birding in the Balkans

Paul showed some exellent pictures and video in his short presetation on his trip to visit a friend and  felowe birder for a week in the sunshine - YES SUNSHINE !

Paul of rouce is not just a birder, but showed some really good pictures of the insects he saw along the way.

It was a real tonic to see some blue skies at this time of year 


Friday, September 2, 2011

2011 - 2012 Programme now on-line

As you can see on the Programme page above or on the website at our 2011-12 programme has now gone on-line

2011 Indoor meetings
Wed Sep 21 AGM followed by an Illustrated talk on Birding in the Balkans Paul Bowden
Tue Sep 27 The Valleys from Green to Black and Back Dr. David Llewellyn
Mon Oct 3 Danau Girang Field Centre, a research and Training Facility in a Tropical Rainforest in BorneoDr. Benoit Goossens.
Wed Oct 19 Butterflies in UK and Underwater exotics Cate Barrow
Thur Nov 3 Northern Territory and Queensland Margaret and John Samuel
Mon Nov 28 The Wildside Of Crime PC 3626 Mark Goulding
Wed Dec 7 Xmas Bash - Guest of Honour Dr Mary Gillham Members
2012 Indoor meetings
Wed Jan 18 Members Evening Members
Tues Jan 24 Small Can Be Beautiful, The Micro Moths of Glamorgan David Slade
Thurs Feb 9 Birds, Ecosystems and Climate Change Dr Rob Thomas
Tues Feb 21 The Caves of Cefn Meiriadog, Denbighshire , a Bishop Darwin, a Chimney Sweep, Landmines and Science Elizabeth Walker
Thurs Mar8 Parasites of The Eurasian Otter Ellie Sherrard- Smith
Tues Mar 27 Urban Tree and Woodland Management Cameron Lewis

Outdoor meetings
Sat Sep 17 10.00 H/FParc Tredelerch
SunJan 8 9.00 FBirdwatch, Channel ViewRob & Linda Nottage
SatFeb 25 10.00FOgmore, Geology Steve Howe
SunMar 25 10:00FBlaenavon, above and below the surface Rhian Kendall
SunMay 13 10.00 FRoath Park Tony Titchen
Jun 9/1010.00FWhitford, Gower Steve Bolchover
SunJul 1 9.30 FCowbridge & Siginstone Rob and Linda Nottage
WedJul 11 18.30HLisvane Mike Dean
SatAug 11 10.00FLeckwith Woods Ben Rowson
SunSep 16 10.00FAshton Court, Bristol Tony Titchen

Normally this would be posted to members with the AGM newsletter, but we've had a slight snag getting things printed this year and we will get the cards to you as soon as possible

In the mean time please spread the word to any of our members who are not on-line (or possible members who've not yet joined us) so that they can plan to come along and have some really good evenings fun during the darker months ahead

if you prefer just a list of the indoor meetings it can be found here
and if you want a poster to put up at work or somewhere local then that can be found here


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Obituary - Graham Duff (1939-2011)

It is with great sadness that I have to announce that Graham died on Thursday August 18th 2011, after a lengthy fight against cancer. Those who knew Graham will remember a 'gentle giant' with a lovely West Country accent and superb mutton chop side burns.

He was a long-standing member and active supporter of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society making contributions in many ways. He sat on the society council but was perhaps best known for his tireless technical support at the indoor meetings. Graham was also an accomplished nature photographer, a skill he acquired relatively recently and he entertained members of the society with vibrant talks from the trips he and Margaret had made around the globe.

Graham was also a long-standing member of the Glamorgan Bird Club. He attended many field trips and indoor meetings, as well as giving talks on his photographic trips in the UK and abroad. Graham designed the replacement Arthur Morgan hide at Kenfig National Nature Reserve, arranged supply of the materials from his own hardwood timber merchant firm that he ran in the Vale and organised the building of the hide. Graham was very diligent in keeping records of wildfowl counts on Roath Park Lake and helping out with the British Breeding Bird Survey annually.

Graham was one of the founding members of the Glamorgan Wildlife Photographic Club and we have run the club together over the last 6 years, with the help of several other members. Graham was instrumental in developing the programme to its current successful format and his dogged determination led to the launch of the club website late in 2009. This now contains a database of almost 600 photographs taken by club members, almost a quarter of these taken by Graham himself. I have worked closely with Graham over these last 6 years and he has contributed a tremendous amount to running the club, it will be strange for him not to be there.

Graham was also an active member of the local Cardiff Group of the RSPB and local groups of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, contributing widely to nature conservation and the overall appreciation of wildlife.

Graham, you will be greatly missed for these reasons and many others, and for just being you. I'm sure all those in the society who knew Graham will wish to convey their heartfelt condolences to Margaret Morgan.

Paul E. Bowden
Friend and Colleague
August 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Graham Duff

We bring the sad news that Graham Duff a long time member of the society and a valued friend to many of us has passed away following a battle with cancer on Thursday 18th August 2011

This was a shock to many of us as we had not heard that Graham was ill

I know that I personally will miss his cheerful demeanour and the discussions we had when we got together

We will post more information as we have it, in the mean time the society would like to pass on our condolcences to Margaret and to all of his family and friends

Andy Kendall

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Building stones walk date

If you have not yet read it in the newsletter or seen it on the website we can now confirm that the Cardiff bay Building stones walk is now set as

Thursday 11th August 2011 starting at 18:30 
Meet at the junction of Bute Street and James Street

Click on the location information below to see a map of the starting point

Chinese Flora

Recently returned from a botanical tour of Sichuan in western China.

Fantastic flora and scenery. Lillies and Thalictrums hanging over roads, Gentians thick underfoot, uncountable species of colourful Louseworts and tens of species of Primulas including the 'famed' Black Primula. Even had two species of 'Slipper' Orchids, (see Cypripedium tibeticum attached). Almost forgot the Meconopsis Poppies-Blue's, Red and Yellow, fantastic!

The mountainsides were often decorated with colourful Prayer flags, especially near the tops of passes and near the highly decorated Monastrys.

Highly recommend the trip if you can tolerate high altitude.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


What an absolute delight today was !

I'm certain that a full write-up will appear in due course in the newsletter and it will be written by someone with a much better botanical knowledge than me. However, for now, and maybe to whet your appetite for other events this summer here are some pictures and some thoughts from what was a fantastic day out for the 30 or so of us that made it to this event

First off the location. we were honoured to be allowed to walk around these private gardens and admire the house as well. This is a private house on land which has been owned by the Traherne family back to Henry VII. Most notable of the family were the Reverend John Traherne, who during the 19th Century was a scholar and collector of scientific manuscripts, and Sir Cennydd Traherne, who was Lord Lieutenant of Glamorgan from 1952 to 1974. We were lucky not to see any Cybermen on our visit

Next the trees and the leadership - Tony Titchen (in red shirt below) is rightly recognised for his excellent leadership of such events

Third the weather .. mind you we had to shelter in the shade sometimes as the skies were almost unbroken blue which at this time of year can be a little too much.

Thank goodness this was a tree walk as they provided the necessary shade in abundance. You can play spot the CNS member in this picture

And the trees were magnificent as well including this filbert (Corylus maxima)

And these fascinating resin oozing cones of Abies kawakamii


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Availability

In a recent post we told you of a new book Footpints in the Sands of Time telling the fascinating Life story of Colonel Morrey Salmon

A couple of updates to this are that there is a review of the book in the latest edition of Nature Cymru magazine by Well known Welsh ornithologist David Saunders, and we've also been told that the book is on-sale in the National Museum of Wales bookshop in Cathays Park so if you want to browse a copy it's now possible to get your hands on a copy more easily

We also still have copies of some of our society and May Gillham's publications - if you want to contact us you can see what's there by looking at the Publications Order Form


Friday, June 17, 2011


Members of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society, led by Bruce McDonald, strolled down the lanes around Wenvoe to see the hedgerow flora yesterday evening. An interesting range of plants were identified, including the Spiked Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum). This is its only established site in Wales, and flowering spikes were observed along a length of verge:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coryton Orchid in Flower

Regarding the post made recently about the unusual orchid at Coryton roundabout I made a return visit to see if the mystery orchid had flowered this lunch time and here it is in it's full glory. 

It is indeed looking like " Common Spotted Orchid Var.rhodochila"


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Unusual Orchid at Coryton

Regualr readers of our newsletters will remember the highlights that we've found on the Coryton Roundabout Nature reserve

This very unusual place in the middle of the largest roundabout in Wales has turned out to be one of the riches places we've surveyed and keeps throwing up surprises every time we visit.

What with Long Winged forms of Short Winged Conheads some years ago, and now Common Spotted Orchid Var.rhodochila being found and confirmed it's a waiting game to find out what is next.

We had wonderful sights of the Bee orchids and the white form of the Common Spotted Orchids around the roundabout this year as well as the usual sightings of the Twayblade and the Broad Leaved Helleborines.

Hybrids abounded with many Common Spotted / Southern Marsh crosses, and we found the Pyramidal as well, but for unusual, a candidate from this year's walk is this specimen which was unfortunalty not yet in flower, but had such vibrant purple leaves that it stood out from the surrounding specimens quite clearly

The upper leaves show some blotchyness reminiscent of the Common Spotted Orchid, but the lower leaves are almost completely purple

But their undersides are green

If anyone can shed any light on this and whether it's truly as unusual as those of us on the walk felt it was, we would be pleased to hear from you via email or simply add a comment to this posting


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mutant Foxglove

Hi all,

thought you may be interested in the attached photograph. It's the top flower of a Foxglove spike in our garden .In fact we have three other Foxglove plants in the garden all showing the same aberration.

Anyone out there have any ideas as to the cause?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Footprints in the sands of Time

Just published ... A new book about one of our most famous members

Colonel Harry Morrey Salmon is fondly remembered as one of our most illustrious former members, however many of us are now too young or recent a member to know him (including me which is a situation I regret because he seems to have been a truly inspirational figure)

As the book flyer says, he was Hailed as "Welsh Ornithologist of the century" and "Father of British Bird Photography". He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1971

We are therefore very happy to be able to promote a new book that has been published by members of his Family

You can download a flyer with full details of the book and how to order a copy by clicking here

He was treasurer of the National Museum of Wales which is an organization that the society has always had close links with and they now house his photographic collections

Having just read his obituary which can be found online here and a number of other on-line references to his illustrious military career (in both world wars) I can say that I will be getting a copy and hope to be able to bring you a review fairly soon


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Corals Caves and Caterpillars

And a few flowers of course

The trip on Sunday 16th May was a great success with a keen bunch of members, and some new fiends who will hopefully become members taking to the hills above Penwyllt in the Swansea valley. The walk was to take place in the Ogof Fynnon Ddu Nature reserve which was the first national nature reserve in the UK to be defined specifically because of it's caves. It does however contain a lot more than that as we were to see

After a brief introduction to the geology we headed up the tramway to the limestone pavement which was to be the feature of the day botanically.

Arriving there it was plain to see the difference botanically between the sheep grazed are outside the fencing, and the  area inside that was flourishing

But before we focused on that there was at least a moment to admire the superb corals in the limestone such as this colony which was nearly half a meter across

There were a number of plants we had come to see, but probably the most noteworthy for the site was the Hairly Greenweed (Genista pilosa)  which the society were asked to see whether it was still present on our last formal trip up some 15 years ago. Just as then we were able to find it and can report that there are a few patches so it looks healthy

As well as the plants we were able to find quite a few moth caterpillars, sunning themselves on the rocks. I believe this is some form of eggar Caterpillar and they were very common on the pavement   

We retreated from the top of the hill for our lunch because of some slight rain and took shelter in the entrance of Ogof Fynnon ddu which is the deepest ave in the UK when measured top to bottom .

As we were not fully equipped we were only able to shelter just inside the entrance and admire the scale of the passages

After this we descended to the old Silica brick works via the tram road and admired what man can achieve and how much of the landscape is not natural. Since returning home I have purchased the excellent Penwyllt book by Peter Burgess  which means I know a lot more about the site now and I should clearly have read it before I started

Oh well.. maybe next time


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unusual Bird Feeding Pictures

Isn't the Internet wonderful !

In terms of Wildlife photographers there are many excellent practitioners out there.  I have recently been entertained by 2 excellent photographers on the Olympus UK e-Group forum who have posted fascinating pictures of bird feeding behaviour

with many thanks to Peter and Peter I would like to ask if there is anyone who can comment on how usual or otherwise the following feeding behaviours are.

The first is from Peter Drury who is based in Portsmouth and posts wonderful wildlife pictures in his on-line gallery

The selection in question was entitled  Duck! There's a flying crab!  and can be seen in the e-group in detail where Peter explains how the Mallard picked the crab up and refused to give it away despite being mobbed by the Black Headed Gull.

As Peter says "The normal food of a Mallard is small aquatic invertebrates, seeds, roots, shoots and grain. A crab hardly falls into any of these categories.Comments welcome as always"

The second fascinating picture I have seen recently was from "PeterBirder" from Braintree in Essex who also posts excellent wildlife pictures in his on-line gallery

Peter posted a fascinating series of pictures showing a male Blackbird trying to feed a whole mouse to his offspring

Once again the full thread of pictures can be seen on the Olympus e-group

This Peter commented that "My take on all this is that the adult is inexperienced and possibly a "single dad" as we haven't seen the female or the third youngster that were around last week. I suspect that the mouse was killed by one of the local cats and "dad" saw this as an opportunity as worms are in short supply as "Andym" has suggested. I think that during the day one of the larger local birds, possibly the Sparrowhawk has taken the mouse".

Once again he would love to hear from anyone who has any experience of such behavior - please feel free to leave a comment here and we will pass it on to them

Their pictures and comments are re-posted here with their very kind permission permission and they retain full copyright over both

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recent Sightings

Been out and about recently photographing Snakes Head Fritillary in Wiltshire, Early Purple Orchids at Kenfig (plus a Small Blue Butterfly), and today Green Winged Orchids at Llantrisant, (see left). The latter were flowering amongst a mass of Cowslips.

Locally we have recorded many Orange Tips,Small Tortoishells, Green Veined Whites, Speckled Woods and Brimstones.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Whole Summer of Wildlife Fun Coming up

Now is a good time to be checking the website for the updates to the programme that have been made and making sure that all of our events are in your diary

Once again Bruce Mcdonald is doing a massively good job in arranging a whole summer of wildlife orientated entertainment with a host of events that are suitable for all ages and levels of experience

To make things easier the recent updates are given here, but to make sure it's all in your diary we really do suggest taking a look at the programme, or event better print out a copy of the programme and share it with your friends or print out a copy of the membership form and send us a an application so you make sure you are kept up to date with our programme
Sat 16 July 10:00 FParc Bryn Bach 340 acres of mixed grass, woodland and lake near Tredegar in the company of a local ranger Rangers
Thur 28 July 18:30 FHailey Park An evening walk with some sweep nets to see what insects we can find along with flowers and trees Members
Wed/Thu 10 or 11 August 18:30 FCardiff Bay Building Stones An evening stroll around Cardiff Bay looking at building stones and their geology. Date still to be finalised - please check the blog for details Lynda Garfield and Dave Wellings

if you are interested in any of the events, but not already a member we are happy to have you join us for a trial.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via the details given on the website

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pond Life - an almost alien beauty

It's nice this time of year to get up close and personal with the damp patch in the back garden we call the pond. This little beauty of a flower, oft overlooked, is a Bogbean.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

RHS Show

I thought this year’s RHS Show in Cardiff (8-10 April) was the best yet, after my visit on Friday. It had expanded to include two floral marquees, the show gardens and farmers’ market area, bandstand and “cafĂ© quarter”. Among the show gardens was Cardiff Council Ranger Service’s lovingly recreated road side verge (below) complete with tyre tracks and some litter to highlight the biodiversity of such habitats. The National Museum Wales stall featured a pot of 7 dandelion species – all found in the same Cardiff garden. There are well over 200 species of dandelion in the UK and, if the diagram showing the characteristics to look for is anything to go by they are not easily distinguished. The National Botanic Garden of Wales had information on Barcode Wales, a biodiversity project to identify unique DNA sequences for the entire native flora of Wales, which was the subject of a recent Cardiff Naturalists Society talk.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Butterfly Sighting

Last Saturday, (2.4.11), whilst excavating a new vejetable plot, I was delighted to see a Male Brimstone gently floating across the garden. This was the first Brimstone we've recorded in Morganstown since we moved into the area in 2008, so a first for us.

Compensation for the backache from digging out all the rubble 'kindly' left by the house builder.Now I've just got to get rid of it!

Phill Blanning

Friday, March 18, 2011

Shaping our City - Is there Room for Wildlife ?

As many of you will know the Cardiff City Council Local Development Plan (LDP) was withdrawn last year with accusations both sides on the reasons for that (I will not go into those this is not a political Blog Site)

What is of interest to all of us as Naturalists is the fact that the process is running again and the LDP Candidate Site Register has now been placed on-line by Cardiff City Council. at,3139,3154,5845,6189&parent_directory_id=2865

I would encourage you all to take a look at the document (it is a large document) but it is well broken down into sections where you can see the areas of the city you know well

A cursory look indicates that there are development proposals for an awful lot of open spaces within the city and whilst many of these will no doubt be ruled out as the process runs it will be important that the decision makers have access to as much information about the environmental values of the sites as possible

That is where people like us come in, we can ensure that they know of the value of valuable sites and therefore can make their decisions based on practical and factual information

As the process develops there will be an on-line system as well as a paper based system for responses and comments on different sites and a full consultation process

All I can say is if you plan to enjoy open areas within and around the city for the next 15 years you should take an interest and perform an active part in making sure that the best sites are protected and that development is directed towards the rest


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Buzzards and Butterflies

Glorious weather today enticed me to find the cross country route to Pentyrch from home.

Accompanied by soaring Buzzards and constant birdsong.I had glimpses of two Butterflies, the first I've seen this year, but the brief glimpse was not enough to identify them.

Passed large clumps of Primroses, abundant Celandines and a few Violets.

Crossed a large field with gambling newborn Lambs and wonderful views of the Garth across the valley and eventually entered Pentyrch.

I headed for the Lewis Arms to quench my thirst which was when the realization hit me that my pockets were empty!

A great walk which I intend repeating, but next time with some cash in my pocket!

Phill Blanning

Conservation and Research at the National Botanic Garden of Wales

Dr Natasha de Vere, Head of Conservation and Research at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, talked about the Garden’s science projects at last night’s meeting of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society.

The garden opened in May 2000, near Carmarthen. It gained a molecular biology laboratory last year. Its flagship science project is called Barcode Wales. Dr Vere told the meeting that the aim of the project was to DNA barcode all the native flowering plants in Wales (1,143 species). The project is due to be completed by the summer and will make Wales the first nation to achieve this biodiversity goal.

The DNA for most species is extracted from herbarium specimens, supplemented by field collection. Two genes (rbcL and MatK) act as a unique species barcode. Once the data has been published, it will be made available for numerous applications, including forensics and the identification of plants used in food and herbal mixtures. A current project is identifying what flowers bees visit, by identifying the pollen collected. As part of the funding for this project, the public can select a Welsh plant and sponsor its barcoding.

The Welsh Rare Plants Project at the Garden provides the scientific research needed to conserve the most threatened native plant species in Wales. Current projects involve wild cotoneaster, endemic whitebeams, spreading bellflower and wild thistle.

A National Nature Reserve (Waun Las) is situated adjacent to the gardens. Grassland management and restoration is a key goal. A species-rich area of grassland, for example, was successfully transplanted from a school playing field that was being redeveloped into the reserve. This National Nature Reserve is of particular importance, according to Dr Vere, because it is also a working organic farm. The reserve is therefore a model of how agriculture and biodiversity can co-exist. The farm has Welsh black cattle and two breeds of sheep. Meat from the animals is used in the Garden’s restaurant and is sold to the public.

The Garden also grows its own food in a series of trial allotments. These also contribute to the Garden’s extensive education programme (schools and adult lifelong learning). One horticultural project involves looking at the medicinal properties of tea plants, in particular identifying the bioactive component that suppresses Clostridium difficile (a bacterium that causes infections within hospitals).

The centre-piece of the Garden is the largest single-span glasshouse in the world, holding an important collection of Mediterranean flora. Over 12,500 plant accessions can be found in the Garden. A new arboretum will focus on temperate woodland trees (e.g., from South America); while a library, archives and herbarium have recently been established. The Garden is also forging many international links. Dr. Vere noted valuable exchanges with South Korea, where the new national botanic gardens has been modeled in part on the Garden (and will include three domed greenhouses like the one in Wales).

The National Botanic Garden of Wales has therefore come a long way in a decade. In its fourth year there was a financial crisis that came close to shutting the place down, but since then the Garden has gone from strength to strength. A third of its funding comes from the Welsh Assembly, a third from visitor income and a third from other sources such as fundraising and corporate hire. Dr Vere stressed the important contribution made by students and volunteers at the garden.

For further information on the National Botanic Garden of Wales:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Beware - Wild Daffodils Approaching

From one of our members

Here are two snaps I took on my 'phone of  Wild Daffodils (Pseudo Narcissus Lobularis) at Coed y Bwl Wood, Castle Upon Alun, last Sunday.  They are not yet in their full glory, but the banks should be ablaze within the next fortnight.


Sounds like a good idea for a walk to me


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Effects of Cleaning Stations on Dark Damselfish Territorial Behaviour & Nova Scotia

Our 2011 Biosciences Prize winner Zalina Bashir Ali gave us an absolutely superb presentation tonight and totally typified the type of excellence that we were hoping would be inspired by our award.

With some superb photographs of the reef animals taken on the Cardiff University Biosciences trip to Tobago she  gave us a very clear description of the work that she had done and the theories that had been considered in her work

Zalina receiving her certificate and award from Mike Dean Secretary of the Cardiff Naturalists Society

Zalina giving her excellent presentation

The Cardiff Naturalists Society is proud to award a prize for the best 2nd year Student fieldwork in memory of our former member Professor Ursula Henriques.

Full Details of the award and information about Professor Henriques can be found Here

Following this talk in lieu of the planned main speaker we had another excellent presentation from Margaret and John Samuel who stepped in at late notice to give us a real insight into an area that few of us have considered visiting, but is a real nature and history lovers paradise

We would like to thank both of our speakers tonight for a most entertaining eventing even if it did not go entirely as planned


Monday, February 28, 2011

The Natural History of Illicit Drugs

Jeff Champney-Smith said he wasn't a botanist at the start of this very informative talk, but we saw a very different side of many plants tonight

From cannabis to opiods, from kath to Licking toads and everywhere in between

Jeff explained how these are processed from the raw materials and how the chemistry of some of them gives rise to many of the harmful and indeed the medicinal effects

The question and answer session at the end  allowed members to get the answers to many questions they had on the whole area of life that many of us luckily never see

Signs of Spring

Noticed Dog's Mercury for the first time today, at the edge of our local Beech Wood in Morganstown. The Woodland floor here is rapidly greening up as the Ramsons push through.

Whilst on the opposite side of the road alongside, Pugh's Garden Centre .was a 'line' of Scarlet Elf Cup running along an old tree root.
Also spotted a few Celandines over the last few days.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Merthyr Mawr & Candleston Castle

A small group of us enjoyed a wonderful walk in the spring sunshine today on the walk led by Stephen Howe

A full write up will appear in the newsletter in due course, but to when your appetite for that here's a couple of pictures from today

Candleston Castle (Actually a fortified Manor House)

European race Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo resting on a dead tree in the middle of the River Ogmore

Many thanks to Stephen Howe for a most enjoyable day out


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sightings in the City

From Phill Blanning one of our very active members...

Hi Andy,

a couple of things for the Blog.

Last weekend I was walking past the Morganstown allotments heading home, and found myself walking alongside a young Hedgehog. Completely unfazed by my presence. I watched him snuffling about for a while making sure he didn't stray into the road. But he wandered off into the allotments.

I wonder if he'd been woken early from hibernation by disturbance in the allotments.

Secondly, the Peregrines are back at the City Hall. I was practically buzzed by, presumably a courting pair, on Monday as I walked past the Law Courts.



So remmber to put your hard hats on in the city centre and mind out for heyghoge underfoot


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Ecology and Conservation of the African Wild Dog

African Wild Dog,
Picture used under
GPL Licence

As the title suggests we had a talk about the African Wild Dog, but that simple description barely does justice to the informative and entertaining presenter that is Dr Dan Foreman of Swansea University.

Dan started with an overview of the evolution of mammals and number of carnivorous species of mammals on the planet because those are his field of expertise and his passion.

He explained to us how the dogs differ from other carnivorous groups and how they specialize. The African Wild Dog for instance loving the shrubby wooded areas.

Feeding, Breeding habits and whole social infrastructures came into the mix as we listened intently to tales of matriarchal societies of incredibly wide ranging creatures

Dan's passion for these wonderful animals is clear and he gave an excellent picture on why they need to be conserved properly as part of an extensive and working ecosystem and not in small artificial reserves

With a lively round of discussion and questions at the end our expert managed to deliver a whole load of things to think about and a whole load of entertainment all rolled into one

To read more about Dan and his Work please take a look at his home page at the University of Swansea where you can read how he was given a Distinguished Teaching award. and we're really not surprised.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Panama - More than just a canal

If you were there you know how entertaining it was... if not let me inform

Rob and Linda Nottage gave their one of their usual excellent presentations absolutely filled with information and excellent pictures of their travels in Panama in 2009

It seems even lunchtime downpours and an in vasion by Army Ants (rapidly evicted) were unable to dampen the enthusiasm for our intrepid two, and the range of birds and insects they saw would put this into the top of many of our lists of places to go. There are challenges too.. Many flowers and butterflies not even our intrid duo could identify.

Their trip was a 2 centre trip organized through Canopy Tower and from that presentation I think many of our members will be seriously considering it as a potential future holiday... I may need to invest in another even longer lens for such a trip however so it could end up expensive


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BCRA 22nd Cave Science Symposium - Cardiff

Craig y Ffynnon

Not a CNS event, but one that many of our members are already involved with that others may like to be aware of

The South Wales Geologists Association / British Cave Research Assocation event the 5th and 6th march.

On the 5th there will be a symposium of talks with an optional visit to the museum to see some of the cave related collections and exhibits in Geology, Archaeology and Zoology. The event starts at 9:00 and continues until 17:00 with the museum trip until 19:00 The symposium incudes a range of talks on cave science and there will also be a selection of poster presentations. The programme has been themed towards the geology and Archaeology of Welsh Caves, but some covering international sites as well.

A Whole load of updates on the programme

Details have just been updated on the Programme page on the main website ... for those of you now routinely tuning in here le't make it easy for you

Sat 8 January 9.00 FCardiff Birdwatch Annual birdwatch Rob & Linda Nottage
Sat 26 February 10.00 FCandleston Looking out for anything from Geology to Ornithology Steve Howe
Sat 26 March 10.00 FGower, Southgate Voted one of the best views in Wales we shall be looking for Yellow Whitlow Grass - Gower is its only site in the UK - and we will of course look out for any other wildlife.  
Sat 16 April 10.00 FCardiff Bay Postponed from last year because the Ely footbridge was not ready this is our first circumnavigation of Cardiff Bay covering just over 6 miles. Birds and some early Spring vegetation.  
Sun 15 May 10.00 FPenwyllt Flowers, Caves, Limestone Pavements and ex-industrial landcapes Andy Kendall & Bruce McDonald
Mon 6 June 18:30 ECoryton Roundabout A public walk as part of Biodiversity week. Always popular, this stroll around Coryton roundabout should have orchids in abundance along with other wildlife  
Thu 16 Jun 18.30 EWenvoe A wander around country lanes near Wenvoe hopefully including The Spiked Star of Bethlehem at its only known site in Wales Bruce McDonald
Sat 25 Jun 10.00 FHeritage Coast A linear walk from Nash Point to Southerndown along the cliffs looking at all wildlife. Will need to be booked as transport is being arranged Rob & Linda Nottage
Sat 2 July 10.00 FTennant Canal - Swansea We shall be visiting the Tennant Canal and Pant-y-Sais Fen in the company of a leading botanist Charles Hipkin
Sun 3 July 10.00 FCoedarhydyglyn A tour of this private arboretum led by a trees expert Tony Titchen
Sat 16 Jul 10.00 FParc Bryn Bach Details to follow Rangers

If you need any more updates then contact Bruce or any other committee member via the Contact Details

Best regards

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rearranged talk - Dan Foreman - The ecology and conservation of the African Wild Dog

Tuesday 22nd February 2011

The long awaited second attempt at this talk from Dan Foreman
Many will remember the blizzard that occurred last time Dan tried to give us this talk  
The good news is there are no Weather warnings this week

The even longer awaited third attempt at this talk.
Dan has now recovered from his Flu and is raring to go
Please pass on the news to any members who are not email regulars
and who may not have tuned in to the blog yet

the African wild dog is an iconic carnivore that is walking a tightrope of extinction. This talk will delve into the social ecology of this wonderful predator and discuss the problems this (and many similar species) are facing throughout the world”

The meeting will be in Room D.106 on 1st floor of the
UWIC Llandaff Campus
Western Avenue

Meeting begins At 7:30

Otters in Cardiff

We were pleased to receive this email from one of our members (Pauline Peregrine) recently who took a walk in Easrern Cardiff

"I don't know if you keep records of sightings - but would like to tell you that we saw an otter in the River Rhymney yesterday!  Clearly, I don't want to be too specific on the location for obvious reasons!  We were delighted to see the Otter - closest sighting we've ever had!"

The simple answer is yes we do like to keep records especially of unusual sightings and we would love to tell you about more of them here so we encourage people to let us know and also possibly record them directly with SEWBrec via their recording form at

We know that the SEWBrec team keep in touch with information from the society so if you prefer to just tell us that's not problem
In the event of finding a dead otter, please telephone 08708 506506 (Environment Agency) and ask for your nearest conservation / biodiversity officer. You will be asked for the location of the otter and some other basic information.

The Cardiff Otter project investigate dead otters to determine cause of death and how that relates to their lifestyles. You can read more about such at the Cardiff Otter project website


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