Well I’m back after a festively happy Christmas and New Year, and I’ve been hard at it through the snow and wild weather! Thought you may like this post-Christmas robin who was keen to be photographed and fed at RSPB Conwy last week!
The FSC annual conference at Rhyd y Creuau was a blast! I joined it for the second day, when we were given a great range of local activities/ places of interest to visit. I chose RSPB Conwy, where we were guided round by an extremely knowledgeable and dedicated volunteer, who takes groups around every Saturday. This amazing site was created less than 25 years ago from the waste dug out from the road tunnel under the river Conwy. For such a new site, it has settled quickly into an apparently well established site, has a team of 80 volunteers and boasts a plethora of waders and migrant and coastal birds. Follow this with a hearty meal in a gazebo, a ceilidh band and a fancy dress theme (“environmental issues and their solutions”)……..well you can imagine!!!
We had a productive TCV Showcase shared call between all of us trainees, and that seemed to set us nicely on our course for planning the BIG event on February 13th…(don’t forget to pencil it in). The speakers we have invited are past Natural Talent trainees, current supervisors and TCV staff. We will be giving a flavour of what we have been up to all year, plus providing individual workshops in the afternoon. It’s being held at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and we are hoping for a good turnout.
In mid December, I returned to my old Natural Network stomping ground in Chester, and called a meeting of the Friends and interested others, to firm up an idea that they had been mulling over for a while. We had three members of the Friends group, a local councillor, a local tree carver, a local heritage organisation and a local community artist. We had a very constructive meeting, with lots of brilliant ideas and buckets of “can do” attitude! At the end of this, we had established that the Friends group would like to have a project happening in the park next year, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. The project will take the form of a series of wooden engraved poppies (each with the name of a fallen soldier, as written on the local war memorial). These will signpost a route from the war memorial to the park, where people will be directed to a bench (handcarved from a local hardwood fallen tree; hence the project title ”Fallen for the Fallen”), which will overlook a field of cornfield native wildflowers and poppies (traditionally hand sown by local volunteers and school children). In addition, local school children will be involved in a related art project, and their work will be displayed in the hospital next to the park. In the summer, during the annual “Picnic in the Park”, a local theatre group will re-create a field hospital which will showcase the use of native herbs and wildflowers in medicine during the First World War, and I will provide an interactive stand about the use and importance of sphagnum moss; (historically, currently and for the future).
Following this amazing meeting, I had my work cut out to produce a bid for application to “Grow Wild” by January 15th. A lot of hard work and consultation ensued, and I handed it in well before the deadline! Fingers crossed that we are successful. The money will not cover the whole project, and so I am also supporting the Friends to follow other bid sources for themselves.
Once that was completed, and I’d fitted in lots of Christmas festivities in Wales, England and Scotland, it was suddenly 2018! Here are a few shots from near home in north Wales.
The year kicked off with a great Winter tree id course in Betws y Coed, run by Dan Thomas for the Snowdonia society. He had a very clear style, and gave us great tips for identifying 90% of the trees of North Wales. Add to that the roaring fire of Ty Hyll and a crisp icy day, and it was just perfect!
I have not neglected the mosses either! Lucia Ruffino suggested that interested members of the North Wales Non Flowering group could assist her with identifying some of her samples from the past year. We enthusiastically agreed, and Catharine Moss (ideally named) also suggested that we form a study group, with each member learning about particular species, and sharing it with the group. Before we knew it, we were signed up for the year! We have spent three very enjoyable days in the fading splendour and comfort of Pensychnant Wildlife Trust (thanks to Julian for making the fire and the tea!), where Lucia has cheerfully shared her knowledge of slide making and the nuances of id with us. I have found it a very welcoming and supportive group who couldn’t be more supportive of a new learner like me!
I was delighted to find I’ve been accepted on to the FSC online Identiplant course, which will run throughout next year…so even though my time seems to be rapidly coming to an end at FSC, I won’t lose the links!
Finally…A big welcome to Holly Dillon, who has just started with us as the new Natural Talent trainee! She will be studying spiders, harvestmen and pseudoscorpions for the year. If she has half the fun that I’ve had, she’ll be having a great time!
As always, my grateful thanks to FSC, TCV and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for making this year a possibility.