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Exploring Our Woodlands

April 2011

Explore Nature at St Fagans!

Posted by Hywel Couch on 26 April 2011
Explore Nature at St Fagans launch!
Daniel cutting the ribbon at the bird hide
Watching the Lesser Horseshoe bats on the batcam
Watching a nuthatch from the bird hide
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After months of planning and preparation, the Explore Nature at St Fagans project was officially launched earlier this month. On April the 2nd, we had a day filled with nature and wildlife activities. The weather was fantastic and hundreds of visitors to the museum participated in bird spotting, bat watching, pond dipping and arts and crafts activities. I hope everyone enjoyed the day as much as we did! I’d like to thank everyone who came along, especially Daniel who can be seen cutting the ribbon at the bird hide in the photo.


As we are well into spring now, St Fagans is alive with wildlife once again! The lesser horseshoe bats have returned to the Tannery, yesterday I counted around 25 of them! Later this summer the females will give birth to their pups, as this is their maternity roost. Why not come along to the Tannery and watch them on our special infra-red batcam?


The pits at the Tannery are once again teeming with life. There are countless newts, water boatmen, pond skaters, dragonfly nymphs and much much more. The Tannery is perhaps the best building on site for wildlife. Last week saw the return of the swallows who nest here every summer. It really is fantastic to see so much wildlife so close.


As part of the Explore Nature project we will be holding events and activities throughout the spring and summer months, from early morning bird walks to evening bat walks. Keep an eye on the museum website for more information.


As the Tannery is so good for wildlife, I will be spending the day there on Saturday the 30th of April. Come along and learn more about the bats, the newts and all the other wildlife that have made this building their home!

March 2011

Explore Nature at St Fagans Project Launch

Posted by Hywel Couch on 23 March 2011

On Saturday, April 2, we will be officially launching the Explore Nature at St Fagans project, here at the museum. The launch will be at 11am in Oriel 1. Then, throughout the day, there will be a variety of different nature based activities. 

We will have visits to our new bird hide, where a member of staff will be on hand to help with identifying the birds that can be seen visiting the bird feeders. Find out also how to attract different birds to your own garden so that you can watch them from the comfort of your own home! 

We will also have a number of activities at the Tannery. The Tannery has become home to a great variety of wildlife, from protected Great Crested Newts to rare Lesser Horseshoe bats. Come and find out more about these fascinating creatures. We will also be doing a spot of pond dipping and minibeast hunting, come along and see what we find! 

As part of the Explore Nature project we have commissioned a couple of films. The first is a general nature film shot at the museum, it shows the wealth of wildlife that we are lucky to have here. The second film concentrates on the Lesser Horseshoe bats that roost here. Enjoy! 


Has spring arrived?

Posted by Hywel Couch on 1 March 2011
Nice to have some flowering Daffodils for St David's day!
Snowdrops have been in flower for a few weeks here.
With the crocuses starting to bloom, some areas are a sea of purple!
Look at these hazel catkins. Can you see why they are known as 'lambs tails'?
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First of all, Happy Saint David’s Day to everyone! March has arrived, but is spring on its way? This morning, I went for a short stroll through the museum grounds to search for signs of spring. Here’s what I found…

February 2011

A Feathery February Half Term

Posted by Gareth Bonello on 14 February 2011
Blue Tit photo from BTO/Christine.M.Matthews
Starling Nest photo from BTO/Hugh Insley
Pied Flycatcher photo from BTO/Mark.R.Taylor
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This week is National Nest Box Week and next week is Half Term so we've decided to combine the two and have bird-themed activities at T? Gwyrdd this weekend and all next week as well. We'll be making bird feeders and nest boxes and there'll be a free info pack all about how to attract birds to your garden and look after them.

With the weather looking increasingly Spring-like at the moment it is time to get those nest boxes up before the breeding season gets going. Spring and summer is a very busy time for the birds as they have to feed all those chicks as well as themselves, so any help that comes from us is most welcome I'm sure!

New Nature Den in Oriel 1!

Posted by Hywel Couch on 14 February 2011
Nature Den in Oriel 1
Your works of art and new shelves.
Seating are for viewing the nature films.
Wildlife montage wall panorama.

On Thursday and Friday last week, work began on revamping the existing nature area of Oriel 1 here in St Fagans. This is a very exciting part of the Explore Nature project at the museum, which sees us drawing attention to the wealth of wildlife that can be found on site. 

The first step was to decorate the area. We chose woodland themed colours and large colourful panels which show some of the animals that live within the museum. All of these panels are now in place, as you can see from these pictures. Hopefully this has made the area very inviting and a fun way to learn about our wildlife. 

We also see the new ‘nature den’ as being an activity area where a range of nature and wildlife based activities can take place. For this we have installed a new shelving area which will be used for displaying specimens, keeping games and activities as well as being a bookshelf for a range of nature and wildlife books. We also now have an area for displaying your artwork, so come along and do some drawing! 

This week will see the installation of the technological aspects, which we are very excited about. Along the wall with the wildlife montage (between the blackbird and the bat) we will be putting up our new flat screen television. This television will be linked up to our new live bird feeder camera so you will be able to watch the various birds feeding. There will also be access to other footage taken from our wildcams, from batcam and our underwater pond camera. 

As well as the footage from our cameras, we have also had some St Fagans wildlife documentaries made. These will also be available to watch on the screen, from the comfort of the sofa if you so wish. The first of the films shows a typical day in the life of the wildlife here, while the second concentrates on the Lesser Horseshoe bats that roost in the Tannery here. 

We are very happy with how the nature den is looking and we hope to have everything installed and up and running ready from half term, which is next week! Why not come along to St Fagans during the half term holiday and have a look and let us know what you think? 

If you can’t make it during half term, be sure to attend the big launch of the Explore Nature project, which is taking place on Saturday April the 2nd! For more information click here.

January 2011

Get ready to count...

Posted by Hywel Couch on 24 January 2011
Greater Spotted Woodpecker feeding on our peanut feeder outside the bird hide.
Male Chaffinch enjoying some seeds.

Do you enjoy watching birds in your garden? Do you have a favourite place to go to watch birds? This coming weekend (29th and 30th January) is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, an annual survey of the nations birds.

All it takes is an hour of your time to record which birds visit your garden or local park. For a list of local parks in Cardiff, click here.

You could even visit us here at St Fagans museum to record which birds you see from our bird hide. Wherever you choose to go, make sure you wrap up warm, it can be very cold work!

Registration is free and all the information you need is available from the RSPB's website: 

What will you see??


Posted by Gareth Bonello on 13 January 2011
The road on entering the site...
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First it was the snow and now it's the rain! The Ely burst its banks at St Fagans today and rose pretty high. A mere trickle compared to what's happening over in queensland though... You can help victims of the floods in Australia here

December 2010

The icy touch of winter

Posted by Gareth Bonello on 7 December 2010
Frosty female blackbird
Frosty trees
Frosty Robin

Just thought I'd pop quick post up here with some photos of the cold weather at St Fagans. It's very cold but very pretty at the same time - especially at dawn and sunset (which you've probably noticed are only 5 minutes apart now).

If you feel like coming to the Christmas Nights this week please bring warm clothes and a torch. There's loads to see and do but it's not going to be warm! We'll be showing you how to make your own Christmas decorations using just newspapers, scissors, glue and the mystifying magic known as 'arts & crafts'.

Also, please feed the birds as they are cold. Look at that poor Robin. Freezing.

November 2010

Visitors to the bird hide

Posted by Hywel Couch on 23 November 2010
Greater Spotted Woodpecker feeding on our peanut feeder outside the bird hide.
A Great Tit and a Blue Tit feeding together.
Male Chaffinch enjoying some seeds.
Female Chaffinch feeding. Note the difference in colour to the male.
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As the woodland birds get used to the new surroundings, the feeders outside the bird hide have been getting busier and busier. At times the feeders are covered in assorted tits, with the occasional nuthatch, chaffinch and robin to keep them company. Every once in a while a greater spotted woodpecker has been appearing too, forcing the smaller birds to hide for a short time.

The hide is very close to being ready to open to the public, still on schedule to be open before the end of this month. If you are thinking of visiting, remember to wrap up nice and warm, it can get quite cold in there at times. Even better, bring along a nice flask of tea!

The hide is a great place to get some great pictures of wildlife, here are some that we have taken of birds we have caught feeding outside the bird hide.


Developments in the Woodlands!

Posted by Hywel Couch on 3 November 2010
Bird Hide
Bird sound winder.
Bird feeding at feeding station.
View from inside the hide.
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This is my first blog since being appointed Exploring Nature Facilitator here at St Fagans museum. The purpose of my job is to try and encourage visitors to take notice of the wealth of nature and animals living within the museum. 

As part of this project, there have recently been some developments in woodlands at St Fagans, near the woodlands walk. Alongside one of the information panels, we have had a bird sound winder installed! By simply selecting the bird you want and winding the arm you can now listen to the songs and calls of 8 of our woodland birds! It’s a great way to get to know the different bird songs!

We have also recently had a bird hide installed in the woods. This is a great place to come and relax while watching some of our birds feeding at the feeding station. So far we have noted at least 9 different species visiting the feeders, from assorted tits to a greater spotted woodpecker. Of course, being in the woodlands we also get the occasional squirrel visiting too.

The bird hide should be open to the public soon, hopefully before the end of the month! It really is a lovely place to come with a thermos of hot tea and relax. We are currently working on some information panels which will hope to have up ready for early spring.

If you have any suggestions about how we should use the bird hide or even a name for it, please let me know by commenting. Keep an eye on this blog for information on forthcoming nature events and activities. 

The project is funded by Biffaward though the Landfill Communities Fund and by Legal and General.

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