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Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

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The Big Garden Birdwatch

Penny Tomkins, 23 January 2015

Hello Bulb Buddies,

There is an exciting scientific survey being conducted this weekend, and your help is needed! It’s called the Big Garden Birdwatch and is organised by the RSPB, a conservation charity that help to look after our wildlife. You can help by registering online here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ and downloading an information pack. You then spend one hour this weekend documenting the birds that visit your garden or a green space near your home. The information pack on the RSPB website has a guide to help you identify the birds! Then, upload your findings to the RSPB website so that they can feed into the nationwide survey of bird populations, aimed at providing an insight into how our feathery friends are doing in the wild!

The Big Garden Birdwatch has been running since 1979! You can find out about previous results here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/previous-results/ . An annual, nationwide survey is a fantastic way to spot changes in bird populations. This is important, because if we know that numbers of a certain bird are dwindling, we can start to look at why this is happening and make changes that will help those birds to survive. An example of this is the Starling. The Big Garden Birdwatch has shown an 80% decrease in the Starling population since 1979. The RSPB has been raising awareness of what we can do to help these birds, such as keeping the grass in parts of our gardens short so that Starlings can more easily reach the grubs and insects they feed on near the roots of the grass.

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Starling in the winter (picture courtesy of the RSPB website).

Here are some ideas on how to attract birds to your garden: http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/387868-top-10-bird-feeding-tips-this-winter . And some fun, bird-related activities: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/family-fun/ .

St Fagans National History Museum and National Museum Cardiff will be hosting Big Garden Birdwatch activities this weekend! If you want to be involved here are links to the What’s On guides for more details:

Cardiff         St Fagans

 

I’d like to send a big thank you to those of you who sent your weather data in last week. I’m looking forward to this weeks data and finding out whether it has been warmer or colder and how many of you have had snow or hail!! Remember, if you send all your data in and let me know online when your plants have flowered, then you will receive Super Scientist awards and be in for a chance to win a Nature Trip!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

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Starlings (picture from RSPB website)

ladies in waiting

Bernice Parker, 23 January 2015

Our pregnant ewes came in from the field just after Christmas for extra care, shelter and food - this is important for strong lamb development. The ewes were all scanned in the New Year so that we can separate them into two groups: those expecting a single lamb in one group, twins or triplets in the other. The blue and green marks on their backs are the farmer’s code for whose got what inside them.


There are currently about 100 breeding ewes in the flock and we expect 150+ lambs. Our ewes are 2 years old the first time they lamb. The gestation period for a sheep is 5 months - the ewes come into season in September and we put our rams in the field in with the girls on 1st October. This means lambing will commence in the first week of March. We choose this schedule in order to have lambs on show in the Museum's fields for Easter.


So for the next few weeks they’ll be loafing around in the shed eating and sleeping….

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Sunbathing, and generally being pampered.

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Somewhere in amongst them is Poopsie, one of our bottle fed lambs from two years ago. She got the name after pooping all over my leg the first time I fed her.

Sometimes hand reared lambs will stay very tame, but Poopsie has merged back into the flock. Just occasionally though, there’s a look in the eye that makes me think ‘maybe it’s you……’

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Foul Bay

Teresa Darbyshire, 21 January 2015

20.01.15

Well, Foul Bay did live up to its name on what actually turned out to be the best weather we’ve had so far. All of my sampling sites are generally chosen for having easy access off the road, but I had taken a risk this time and picked a site where the road ended before the coast, leaving what I thought would be a reasonably distanced walk. However, as the road finished close to a settlement we stopped in for a quick chat and some advice about access to the shore. The advice was that our chosen route would be unsuitable but there was another track that would get us close a little way back down the road, it was a ‘little soft’ but our 4x4 ‘should’ be fine!

We found the track and made it to the first wire gate (a particular type of access gate here that involves removing part of the fence and then driving through and replacing it). Underneath the wire gate was a very soft, deep-looking area of water (see photo), which with the peaty ground here normally signifies something to be avoided! Looking onwards, the supposedly clear track almost instantly disappeared (to our inexperienced eyes) and therefore we debated the wisdom of continuing. The alternative was to walk to the shore, which appeared to be around 2-3 miles away! As we were on our own and the people from the settlement had driven away, we knew there was no help should problems arise (i.e. getting irretrievably ‘bogged’). We eventually made the difficult decision that this one would have to be cancelled. This left us with a rather disconsolate two hour drive back empty-handed, one to put down to experience unfortunately. A foul day indeed!

Tomorrow we are flying to Bleaker Island, to the southeast of the islands, which fills in a large gap in my coverage around the islands. Fingers crossed that we can find a variety of shores here to cover and improve our record!

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Wire gate

Digging for worms in the Falkland Islands

Teresa Darbyshire, 20 January 2015

18.01.2015

First of all, here is the photo of the reproductive stage of a worm (photo 1), which I found during night sampling two days ago, but forgot to send! Very nice to collect, just unfortunately not what I was after.

Mare Harbour was an interesting visit, having never been down to a shore almost completely surrounded by barbed wire before (photo 2)! This shore is within the military area here so I was lucky to get access at all, although the officer on duty seemed totally bemused as to why I would even want to. It turned out to be a very hard and rocky area with some areas of flat rocks over gravelly sand and other areas of vertically ridged rock. The flat rock areas had a reasonable diversity of species although collecting was hard work as there were only small numbers of animals to find. Still I did come away with some animals I definitely haven’t seen before including the ‘pretty’ catch of the day, which was a syllid (see photo 3) with its wonderfully intricate hair-do. There were also many flabelligerids (as difficult to say as spell: photo 4). This particular strange species covers itself with mucus, which silt adheres to. This gives it the appearance of jelly when you find it.

Brendan also managed to get out on a dive today which he was very pleased about although his description of it being ‘just like West Wales’ led me to believe it wasn’t the best that the Falkland Islands can offer. However, he brought me back a present of 4 bags of mud. Not the most romantic present I’ve ever been offered certainly, but still there were some nice worms in there including a bamboo worm (maldanid: photo 5). These worms are often very hard to collect whole making identification almost impossible, however, this one was completely intact.

19.01.15

Today saw us driving up to the north east of the island to the region of Rincon Grande. As usual I had no idea what to expect, but with the wind howling again I merely hoped the rain would hold off, so that the couple of hours on an exposed beach would not be too gruelling. I got my wish for most of the duration, to ask for more would just be greedy I suppose!

The shore was mostly rocky again but with one small inlet of softer muddy sand. I set Brendan to work with the fork (photo  6) and studiously watched what came up – lots of tubes and other worms dangling down! We spent some happy time here slowly teasing the long worms out of their sand beds and shoving other tubes into pots before moving on.

Further round the bay in the rockier sections we moved on to rock turning, gaining a small diversity of worms which again were small in number and difficult to find. Working independently with forceps and pot in hand (photo 7), Brendan managed a larger haul than me, which he was very proud of although apparently we were not competing!

On our last stop we returned to our starting point in the softer sediment but at the low tide mark this time to see if the type of worms had changed. There were certainly a couple of different types and we also found an unusual type of crustacean, a serolid isopod, which is flattened and ‘trilobite-like’ and often found in pairs (photo 8). These certainly were an intriguing distraction. Shortly afterwards the tide turned and we were out of time, which meant we had to head back.

Off to the northwest tomorrow to Foul Bay – hopefully not as bad as the name sounds!

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Photo 1: a reproductive stage of a marine bristleworm, called an epitoke

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Photo 2: Mare Harbour, Falkland Islands

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Photo 3: a type of marine bristleworm called a syllid

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Photo 4: type of marine bristleworm (polychaete) called a flabelligerid 

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Photo 5: a type of marine bristleworm called a bamboo worm (maldanid)

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Photo 6: Brendan digging

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Photo 7: turning rocks in search of marine bristleworms

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Photo 8: a pair of serolid isopods

Ar y 19eg o Ionawr 1915 mae @dyddiadurKate yn sôn am ddynion yn ymuno â'r lluoedd arfog: ‘Ymdaith y milwyr trwy Station. Eu noson yn y Bala ymunodd 25 yng Nghorwen a 5 ym Mhenllyn’.

Mae’r cofnod hwn yn cael ei wirio gan erthygl bapur newydd. Ar yr 22ain o Ionawr mae’r ‘Cambrian News and Welsh Farmers Gazette’  yn sôn am ymdaith gan deithlen recriwtio o’r Corfflu Byddin Cymru, trwy’r Sir Feirionnydd a Sir Gaernarfon. Roedd band pib a drwm a band y ‘Royal Oakley’ yn arwain yr ymdaith ym Mlaenau Ffestiniog ar Ddydd Llun 18 Ionawr, a'r llwybr ar Ddydd Mawrth yn cynnwys Corwen a Bala. Mae’r erthygl yn sôn am y gobaith y byddai’r y milwyr yn dod yn gyfeillion gyda’r dynion o’r oedran milwrol, i’w hannog i ymuno â’r ‘lliwiau’ (enw arall ar y Corfflu). Gallwch ddarllen yr erthygl ar wefan Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru (yn Saesneg).

Ar ôl y dechrau'r Rhyfel yn Awst 1914 roedd ymgyrch fawr i recriwtio mwy o ddynion i’r lluoedd arfog i gynyddu'r rhengoedd. Yn ogystal ag ymdaith recriwtio, agorwyd  swyddfa recriwtio ac aeth posteri recriwtio i fyny dros Brydain. Yng Ngymru, cynhyrchodd y llywodraeth bosteri Cymraeg hefyd, i apelio at ddynion oedd yn siarad Cymraeg.

I ymuno gyda’r lluoedd arfog roedd rhaid pasio prawf meddygol. Os oedd y dynion yn iach, roedden nhw’n cael ‘Llyfr Bach’ gyda gwybodaeth fel cerdyn meddygol. Erbyn Rhagfyr 1914 roedd 62,0000 o Gymry wedi ymuno â’r lluoedd arfog ac erbyn Ionawr 1915 roedd 1,000,000 ddynion o Brydain wedi ymuno â’r lluoedd arfog. Y flwyddyn wedyn, yn 1916, dechreuodd y broses o gonsgripsiwn ym mis Mawrth.

[image: Recruiting parade in Swansea led by band of 6th Battalion Welsh regiment]

Recruiting parade in Swansea, with the band of the 6th Battalion Welch Regiment. Many recruitment marches in Wales used bands to raise attention.

[image: New recruits in civilian clothes marching in a column down a street in Rhondda]

New recruits in the Rhondda marching after joining the Army.

[image: Soldiers' Small Book showing information held within]

Soldiers' Small Book containg a medical card