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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