Archives for October 2009

Hallowe'en, a dark and scary forecast

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 14:54 UK time, Friday, 30 October 2009


Now if you're out celebrating Hallowe'en tomorrow evening there's some scary weather on the way!

It should start off dry but it won't last, so make sure you wear waterproof makeup or stick a pumpkin on your head! ;)

We'll all see some rain this evening. This will clear later tonight leaving Saturday mostly dry and brightening-up with some sunshine.

It will feel mild though with highs between 14 and 17 Celsius and a southwesterly breeze.

Hallowe'en will start dry but rain will spread across the whole of Wales later in the evening and overnight.

For the first time ever, Cardiff Castle is inviting ghouls, and ghosts into the Castle grounds.

Spooky tours and tales, strange noises and mysterious figures will inhabit the Castle's secret tunnels and battlement walkways take a tour ...if you dare!

Sunday will start very wet. 1 to 2 inches of rain are possible in places with a risk of localised flooding.

The rain will move through leaving Sunday afternoon drier and brighter with a few blustery showers.

The wind is picking up too, becoming fresh to strong with a risk of gales on exposed coasts and hills and it will turn cooler on Sunday.

Next week looks very changeable. Some sunshine but with showers or longer spells of rain at times and feeling noticeably cooler as well with temperatures closer to the seasonal average.

Have a ghoulish weekend!


Too cool for school?

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 14:40 UK time, Friday, 30 October 2009

It's felt mild if not warm this week and Paul Harris from Cwmllynfell, Swansea has been in touch.

He wants to know "what the extent of 'mild', is in the context of weather reporting.

We hear of mild, very mild and even extremely mild (surely an oxymoron) but when does mild become warm or even cool?

Well Paul, the use of the word 'mild' is a subjective description, normally used in winter but it creeps into forecasts at other times of the year too, and there is a rule of thumb which forecasters like myself try to follow.

In Wales the average maximum temperature in October is about 13 Celsius.

A temperature 2 or 3 degrees above this should be descibed as mild. 4 or 5 degrees above is very mild and 6 degrees or more above is exceptionally mild if not warm.

Of course, temperature is a personal thing and it also depends on humidity and the wind speed. A temperature of 15 Celsius could feel cool if the humidity is low and there is a strong wind blowing. In winter, we sometimes use the word wind-chill in forecasts.

Find out more about wind chill on BBC Weather

Yesterday temperatures on Anglesey reached 19 Celsius making it exceptionally mild for the time of year but there is a big change on the way.


Autumnal weather changes

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 12:54 UK time, Thursday, 29 October 2009

The weather's in a quiet mood at the moment with high pressure to the east of Britain and southerly winds bringing warm-up from Spain, but there's a big change on the way as we head into November.

A cold front currently over Ireland will move eastwards tomorrow bringing rain to Wales later in the day.

This will clear leaving Saturday largely dry with some sunshine and lighter winds.

BBC Weather graphic for the weekend of Oct 31, 2009:

It should be dry for Halloween but on Saturday night and into Sunday a deepening area of low pressure will track across Ireland and Scotland bringing a dose of wet and windy weather.

A spell of heavy rain is likely accompanied by strong to gale force winds, so the leaves will be falling from the trees and blowing around.

The rain clearing to sunshine and blustery showers.

Next week looks much more unsettled and colder too with temperatures closer to the seasonal average.


BBC Weather

Spoonbill arrives in Newport

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 11:26 UK time, Thursday, 29 October 2009


This is probably old news by now amongst the bird watching community but a juvenile spoonbill has been spotted in Newport recently.  

It was down near the iron bridge and feeding hungrily by all accounts. The last reported sighting was on Monday, 26 October.


These photos have come in from Richard Crossen who runs the Pembrokeshire bird blog.


Have you seen it lately? Let me know when and where in the comments area below.



Spoonbills on the RSPB website

Fallstreak holes

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 11:12 UK time, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Mike from The Cloud Appreciation Society has been in touch re: my last blog on strange cloud formations.

Apparently it's know as 'Fallstreak holes' in cloud circles.

Fallstreak holes on Wikipedia:

"A fallstreak hole (also: hole punch cloud and punch hole cloud) is a large circular gap that can appear in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds.

Such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of ice nucleation particles.

A fallstreak hole. Image courtesy of The Cloud Appreciation Society:

When a portion of the water does start to freeze it will set off a domino effect, due to the Bergeron process, causing the water vapour around it to freeze and fall to the earth as well. This leaves a large, often circular, hole in the cloud.

It is believed that a disruption in the stability of the cloud layer, such as that caused by a passing jet, may induce the domino process of evaporation which creates the hole".

So there you have it - another mystery solved.

Don't forget to get in touch if you see any unusual weather formations and I'll feature them in the blog.


Strange clouds over Crofty

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 16:15 UK time, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sometimes you see some strange cloud formations in the sky, like this photo taken by Mrs Ali Collins.

It was taken over Crofty on Gower. I think the hole is in Altocumulus clouds looking up towards Cirrus clouds above.


After a little help from colleagues at the Met Office, we concluded that the hole in the Altocumulus clouds could either be caused by the distrail from a circling aircraft, or descent in mountain waves.

If you take an usual photograph of a cloud, please send it in and you never know - I might be able to show it on the telly!


The cloud appreciation society

BBC - Types of clouds

Woman goes bananas on Anglesey

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 09:42 UK time, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sorry, that should have read woman 'grows' bananas on Anglesey but I wanted to grab your attention. ;)

But yes it's true...

Kathryn Selfe and her husband have been successfully growing a wide range of exotic fruits including mangos, limes and of course, bananas. Their secret? Polytunnels...

Huw Jenkins, our community reporter has the full story.

Some quick banana facts:

  • Banana comes from the Arabic word for finger - 'banaana' or 'banaan'.
  • In the West, only the Germans eat more bananas than us.
  • Some banana trees keep on producing fruit for 100's of years.


More from North West Nature

Banana facts

1913 tornado

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 15:26 UK time, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Some of you may have been wondering where I'd disappeared to recently?

Well, I was on holiday in Germany last week, visiting Berlin, Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria. Great food but the beer didn't agree with me!

The weather there was unseasonably cold so I was glad I packed my scarf and gloves - there was even a covering of snow on the Alps.

Here in Wales, it feels more like late summer than autumn at the moment.

Southerly winds are bringing warm air northwards from Spain and North Africa.

I don't think we'll break any records, however, temperatures are above average - typically 16 to 18 Celsius this afternoon; the average daytime maximum for this time of year is 13 Celsius.

There is a noticeable breeze today though but the weather was much more severe on this day in 1913, when one of the deadliest tornadoes ever to strike Britain wreaked havoc.

One witness described it as "roaring like a train in the Severn Tunnel".

Edwardsville near Merthyr Tydfil was particularly badly hit, a miner was carried 1300 feet, thrown onto the ground and killed; another 5 died - the highest ever death toll from a tornado in Britain - and many others injured.

Don't worry, no tornadoes are expected in Wales in the next few days, it's going to stay very mild with some rain and stronger winds expected by the end of the week.


The tornado, storm and research organisation website

Read more about Derek's encounters with tornadoes

Fungi film from Flickr

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 10:32 UK time, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Last Friday I asked you all to get out there and film some fungi. It was a quiet weekend so what the heck?! ;)

They may not be the most exciting things in the world to film but at least they don't move! If you've seen one moving, please stop reading this and go straight to your local GP.

It also makes a nice change to see them in their natural habitat (which you don't always get from a photo), especially if it's a macro shot.

As I suspected, Gale 'queen of fungi' from our BBC Wales Flickr group has pipped everyone to the post and submitted our very first clip:

Clip 2: I think this is bleeding tooth fungus. Can anyone confirm?

Keep sending them in to Flickr.



'350' Snowdon protest

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 14:32 UK time, Monday, 26 October 2009

On October 24, '350' protests took place in 170 countries all over the world as a reminder for world leaders meeting at December's, Copenhagen climate change conference that people all around the world care about the issue of climate change.

Here is what happened at Snowdon. Words and photos by our guest blogger - Huw Jenkins.

  • Saturday, 24 October: Rhyd Ddu car park in the rain.
I'd arrived early to make sure I got a parking space but I needn't have worried, fair-weather friends had taken the forecast to heart.

At 9am around 40 of us walked past a BBC cameraman, oddly preoccupied with filming our boots instead of the '350' banners! And started up the path to Snowdon.

We were one of many protests around the world aimed at bringing attention to the excessive levels of carbon leading to climate change - 350 parts per million. Okay but at 385 and rising, big problems lie ahead...

Rod Gritten:

Our plan was to form a human ring around Snowdon, 60 feet beneath the summit at the 3,500 foot contour line.

By coincidence the circumference at this height is 350 metres. Our intrepid leader and a couple of other mountaineering types carried ropes to abseil down the steep side.

There was even talk of someone doing a fly past on a hang glider to film us in our fluorescent jackets, linking arms!

The journey up will not be remembered for the views, with low cloud disguising the steep drop either side of the ridge and 70 to 80 mph winds battering us.

Heavy boots were being blown several inches from the intended footstep but eventually Hafod Eryri beckoned us out of the swirling mist.


Trains had been cancelled - the wind being double the maximum force for safe operation. Rain had penetrated everywhere apart from the waterproof bag of dry clothes which I gratefully changed into.

Other walkers and fellow protesters converged on the cafe which was doing a brisk business in hot drinks.

Our plan was discussed and discretion being the better part of valour, we abandoned the ropes and opted to encircle the summit from just above the cafe.

A long red ribbon was unfurled and snaked up into the sky as people grabbed hold of it and walked it round the rocks.


The banner on a single stick flapped furious whilst the pair holding a banner between two poles were almost blown from the top.

A brief pose for photos with one hand on the ribbon and a fist punching into the storm then time to pack up and descend.

Had there been but 350 parts per million of carbon would it have been a fine day? No.

But this is a humbling place from which to experience the extremes of climate with wind speeds of up to 200 mph and 5 metres rainfall per year - it makes me realise how strong the powers of nature can be and that we mess things up at our peril.

Huw Jenkins

Watch the event on You Tube

COP15 - United Nations Climate Change Conference - Copenhagen 2009

Rare birds warming to Wales?

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 16:35 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

Here's a nice little piece about how, rare birds are beginning to establish themselves in Wales as our climate begins to warm up.

Find out more and listen to the interview on BBC Local - South East Wales.

You may remember the blog I did on the rare glossy ibis which was sent in to our Flickr group?

No, not literally! It was a photo...But we are seeing more and more unusual birds appearing here.

I remember when we had a photo of a hoopoe sent in from Llandovery of all places about 3 years ago.

There aren't many more exotic looking birds you could ever hope to see in Wales than a hoopoe, with it's amazing pink plumage and head crest.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next 20 years or so...

A colleague of mine mentioned he'd seen a shearwater whilst visiting the Isle of Man last weekend?!

I thought they'd be long gone by now, on their way back to South America but he seemed to be fairly sure, and pointed out that he was with some locals who verified it.

I still think he was drunk but the jury is out on that one!

Perhaps the warmer weather has delayed some birds from leaving quite so soon at the end of the summer?

As for visitors - we're currently getting lots of blackbird 'imposters' from Northern Europe, fleeing the Scandinavian winter.

You can tell them apart from our 'resident' blackbirds as they appear to be less settled in your garden and can often be seen acting suspiciously...use your imagination. ;)

You might also see them hanging out amongst flocks of redwing and fieldfare which are beginning to appear on the east coast. Chris Peckham was talking about this on Autumnwatch recently.

If you're a keen bird watcher or wildlife photographer then perhaps you'd like to let me know what unusual species you've come across, so far this year?

Keep an eye out


Fungi films on Flickr

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 13:03 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

I've laid down the gauntlet. Now it's up to you to respond...

See what you can film over the next week or so and send them in to our Flickr group.

I reckon the 'Queen of Fungi' - Gale, could come up trumps on this one! She's submitted some fabulous photos over the years.

Take a look at her fungi photo set for inspiration.

I'll be featuring the best ones in this blog as we go.

And just a word of warning - don't physically touch any fungi that you film, unless you really know what you're doing as there are many poisonous varieties out there!

Happy hunting


Autumn colour

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 12:39 UK time, Thursday, 22 October 2009

We've been getting some great photos sent into our BBC Wales nature Flickr group lately.

This one epitomises autumn - brightly coloured leaves, red berries bare trees and of course a grey squirrel tucked in amongst it all.

Image by Keith Evans:

Download the High Res version


Blue Whale killed in California

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 12:33 UK time, Thursday, 22 October 2009

Not Wales nature related as sadly we don't see them off our coastline but interesting nevertheless.

Sad to see such a magnificent creature killed by a ship but it does give scientists a unique opportunity to study it. This individual is thought to weigh more than 50 tons!

Tongue eating parasite

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 11:04 UK time, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Look away now if you're squeamish - this is the stuff of nightmares and wouldn't look out of place in a Ridley Scott 'Alien' movie.

Image via

"The sea-dwelling parasite attacks fish, burrows into it, and then devours its tongue. After eating the tongue, the parasite proceeds to live inside the fish's mouth".
Visit for more on this story.

Fishermen found the parasite living inside the mouth of a weaver fish in Jersey. Weavers are common throughout the UK and can be found close to the shore in Wales during the summer months.

If you've ever stepped on one, then you'll know how much pain they can cause!

More on this story from BBC News


Badger cull update

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 10:10 UK time, Monday, 19 October 2009

Recent news from the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales:

"Elin Jones Rural Affairs Minister has announced that the Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 under the Animal Health Act 1981 would come into force on 21st October, and that the only procedure that would stop it was a 40-day period in which Assembly Members could propose a motion that the Order be annulled".

"On 14th October, two Assembly members Peter Black (Lib Dem) and Lorraine Barratt (Labour) proposed a motion to annul the Order which will be debated shortly".

For those interested, the Badger Trust have produced a document setting out their argument against the culling of badgers and argues that it is actually modern methods of farming - large herd sizes and stock movements that have led to a rise in bovine TB cases here in Wales.

Similar experimental culls in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have had mixed results. Apparently Northern Ireland had a similar rate of bovine TB to Wales just four years ago but have virtually halved it without killing a single badger.

Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland, where they've been culling thousands of badgers - bovine TB is still a real problem.

The Farmers Union Of Wales point out that there is actually very little difference between NI and Wales' bovine TB policies regarding cattle.

They point to the Royal Society 2008 findings which analysed cattle movement data in order to study the spread of TB in Great Britain.

The studies indicated that cattle movements are likely to be responsible for just 16% of herd outbreaks and concluded that "High-risk spread is probably the result of cattle/badger/BTB interaction". Read the FUW Bovine and TB factsheet.

The Welsh Assembly considered 3 options - a non selective badger cull, vaccination of badgers or a combined strategy but opted for the cull as it was considered the best way to reduce bovine TB.

Dealing with badgers is one element of the Welsh Assembly Government's programme to eradicate bovine TB.

They have also intensified their cattle testing regime, are consulting on legislation on tightening up pre-movement testing and implementing additional cattle measures in the area where the cull would take place (if it happens).  

This option is currently under consideration from the Rural Affairs Minister and a decision will be made shortly. Read about what the Welsh Assembly Government is doing to tackle TB in cattle.


So are badgers responsible for bovine TB?
Scientists do now agree that badgers carry the disease but how much of it is transferred from badger to cattle and cattle to cattle and how best to combat the spread is still to be agreed upon.

Visit the links below and make up your own minds.

I'd love to hear your comments - for or against, on this contentious issue.

Powers sought for badger cull - BBC News Online

Welsh Assembly Government - Bovine TB

FUW - Badgers and Bovine TB

Badgers Trust Cymru

Shades of grey

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 15:20 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

The topic of grey squirrel culling seems to be something of a hot potato lately...

Love them or hate them, this problem isn't going to go away any time soon.

Greys are currently wiping out our native species of red squirrels but at what point do we intervene or do we just let nature take it's course?

A red squirrel, blissfully unaware of its impending doom.


Red Squirrel image courtesy of Alan Burfitt.

Not only are greys eating the precious food sources of reds and taking over their habitats, they are also destroying native wildlife - eating birds eggs, robbing feeders and generally breeding like rabbits.

If all this wasn't enough - they also carry a virus fatal to reds which gives them a rather slow, horrible death. It would appear as if the odds were firmly stacked in favour of the greys.

Natural selection perhaps? Has the species merely evolved? Should we intervene?

Celebrity chefs have done their bit over the years and every now and again we're encouraged to try cooking squirrel meat (greys not reds in case you're thinking about it!) and informed that its a very low fat, tasty what I'm not sure? 

But I bet it tastes like frogs legs...

A grey squirrel planning world domination:


Radio Wales have an item on red squirrels on Monday, 19 October from 9am -12pm on the Jamie & Louise show.

So should we be actively culling greys or do we opt for establishing 'safe havens' and buffer zones such as Anglesey for red squirrels where trapping has already had a profound effect on the greys population?

It's thought that greys will have disappeared from Anglesey within two years...

I have to say, when you see a young grey squirrel running across your lawn playing with a prickly horse chestnut in its paws, it's hard to imagine having to 'despatch it' in the name of conservation but if we don't, what's the alternative?

I was lucky enough to visit the Galapagos Islands a couple of years ago but there the problem wasn't squirrels - it was goats and rats.

Bird and tortoise populations were being decimated on some of the more remote islands so something had to be done quickly to save species from certain extinction.

This was a man made problem and for once it was up to man to clear up his own mess. 

The answer was a brutal one - total extermination using traps and guns and by any other means necessary. I've a feeling they used traps on the rats rather than the rifles though...

Helicopters flew over the islands, carrying snipers armed with high powered rifles. The goats didn't stand a chance but the tortoise's food supplies (basically anything green) were made safe - species saved.

So what do you think we should do - Are you in favour of a cull?


Treat yourself to some squirrel videos

Read about the squirrel pox on

Sunshine and frosts

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 12:19 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

Good news! We're in for a nice sunny spell this weekend.

A cold Arctic front is pushing in, bringing dry and settled weather this weekend so expect plenty of sunshine and overnight frosts.

It should be great walking weather so get out there and enjoy the autumn colours.

Berries at Llyn Alwen by Susie Corwen on our Flickr group:

You often hear people talking about the number of berries on trees indicating that a long, cold winter is on its way but I disagree. Here's my take on it:

We've had a mild spring this year followed by a warm and wet summer, hence all those spiders and butterflies everywhere!

But this also means that it's been good growing weather for trees and shrubs which as a result have produced plenty of berries and fruit, so it has nothing to do with us having a long, cold winter ahead!

I thought that might cheer you up ;0

Have a great weekend


Moel Famau and the tumbling tower

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 11:35 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

The next stop on our Weatherman Walking trip was Mold where we've been filming for the last two days.

I've been doing a 4-5 mile circular walk, beginning and ending at the car park up around Moel Famau - a well known hill in the area and the Jubilee Tower.

The area is also home to a wide and varied range of wildlife species that live up here in the heather/ moorland habitat.

Views from the top:

These include red and black grouse whose numbers are steadily rising as well as peregrine, merlin, hen harrier, meadow pipits, wheatear, skylarks and many mammals.

Moel Famau is very popular with walkers and visitors and had over 200,000 people visiting last year.

At least one of them was BBC Wales' North East blogger - Nick Bourne who walked the 20 mile route from Moel Famau to Prestatyn earlier this year!

The Jubilee Tower was built to commemorate the coronation of King George III and sits at the highest point of the walk at 554 metres.

Interestingly, it was never completed due to a storm which blew it down in 1862 so what you can see are just the remains.

The tower shrouded in fog on Thursday:

From the top and on a sunny day like today (Friday), you can see as far as Liverpool, Manchester and parts of Snowdonia but we've also had thick, dense fog so we're going to have to re-shoot some parts of the walk.

What a difference a day makes:

On the way back down we wandered through some carefully managed woodland where a planting programme is under way and apparently you can find nightjar here if you know where to look at dusk.

Aside from the views there are some amazing bronze age burial mounds here, thousands of years old so well worth a look.

Although only a short walk compared to some we've done for Weatherman Walking, but well worth the effort!


View a panoromic photo from the top of Moel Famau

Find our more in the blog at

Dolphin football

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 09:56 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

If you haven't already seen it, take a look at the dolphin video on the BBC Wales nature portal currently.

It's an amazing clip showing bottle nose dolphins playing around with jellyfish, smashing them up into the air with their tails. It can't have been much fun for the jellyfish though!

The footage was filmed off Tremadaog Bay, North West Wales.

I had a text from family yesterday (15 October, 2009) staying at Whitesands beach down in Pembrokeshire saying they had just seen two porpoises, a seal pup and what they thought were killer whales (orcas) off the coast so I'd love to hear from you if you can verify this sighting!

We did have sightings of orcas back in June off Ramsey Island so anything is possible.


Killer whales on Wikipedia

Seawatch Foundation

Noble on nature: wild orchids

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 16:27 UK time, Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Just a quicky to let you know that radio presenter - Roy Noble  will be chatting to orchid experts - Pat O'Reilly and Sue Parker on Thursday, 15 October between 2.30 - 3.15pm on Radio Wales.

Here's a common spotted orchid, I photographed on Anglesey earlier this year:


The husband and wife team have visited many countries around the world in search of their favourite flower - the wild orchid, including Bulgaria, France, Portugal and Scandinavia.

They'll be telling Roy all about their travels and talks on orchid tourism taking place at the National Botanic Garden Of Wales.


Video clip of orchids at Kenfig Nature reserve

Photos of British Orchids

Barmouth and the Panorama route

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 11:37 UK time, Wednesday, 14 October 2009

I've been busy walking again this week for my new Weatherman Walking series - this time around the delightful seaside town of Barmouth.

I've never stopped here before and have always by-passed it on my way to other walking destinations but it's well worth a visit and has some great walking routes, especially in autumn when it's a little quieter.

Amazing sunset over Barmouth:

The crew and I started off in Barmouth by visiting an old round house. I'd not encountered one of these before but apparently they were used as the town's temporary jail for trouble makers and drunks to be kept in. Women were held on one side and men on the other but I'm not sure how much room they had, looking at it from the outside!

A roundhouse:

Moving on from here, we trekked up a narrow trail to visit John Ruskin's old cottages. John Ruskin was an English art critic and social thinker who founded a small community here.

Next stop was Dinas Oleu - a distinctive gorse covered headland whose name means 'fortress of light' in Welsh. This area of land was the first piece of land ever given to the National Trust by a Mrs Fanny Talbot in 1895!

We then joined up with the 'Panorama Walk' with it's fantastic views, especially on such a warm, clear day.

We could see right across the Mawddach Estuary to Cadair Idris in the distance at the Southern end of the Snowdonia National Park.

From here we walked along an old drovers track to Cerrig Arthur where there's an ancient stone circle dating back to Megalithic times.

Apparently there were once plans to build here a church here but the stones kept falling over and workmen heard strange voices so the project was abandoned and the church erected elsewhere...

We then walked alongside the old Bontddu goldmines where gold for royal wedding rings was once mined but sadly I didn't have time to stop and dig!

Penmaenpool toll bridge:

From here we began our descent down to Penmaenpool and over an old toll bridge to the train station which closed in the 1965.

The track is now a cycle route so I hopped on my mountain bike and made my way back to Barmouth.

If you've walked this route then I'd love to hear from you. Leave me a comment and I'll get back to you.

Next stop - Mold!


The Panorama Walk

First aid training for walkers

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 12:36 UK time, Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I recently attended a one day first aid course at the BBC - My first in about 15 years and things have definitely changed.

I personally found it really useful and am now a lot more confident about handling a situation such as resuscitation, god forbid it ever occurs.

As a surfer, this technique is particularly useful for me to know, especially with more and more people taking to the seas on a variety of wave craft - many of whom are completely inexperienced.

So I highly recommend attending a course if you ever have the opportunity...which leads me nicely onto this:

I just noticed that there are training days being offered to walkers by Monmouthshire Countryside Services in November 2009.

Two training days were held in June for people interested in leading or helping with activities and guided walks and the team are keen to expand on this and play a greater role in next year's Monmouthshire Walking Festival.

There is only so much you can cover in a day but the basics are all there as well as various scenarios such as broken ankles etc which are all played out in the field, which is always useful and brings a sense of realism to it all.

The training days will be repeated in November, so if you are interested in leading walks or activities get in touch with Morag Sinton or phone 01633 644663 for more details.


Litter fish

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 11:14 UK time, Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Back in September I blogged about a voluntary beach clean, happening at Ogmore.

I've recently been sent an update from the organisers so you can see for yourselves how they got on.

Ogmore Beachwatch volunteers 2009. Photo by Andrew Dunn/Marine Conservation Society:

Huw Irranca-Davies & MCS Staff Beachwatch 2009. Photo by Andrew Dunn/Marine Conservation Society:

Local artist Emma Lamport helped the kids make a litter fish with some of the more colourful litter items on the beach.

Litterfish Ogmore Beachwatch 2009. Photo by Emma Lamport:

The event was attended by 60 volunteers including several staff from the Marine Conservation Society and MP for Ogmore; Huw Irranca-Davies.

Well done everyone!


Northern bottle nose whale

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 15:04 UK time, Monday, 12 October 2009

Yet another whale has been washed up dead on a Welsh beach this year.

On the plus side we've also had sightings of killer and fin whales off the Pembrokeshire coast as well various pods and super pods of both common and risso's dolphins.

At the start of September a dead minke whale washed up at the Knap in Barry.

This time however it's a northern bottle nose whale at Talacre in Flintshire, a beach better known for it's population of rare natterjack toads than whales.

Another northern bottle nose whale was washed up in Bournemouth a few weeks ago...

More on this story from BBC Local


Northern bottlenose whale images on

Fancy a solar dip?

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 14:03 UK time, Monday, 12 October 2009

The Stackpole Estate in Pembrokeshire have just installed a new swimming pool that is powered by renewable energy in the shape of 19 solar panels - the largest collection across the National Trust.

These Welsh produced solar panels now provide free heat to a pool that used to cost thousands of pounds a year to heat.

The result is not only lower running costs for the Trust but another important small step towards lowering the environmental impact and reducing the climate changing carbon emissions

The project, which cost £18,000, will enable the pool's water to be heated by the power of the sun; supplemented for now with a gas system with plans to move to a biomass heating system in the near future.

The system works by water continually being pumped from the pool into a storage tank where it is heated up by energy created from the solar panels

The solar panels have a digital display to enable members of the public and resident guests using the pool at Stackpole Centre, to see exactly how much energy is being produced by the solar panels during their visit.

The pool is open to the public from 9.30am to 3.30pm daily, except Monday and Friday, and costs: Adult £.50; Child (under 16) £2.

Children under 5 years of age have free entry. Please contact reception on 01646 661425 before visiting as the pool can be busy at times.


Weekend weather

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 13:42 UK time, Friday, 9 October 2009

Well looking forward to the weekend, the weather is not looking too bad overall. Some rain on Saturday night but most of the time, dry.

After yesterday's sunshine, the weather is on the change today with rain gradually spreading across Wales this afternoon.

The south-easterly wind strong and gusty on exposed southern and western coasts with top temperatures 12 to 15 Celsius.

This evening a damp start but the rain will move away. So turning much drier overnight. The wind easing with lowest temperatures 8 to 10 Celsius.

Saturday: A grey start in places with some low cloud and hill fog patches. The odd light shower is possible here and there otherwise dry and the cloud will break with some sunshine at times.

Top temperatures 14 to 16 Celsius with a westerly breeze.

Saturday night: A spell of rain is likely so a damp start first thing on Sunday but it will soon dry and brighten-up with some sunshine.

Top temperatures 13 to 15 Celsius with a north-westerly breeze.

So all in all not a bad weekend on the whole, but if you're out clubbing on Saturday night, watch out for the rain!

Next week high pressure will take control and that will bring several days of mainly dry and settled weather.

Something for the weekend?

The BBC Headroom 'What Makes You Smile?' event hits Castle Square, Swansea on Saturday between 11am and 4.30pm, with a host of activities and games to make the city grin. Hosted by BBC Radio Wales' Mal Pope, the event includes:

"Laughologists" on stage to tickle the city's funnybones; a competitive interactive 'big smile' game in which the people of Swansea can burst dark clouds and turn them into smiles while pitting their wits against the other cities.


headroom find out more.

If you fancy joining in the fun tomorrow, most of the day should be dry in Swansea with a little sunshine. Temperatures reaching 16 Celsius with a westerly breeze.


Welsh Pro Tour surfing event

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 11:35 UK time, Friday, 9 October 2009

The UK Pro Surfing Tour is coming to Rest Bay, Porthcawl this weekend.

It's the ninth year the competition has come to Wales now and it seems to get bigger and better each time with some of the top surfers from the UK and abroad attending.

This year we've got the 2008 champion, WQS / WCT Surfer Russell Winter (Newquay), 2008 Tour Champion Ruebin Pearce (South Africa) and the surfer who is pushing the boundaries of contemporary surfing in the UK - Reubyn Ash (Bude) plus many more.

Reubyn Ash in action. Photo by
Vici Walker:

They will be joined by the best Welsh surfers around including: Nathan Phillips (Llantwit Major), Nick Reid (Swansea) and top local surfer, Greg Owen (former Welsh Champion).

There will also be an under 16's competition in order to encourage the development of the sport here in Wales. Max Tucker is definitely one to watch, whose local knowledge could give him the edge.

It should be a great event and the wave forecast is looking good with light WNW winds for Saturday and decent swell, so get down there and watch the action unfold. Heats will be underway from around 8.30am.


Bandit country

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 13:55 UK time, Thursday, 8 October 2009

As you may know, I've been out and about recently filming for a new series of Weatherman Walking.

Last week I was in the wild west, travelling through bandit country in Ceredigion.

I was following in the footsteps of the Welsh Robin Hood, Twm Sion Cati who was born in 1609 and it's his 400th anniversary this year.

The walk is 22 miles long and has been designed by Dafydd Morgan, a former teacher who actively promotes walking in the area and sometimes dresses up as the infamous masked highwayman!

Bandit country:

We did part of the walk and started at Soar y Mynydd Chapel, Wales' remotest chapel.

From there we hiked about 8 miles, passing through the beautiful Doethie Valley.

The walk then joins an old drovers road passing Ty'n Cornel Youth Hostel, through wild forests and up to to Garn Fawr which was shrouded in fog.

Beautiful fungi on the walk:
Finally we ended up in Tregaron and finished the walk at Capel Bwlchgwynt.

This part of Wales doesn't get the walking attention it deserves but this walk is a hidden gem which is definitely worth checking out.

You'll be able to watch it on TV sometime next year, hopefully in February or March 2010.


Weatherman Walking 2009 on Radio Wales

Weatherman Walking 2008 on BBC Wales

Noble nature

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 11:07 UK time, Thursday, 8 October 2009

Tune in to Radio Wales on Friday, 9 Oct from 2pm onwards to catch up with Radio Wales presenter Roy Noble as he chats about a fungi walk in the National Botanical Gardens, the world conker championships (we have a Welsh entrant this year!) and a new book about the birds of Glamorgan.

Too busy to listen to the whole programme? Here's a handy break down:

2.15pm: Tim Bevan, the estate manager of the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire chats about the Waun Las National Nature Reverse which surrounds the Garden's formal areas and is made up of 400 acres of field, marsh and woodland.

The area is being farmed organically and includes several species of fungi as well a series of walks designed to showcase them.

2.30 - 2.30pm: The World Conker Championships take place on Sunday near the ancient market town of Oundle, Northamptonshire.

The organiser, John Hadman will be chatting to Roy as well as the only Welsh competitor - Andrew Mayes from Ammanford.

Andrew is entering for the 6th time and is hoping for success, as in it's 45 year history there has never been a Welsh winner!

3.00 - 3.30pm: Roy will be talking to Richard Smith about the best places to find both common and exotic birds in Glamorgan so have your binoculars at the ready.

I'll be featuring Roy's programme whenever he covers nature and outdoor topics from now on, so keep an eye out for more features coming soon.


Listen Live on the Radio Wales website

National Botanical Gardens

An eye on this week's weather

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 15:40 UK time, Wednesday, 7 October 2009

After a disappointing July and August, September turned out to be a much more cheerful month. After a wet and unsettled start areas of high pressure brought us plenty of fine weather and some wonderful sunsets!

Read the rest of this entry

Risso's dolphins off Pembrokeshire

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 10:48 UK time, Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Cliff Benson from the Sea Trust - the marine arm of the Wildlife Trust South and West Wales has been in touch with some exciting news - they've recently filmed a pod of Risso's dolphins off the Pembrokeshire coast including mothers and calves.

Image courtesy of Rich Crossen, the Sea Trust:

The Sea Trust are a local volunteer group whose maxim is "Local people looking after their own marine wildlife and environment".

As part of their activities, the trust survey cetaceans around the Pembrokeshire coast as well as conducting surveys from aboard the 'Stena Europe' car ferry that sails between Fishguard and Rosslare. 

Cliff reports: "We've been seeing an amazing amount of Risso's from the ferry along with some from the shore at Strumble Head.

Last week we came across a maternal group of Risso's Dolphins with very young calves which we managed to photograph and film as they passed us by".

Image courtesy of Rich Crossen, the Sea Trust:

For more information about cetacean and marine 'mega fauna' such as seals and sunfish visit the whales in wales blog

Keep an eye out for the Sea Trust on this year's Autumnwatch series.


Pull the udder one

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 09:51 UK time, Monday, 5 October 2009

Steve Airey from Whitchurch sent in this cracking photo from Hill End, Gower. You can see Worms Head in the background.
Daisy on Holiday:

Now, it's not everyday you encounter a cow taking a stroll along a beach, is it?

If you're reading this and thinking to yourself, "I've got a funnier photo than that one" then why not send it in to us?
Steve was also pleased to report that my weather predictions were 'spot on' so nice to know I do get it right from time to time! ;)

Thanks for the great photo Steve and I think this one is worthy of a caption competition (for fun - no prizes).

Leave your captions in the comments area below.



Autumnwatch in your backyard

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 15:32 UK time, Friday, 2 October 2009

This autumn, pull on your chunky knits and head out to enjoy an adventure with nature in your backyard.

To help inspire you, Autumnwatch's Martin Hughes-Games has made a series of films that show how we can all get more involved with local wildlife.

"You may have put up a bird box or dug a pond, but I've been finding out how we can go much further in helping and learning about wildlife," said Martin.

From bat detecting to discovering the ancient knowledge of medicinal plants, there are hundreds of conservation and wildlife volunteering projects that can spark our interest and lead to an autumn adventure with nature.

Not only do we get closer to nature, but it just may help make a difference to science or conservation efforts to help our native wildlife.

Batman - As part of the Autumnwatch 'How Do I' series, Martin gave up his usual Friday night curry to spend the evening in a bat-mobile with the Bat Conservation Trust.

Wildflower walks - BBC2's Grow Your Own Drugs series inspired many of us to think more about the medicinal properties of the flora in our gardens and countryside.

What you might not have considered is that by learning more about the medicinal properties of plants, not only can you help yourself but you will also enjoy more time with nature.

Become a nature volunteer - Some of the best ways to learn more about nature and how you can help it is by assisting one of the many wildlife or conservation projects that are taking place in the UK.

One of the largest projects is the bird ringing scheme run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Autumnwatch 2009 runs from 2 October to 20 November, Fridays at 9pm on BBC Two.

I'd love to hear about your sightings right here in Wales whether it be a bat or a badger, a deer or a dodo, well maybe not a dodo... but you get the general idea!

Add your Autumn sightings to the comments area below and send in your best videos - yes 'videos' and photos to our Flickr group and I will feature the best ones in this blog.


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