Archives for July 2012

A taste of summer

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 13:59 UK time, Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Last week most of Wales enjoyed a taste of summer.

At the Royal Welsh Show attendance records were broken and on Thursday in Cardiff the temperature soared to 28 Celsius making it the hottest day of the year so far in the capital.

Since then it has turned cooler and fresher with lower humidity. Daytime temperatures this week between16 to 21 Celsius, 61 to 70 Fahrenheit, which is around average or a little below.

Low pressure near Ireland will also bring us some rain and fresh to strong winds but good news for our wave starved surfers this summer.

Thursday and Friday will be brighter with a mixture of sunshine and scattered showers.

The air will be unstable so the showers could be heavy in places with hail and thunder.

The weekend will continue rather cool and changeable with showers and sunny spells.

So not the best of summer weather this week but at least the pollen count will be low!


Dr Rhys Jones at Royal Welsh Show 2012 - Day four

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 10:43 UK time, Friday, 27 July 2012

Dr Rhys Jones, co-presenter of Royal Welsh Show highlights on BBC Two Wales, blogs specially for BBC Wales Nature this week.

Royal Welsh presenters, Rachael, Rhys and Sara.

Royal Welsh Show presenters, Rachael, Rhys and Sara.

Well that's it for another year, I've just finished recording the end link with Sara and Rachel, and am now ready to step down from my presenter duties for the Royal Welsh show 2012.

We've had a marvellous time but happy to be on our way for dinner as once again we didn't have time for lunch.

Looking back over the week it's hard to pinpoint single highlights as the whole show has been the most amazing experience.

For me the kindness of the Davies family allowing me to help prepare their champion dairy cows during an incredibly stressful time must top my highlight of my show.

We have all had an amazing time and I hope you have enjoyed watching.


A change on the way this weekend

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 16:02 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2012

It's a game of two halves weather-wise in Wales today: the south, the east and the Royal Welsh Show have been hot and sunny but it's a different story in the north and west where it's cloudy and cooler.

In Aberporth, there is some fog on the coast with a temperature of 16 Celsius, while in Monmouth the temperature should reach a humid 27C 81F.

The first of the Olympic football matches have been played in very warm conditions in Cardiff, but there is a change on the way.

Over the next few days, it's going to turn cooler and fresher everywhere with a mixture of sunshine, cloud and showers.

On Sunday, the showers could be heavy in places with thunder. Daytime temperatures will range between 15 to 19 Celsius and with lower humidity it will be more comfortable at night for sleeping.

Next week looks more unsettled with some rain on the way with temperatures around the seasonal norm or a little below.

So, after the hottest spell of the summer so far in mid, south and east Wales, temperatures are set to drop.

However, the north and west, which have missed out on the hot weather, will enjoy a few sunny spells.


No sign of a swift recovery

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 12:07 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2012

The bad weather this summer has had a negative affect on the UK swift population, mentioned in a recent article on BBC News.

This follows on from a recent RSPB report which mentions that the population of swifts visiting the UK each summer to breed is nearly a third lower than it was in the mid-1990s.

swift on the wing by BC-956

Swifts are now on the amber list and birds of Conservation Concern as their numbers have declined dramatically in the past 10 years

This year's spate of bad weather has resulted in fewer flying insects for swifts to eat.

I've seen a fair few out and about this summer while working on BBC Wales Weatherman Walking, both at Burry Port and Cardiff Bay Nature Reserve but not in any great numbers.

A lack of nest sites is also causing problems as older buildingsd are being renovated and newer buildings don't provide a suitable space for swifts to nest in.

You can help the RSPB by completing a short survey about swifts in your area.

Dr Rhys Jones at Royal Welsh Show 2012 - Day three

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:44 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2012

Dr Rhys Jones, co-presenter of Royal Welsh Show highlights on BBC Two Wales, blogs specially for BBC Wales Nature this week.

It's simply been the hottest Royal Welsh Show I can ever remember! Standing up to two hours at a time in a show ring can really take its toll on your energy.

Main show ring at the Royal Welsh Show

Main show ring at the Royal Welsh Show

It's an early start for all of us, most of us starting out at 6am or even before and some days we recorded late into the night.

It's all been worth it, though, with some really lovely stories and fantastic contributors making the Royal Welsh Show what it is.

Rhys talks to a handler

Rhys talks to a handler

I got the chance to work alongside the young handlers today: utterly amazing. They didn't complain once as the heat of the midday sun beat down relentlessly on the field of competitors.

I showed a Balwen lamb in the sheep ring last year and it's not as easy as it looks, yet these young handlers worked their sheep like pros. Hats off boys and girls, I was mightily impressed. Another fantastic day spent with talented people and stunning animals!

Why would you want to be anywhere else?

Dr Rhys Jones at Royal Welsh Show 2012

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:26 UK time, Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Dr Rhys Jones, co-presenter of Royal Welsh Show highlights on BBC Two Wales, blogs specially for BBC Wales Nature this week.

I am having an amazing time at the Royal Welsh Show show this year. I have to give a massive shout out to the Davies family from Whitland for allowing me to help prepare their champion dairy cows for competition; what an honour!

Rhys and the crew

Rhys and the crew

I've also been having a great time with the James family from just outside Builth Wells as they also saw red cards aplenty with their Blue faced Leicester ewes:

Members of the James family with their champion sheep

Members of the James family with their champion sheep

I was really moved watching the Spitfire take to the air over the show ground. There is just something about the sound of the aircraft as it ripped overhead that seemed to leave the crowd spellbound and feel really privileged to have witnessed the display.

Just how much longer will we be able to witness a sight like that in our skies? Today is going to be another big day at the show but I cannot wait!

The latest from Llanelwedd

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 16:20 UK time, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

It's a glorious day at the Royal Welsh Show with hardly a cloud in the sky and unbroken sunshine.

Temperatures this afternoon soared to 26 Celsius, 79 Fahrenheit in the shade, making it the hottest day at the show since July 2008 - and the hottest day of the summer so far!

The sun is very strong so people are advised to wear a hat, use a high factor sun cream and drink plenty of water.

Tomorrow and Thursday will be cloudier than today in Llanelwedd but it will remain dry, bright and warm with temperatures rising into the low 20s (Celsius). It will also feel humid with not much wind to speak of.

If you're in Cardiff tomorrow to watch the Olympic women's football at the Millennium Stadium it will be hot and should be sunny with a top temperature of 26 Celsius, 79 Fahrenheit.

On Friday, cooler weather will spread from the north-west with showers in places. The weekend will be cooler and fresher everywhere with a mixture of bright or sunny spells, showers and some dry weather too.

In London temperatures may soar to 31 Celsius, 88 Fahrenheit tomorrow - making it the hottest day of the year so far. The last time the Olympics were held in London in 1948 the games started with a heat wave but then it cooled down with a few heavy downpours.

This time round, it will be warm and humid for the opening ceremony on Friday evening but with a risk of heavy and possibly thundery showers.

After that it looks like turning cooler and fresher with sunny spells and showers.

So the weather may not be on top form for the first week of the Olympics, however the very wet conditions we had earlier in the summer are not expected to return. Overall, the weather will be typically British: changeable and mixed - much like it was in 1948!

Royal Welsh Show: Weather for the week ahead

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Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 13:05 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

I'm at the Royal Welsh Show for the next couple of days and after all the wet weather and floods, summer has finally arrived. The sun is shining today and there is more sunshine to come. Tomorrow is likely to be the sunniest and warmest day of the week in Llanelwedd with temperatures in the shade rising to 23 Celsius, 73 Fahrenheit.

In Wales, this July is already wetter than average but thankfully the jet stream has now moved further north allowing much drier and warmer conditions to take hold. I wouldn't be surprised if some farmers miss the show this year taking advantage of the dry spell, making silage and cutting hay. Mind you, it won't be dry and sunny everywhere this week. The north and west will be cloudier and cooler with some rain and drizzle at times.

Next weekend will turn cooler and fresher everywhere with sunshine and showers. The following week into August looks changeable with occasional rain and showers but with a few dry and sunny spells as well.

According to meteorologist Philip Eden, the first half of this summer has been the worst ever but at long last things are looking up for most of us over the next few days. The south and east of Britain will enjoy the best of the sunshine and the highest temperatures - up to 30 Celsius, 86 Fahrenheit in London! It won't be as hot as that in Powys but it will be warm and dry which is great news for everyone coming to the Royal Welsh Show.


Weekend weather: A mixed bag

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 15:33 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

Parts of south Wales, Powys and Monmouthshire are enjoying some sunshine today but others are wet. In fact the Met Office has issued an amber warning for Powys valid until the end of today.

Torrential and thundery downpours are likely in places with a risk of flash flooding

Ladies night at Chepstow Racecourse has been cancelled because of the recent heavy rain. In the last six weeks, they say they have had 12 inches (1 foot) of rain with more rain in June than in February, March and April combined.

Tonight rain and heavy showers will spread south with the north turning drier after midnight.

Tomorrow will bring cloud and scattered showers with the showers heavy in places with a risk of thunder but some places will stay dry with bright or sunny intervals.

Highs 15 to 18 Celsius with a light to moderate west to north-westerly breeze.

Tomorrow night will be generally dry and cool with temperatures inland falling as low as 8 Celsius.

Sunday will be a better day overall with fewer showers with more places dry. It will be sunnier too although it may turn cloudy and damp later in the evening. Top temperatures 15 to 18 Celsius with a cool west to south-westerly breeze.

Sunday, 15 July is St. Swithin's Day but don't worry Sunday will be more dry than wet so hopefully it won't rain for the next 40 days...

There is more rain and drizzle on the way next week but later in the month there is a hint of better weather for the fourth week of July.

This is not definite yet but if it comes off it would be great news for the Royal Welsh Show and the start of the Olympics so keep everything crossed!

Ancient woodlands surveyed

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 12:40 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

A nationwide survey of Wales' ancient woodlands has identified thousands of hectares of these living monuments that previously lay undiscovered.

Wales now has 95,000 hectares of ancient woodland - an increase of more than 50% since the last survey, eight years ago.

The huge leap from the previous estimate of 62,000ha is due to the use of more accurate, digital maps and more precise methods which enabled new areas to be identified.

The revised inventory was commissioned by Forestry Commission Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales with support from Coed Cadw/Woodland Trust, which owns Cwm George and Casehill woodland.

Ancient woodland - CCW

Ancient woodland - CCW

Environment Minister John Griffiths launched the revised Ancient Woodland Inventory yesterday and visited one of the new areas of ancient woodland that has been recognised at Cwm George and Casehill woodland, near Dinas Powys in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Mr Griffiths said "Ancient woodlands are not just museum pieces which need to be preserved, but can also be a valuable asset, providing wider benefits"

Ancient woodlands are our richest and most important sites for a vast range of insects, birds, animals, flowers and trees and are home to more threatened species than any other UK habitat.

They also have historical and archaeological significance and can be a source of inspiration for local culture and folklore.

Weather this week 11 July 2012

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 14:58 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

It was nice to pull the curtains back this morning and see some blue sky which of course we haven't had much of so far this summer.

Mind you, it's not a completely dry story. The air is unstable with a few towering cumulus clouds and a scattering of heavy showers.

Looking towards ‪Pwllheli‬. Photo: Ben Wells

Looking towards ‪Pwllheli‬. Photo: Ben Wells

This evening any showers will die away to leave a dry, clear night and light winds. It will turn cool for the time of year with temperatures inland falling as low as 7 Celsius.

Tomorrow will start dry and bright with sunny spells but cloud and rain will spread from the south-west during the day. At the moment, it looks like most of rain will be in the south tomorrow afternoon. The north could well stay dry.

Friday will be unsettled with plenty of cloud, showers or longer spells of rain. Some heavy rain is possible too in parts of the north and north-east and I wouldn't rule out localised flooding given the ground is almost saturated.

Saturday will bring a few bright intervals but also showers, some of them heavy and thundery. Sunday should be a bit better; still a few showers but drier than Saturday and we should see at least some sunshine. Temperatures will be on the cool side at 14 to 17 Celsius, with a west to north-westerly breeze.

Looking ahead, there is still no sign of any prolonged dry weather on the horizon. The changeable/unsettled pattern looks set to continue for the rest of the July and into early August. The best I can offer is the odd fine day in between further spells of rain and showers.

Is our wet summer natural or is something else causing it? Could climate change be responsible?

Melting Arctic ice could be affecting the north Atlantic polar jet stream increasing the risk of blocking, leading to more extreme swings in the weather. Some prefer to blame a weaker sun for the changes in the jet stream like we are seeing now.

Whether you believe humans are changing the climate or not, it will be interesting to see what the winters and summers will be like in the years ahead and if the weather patterns we are experiencing now are a worrying trend or just a blip!

A wet July ahead?

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway | 16:02 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

I was away last week filming another two walks for a new series of Weatherman Walking - one on the north coast of Anglesey at Cemaes Bay, the other in Llanberis, Snowdonia.

The weather was very mixed; we did enjoy some dry weather and sunshine but we had to abandon filming last Friday because of heavy rain, mist and poor visibility.

That's Welsh weather for you but it has been a very disappointing summer so far and July seems to be going the same way as June, in other words - wet.

A few places such as Rhyl, Mumbles Head, Hawarden, Aberdaron and St. Athan have already had more than a month's worth of rain. In Rhyl, (where the average amount of rainfall is 51.8mm) they've already had 68mm so far this month.

Meanwhile in Llandrindod in Powys, April, May and June were wetter than October, November and December 2011.

The jet stream is to blame for all the rain - it's still in the wrong position and should lie between Scotland and Iceland at this time of year but it is much further south than normal.

Across the pond, the USA is stuck in a ridge of high pressure with a record breaking heat-wave. There is another block of high pressure over Greenland and southeast Europe while the UK is under a trough of low pressure with no sign of it moving yet.

It would take some kind of jolt to get the jet stream to change its position and move further north. A hurricane in the Atlantic might do it but there's no sign of one in the near future.

This means the weather in our part of the world will continue rather cool and unsettled with more rain at times and heavy showers this week.

However, I can promise some dry weather and sunshine this week - one fine day and maybe even two in a row, if we're lucky.


Weatherman Walking in Cemaes Bay

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 11:04 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

I've just completed two more Weatherman Walks with Derek Brockway for the new series in 2013, this time visiting north wales - Cemaes Bay and Llanberris.

Five years ago, I'd never even visited Ynys Mon but I'm gradually getting to know the place having spent two weeks there with Springwatch followed up with a Weatherman walk at North Stack last year.

I seem to end up visiting the island outside of the school holidays which probably helps but it's always nice and relaxed with very few people around.

Our first walk began in Cemaes Bay on the north coast, just around the headland from Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, which seemed to shadow us for most of the walk, appearing and disappearing around every dip and bend until Porth Cynfor/ Hell's Mouth.

The walk was absolutely fascinating, steeped in history, myths and legends with coastal views to die for - even in the rain and drizzle!

Our guide was Dave Salter, a local walker and former power station worker who knew the area like the back of his hand and laughed and joked his way around this rugged circular walk.

Cemaes Bay is a pleasant little white-washed coastal village, once a thriving port but now a sleepy backwater with a relaxed pace and stunning bay, popular with tourists when the sun shines.

Producer Gareth Rees-Rowlands and Derek looking at the restored lifeboat in the harbour.

Producer Gareth Rees-Rowlands and Derek Brockway admiring the restored lifeboat in Cemaes harbour.

Highlights included seeing the fully restored Charles Henry Ashley lifeboat which operated between 1872 - 1932 in the harbour and Middle Mouse - the most northerly island in Wales, where Bishop Patrick (later Saint Patrick) was once shipwrecked.

Apparently he swam ashore and lived in a cave with a freshwater pool beneath the cliffs, building the beautiful Llanbadrig church up above, in around AD440 - making it one of the oldest Christian sites in Wales

The church is fascinating, steeped in history and features Islamic wall tiles inside - not something you'll find every day in a Christian church. It's also featured in the Hollywood moive, Half Light starring Demi Moore.

The beautiful Llanbadrig church with some unusual, Islamic tiling inside.

The beautiful Llanbadrig church with some unusual, Islamic tiling inside.

The local gentry, a Lord Henry Stanley who paid for much of the renovation following a fire, had converted to Islam and requested something inside the church that represented his faith, so you'll find pretty, ornate blue tiles adorning the walls around the altar.

Henry Stanley, also known as the 3rd Baron Stanley of Alderley went on to become the first Muslim member of the House of Lords.

The Dalai Lama was apparently quite taken with the place too and during a visit, described it as the 'most peaceful place on earth'. There's a wooden bench on the headland where he sat to admire the views.

During our visit, harbour porpoises swam lazily in the sea below, with a mother and calf feeding as the tide turned.

A view over the graveyard towards Middle Mouse island where Saint Patrick was once shipwrecked.

A view over the graveyard towards Middle Mouse island where Saint Patrick was once shipwrecked.

Heading along the coast we passed Middle Mouse and heard a cacophony of sea birds, busily nesting on the island, safe from predators.

This area is a great place to see terns too and you'll see plenty of Sandwich and Arctic terns diving for sand eels.

The walk had a few steep climbs which made the old legs burn a bit but for every hill there was a great view followed by a nice downhill section into a stunning cove.

There was an convent in the area during the 7th century but that has pretty much disappeared along with an Iron Age promontory fort, but a watch tower built in 1902 still stands.

Catching my breath after a steep climb up above Porth Llanliieiana towards the watch tower.

Catching my breath after a steep climb up from Porth Llanliieiana, heading towards the watch tower.

It was built by a Captain Picton to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 and a great place to watch ships from, as they battle the fierce tides which eventually surge around the island and up the Menai Straits.

Cemaes was once a thriving port, exporting limestone, marble, bricks, lime and corn and importing coal and flour.

The remnants of the brick works can still be seen though and there are some fine examples at Porth Wen which supplied silica bricks for the steel industry and glazed bricks for domestic use in Victorian times.

The sun finally shone as we ended the walk on a quiet back lane that took us back to the village.

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