Issue 49 – Winter 2013

David, the most famous Welsh Cuckoo
The pioneering Welsh cuckoos of 2012 faced a tough autumn after an appalling summer. Eighteen months on, David, tagged at Tregaron in Ceredigion, is the lone representative of the principality. He’s spending the winter in a forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo and sending information to the BTO’s cuckoo team every couple of days. GRAHAM APPLETON explains how David is going to help us to conserve this fast-disappearing and iconic species.
Swifts – life on the wing
Swifts exert a unique fascination over people, and yet their extraordinary lifestyle makes them exceptionally hard to study. The importance of doing so, and of establishing a swift ‘inventory’ is underlined by disturbing evidence of recent population declines, as STEPHEN BLADWELL explains.
In defence of wild land – belonging in a Welsh landscape
The John Muir Trust is making its first land purchase in Wales. STUART BROOKS, its Chief Executive, explains its plans and why Carreg y Saeth Isaf is now his favourite wild place in Wales.
Greenland white-fronted geese – parents par excellence
At this time of year the Dyfi estuary welcomes a very special visitor – the Greenland white-fronted goose. One striking aspect of its behaviour is the length of time which parents and offspring stay together. But all is not well, as STEPHEN BLADWELL explains: its numbers are in serious decline, a legal ban on hunting has been missed, so any sightings in Wales of this handsome goose would be welcomed.
Thinking and talking in the trees – the Llais y Goedwig Gathering 2013
Community woodlands are a growing phenomenon in Wales, bringing innumerable benefits to people and wildlife. For almost a decade woodland community groups have operated under an umbrella group, which decided to hold an open-air gathering in 2013. It was a chance for woodland groups to share their stories and develop a common vision, as DAVID WILLIAMS reports.
Traditional orchards – a new habitat map for Wales
As natural habitats go, there are very few that are as inviting for people as they are for the wildlife they support. Traditional orchards are not only a great place to see woodpeckers and find rare beetles, they are an ideal space for quiet reflection and the source of probably our finest home-grown grub. STEVE ORAM reports on a project to put Welsh orchards on the map and keep them alive in the landscape.
Golden plover; harnessing modern technology
A characteristic and appealing bird of the Welsh uplands, the golden plover is in trouble. Finding out what changes in the environment may be responsible for this decline, and understanding more about the behaviour and needs of a very mobile species, is far from easy. However, new technology, allied to old-fashioned fieldwork, may provide some answers, as MICK GREEN, HEATHER CRUMP, TONY CROSS and PAUL LEAFE explain.
The sturgeon in Wales


The sturgeon only appears occasionally in Wales, but when one of these fish is caught, it is a notable  occasion, and usually hits the local and national press. DUNCAN BROWN, Llên Natur project co-ordinator enourages people to document wildlife and the natural environment, conduct research, interpret wildlife records and note inidividual sightings of sturgeon in Wales.

This article is written in Welsh. You can read a translation here

In my backyard - 'Inspired by Nature' writing competition runner-up

Cwm Eigiau, Craig yr Ysfa, Carnedd Llewelyn… ROB COLLISTER gets on his ‘intermediate technology’ (his bike) in the Conwy valley.

Field notes

Martin Bailey encounters a red squirrel


Birds at large

Welsh avifauna

Siân Whitehead


Marine Matters


Can ecosystems be re-balanced while fish go with chips?

Ivor Rees

Book reviews

The Breeding Birds of North Wales by Anne Brenchley, Geoff Gibbs, Rhion Pritchard & Ian M Spence

Birds – coping with an obsession by Derek Moore

The Secret Lives of Puffins by Dominic Couzens & Mark Sisson

52 Wildlife Weekends by James Lowen

Discoveries in science

Interesting insights from the National Museum Wales

Shovelhead worms of Wales

Kate Mortimer & Andrew Mackie


Mammals round up

Mammal news from around Wales

Otters, deer and the Mammal Monitoring Network

Frances Cattanach

Plants at large

Wales Fungus Day at the National Botanic Garden of Wales

Bruce Langridge

Woods and forests

News from Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales

Ancient trees – help on the way?

Rory Francis