First hatchlings for 2 years!
It's official - the Peregrines on the Clock Tower have successfully produced young - the first since 2008. On Thursday 22 April at 2.40pm the female bird Stacey was seen at the nest with a fresh kill, carefully distributing pieces of it in the nest - but annoyingly we couldn't actually see any chicks.
However, our suspicions were confirmed over the next few days as we saw a white fluffy head appear in the nest....then another on Tuesday 27 April, then finally one more today! Today the male seemed to be doing a good job of bringing lots of food for the chicks, before taking a well earned rest right on the top of the tower - the rain wasn't going to spoil his kip!
The chicks are expected to fledge in late May, but will remain at the nest for several months, relying on their parents for food while they learn how to fly and hunt. As the parents teach their young the awesome flying and hunting skills that peregrines are renowned for, it will mean fantastic aerial displays and some amazing views for us down on the ground.
Building a roundhouse
Over the past weeks we've been building a new roundhouse here. Join us over the next few weeks to see the building develop. Dafydd Wiliam is busy constructing the roundhouse and I'll be around to explain the process to you. You can follow the daily developments on
This Saturday and Monday (1st and 3rd of May) you can join me to experience fire lighting and cooking techniques. I wonder how similar these techniques actually are to those used by people during the Iron Age?
Adult Activities in St Teilo's Church
Right, I needed that! After a marathon of Easter activities, two days in sunny Paris were just what the doctor ordered. How I ended up back in the Musée Cluny is anybody's guess.
A busman's holiday, of course, is better than no holiday at all, and I was very happy to revisit a place which has been a source of inspiration for many years. The Cluny (not to be confused with The Clooney, a very different, and possibly imagined museum specialising in the disappearing art of commedia dell'eyebrow) has an unrivalled collection of Medieval artefacts. From eerie headless sculptures, bawdy stained glass and keepsakes dredged from the river Seine, to lush tapestries, bejewelled crowns and priceless manuscripts: it's the kind of place geeks like me go to get goosebumps.
St Teilo's Church seemed to serve a similar role over Easter, as we welcomed visitors old and new to experience 'that feeling' and talk about all things churchy. I was running guided tours focussing on Easter Week in 1520: what would be happening, how things would look (and smell!), and how the paintings and sculptures would have played a role in all this activity. At the last count, over 800 people attended and I was left with a very fuzzy feeling that I'd actually done something to earn my chocolate egg this year.
Later, the south aisle was transformed into a mini-workshop, where budding artists of all ages came to try their hand at traditional painting. Using stencils, ochre, pouncers and some eggy paint, over three hundred Holbeins-in-waiting had a go at making a Tudor portrait, using the same techniques and materials as we used when reconstructing the Church murals. As you will see on Sian's Oriel 1 blog below, there was also a chance to create your own Tudor frame, to display the portrait in all its glory. I think it's safe to say that it was a very enjoyable workshop for all involved, even though I got ochre pigment all over myself, and ended up looking like I'd had an accident with some heavy-duty fake tan.
Thoroughly exfoliated and with my head in the back-to-work position, the cycle starts again: conceiving of events, researching, evaluating, preparing and then waiting, waiting, waiting for you lovely people to ring up and book a place! And since I am in the habit of ending my posts with a shameless plug: here's a roundup of events for adults, taking place around St Teilo's Church in the months ahead.
Art Day for Adults over 50 on 6 May, which includes a traditional pigment workshop, free lunch and materialsand much more! Places are limited, so do ring up in advance to avoid disappointment.
Science and the Medieval Church, 29-31 May: a thought-provoking talk held in St Teilo's Church.
Y Gwr Kadarn, 26 June: the first performance in over 400 years of this rediscovered Welsh gem.
After one of the coldest and longest winters on record, spring has well and truly arrived. The weather over the past few weeks has been warm enough to put recent summers to shame. Add to that the explosion of flowers in every field, garden and crack in the pavement and you’ve got a spectacular spring in the making.
The extra-long winter has meant that many species that normally flower early in the season have delayed until now. For example the Hazel catkins (‘lambs tails’ to you and me), which flowered here at the end of January in last year were only just starting to emerge in early March this year.
At St Fagans this late flowering has meant that many early and late species are flowering together; Snowdrops and Celandines, Daffodils and Bluebells, so there’s an absolute feast for the eyes at the moment! See here for an interesting article about this year’s unusual weather and what it may mean for wildlife.
Spring isn’t all botany though, and the birds have been getting steadily louder since the weather has been improving. This is the time of year when the feathered folk attempt to attract a mate and defend a territory by singing as loud and as often as possible. Once this task is achieved they have to build a nest and raise a brood (or maybe even two if they have the energy).
This leads me to some rather exciting news that we have a Great Tit nesting in our specially rigged nest box. At the moment she is just building the nest and roosting there in the evening, but once she lays her eggs (fingers crossed) it is going to be extremely exciting! I’ll be keeping a keen eye on events and posting any activity on my Twitter page – so sign up if you want to get tweets about our nest of tweeters on Twitter!
Many birds have flown from the continent or even Africa to take advantage of the glut of insects that hatch here at this time of year. Warblers such as Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler and Blackcap make up a large number of these migrants and they add plenty of new voices to the dawn chorus which is at its best right now. There are still a few places on my dawn chorus walk this Saturday if you fancy an early start and a walk about St Fagans.
Anyway, best be off. But keep checking back as this is going to be a busy season!
Daffodil Drawing Competition 2010
Pupils were asked to draw and label their daffodils. We received many fantastic drawings!
Professor Plant awarded each school and home educated family with sets of sturdy binoculars and easy to construct birdhouses.
Certificates & prizes for Super Scientists!
Congratulations to everyone who took part in the Spring Bulbs for Schools investigation this year! Participants completed challenges and kept weather records to earn Super Scientist certificates & prizes. Many thanks to the really Welsh company for supplying our daffodils and the 1st prize - a daffodil picking day at their farm near Bridgend. Also a big thanks to the staff at Kenfig Nature Reserve.
The standard was extremely high this year and Professor Plant would like to thank all the schools that made this investigation a success! Below are details of the schools and home educated participants who excelled.
1st place: Pentrepoeth Junior School, Morriston, Swansea. Lead by teacher Kay Mills. Prize: A trip to the really Welsh farm & Kenfig Nature Reserve.
2nd place: Glyncollen Primary School also of Morriston, Swansea. Lead by teacher Ann Richards. Prize: A pair of digital binoculars.
Home educated winners: The Jones family from Llandrindod Wells and the Butterworth family from Carmarthenshire have shown real commitment to their recording. Prize: A trip to the really Welsh farm & Kenfig Nature Reserve.
Home educated winners: The Jones family from Llandrindod Wells and the Butterworth family from Carmarthenshire have shown real commitment to their recording. Prize: A trip to the really Welsh farm & Kenfig Nature Reserve.Highly commended schools: Ysgol Nant Y Coed, Ysgol Talhaiarn, Howell's School Llandaff, Ysgol Y Ffridd, Ysgol Porth Y Felin, Pembroke Dock Community school, Ysgol Penycae (Ystradgynlais) Prizes: Super scientist certificates and seedlings for their school.
Schools noted for their dedication and good record keeping: Ysgol Gynradd Deganwy Primary, Milford Haven Junior school, St. Joseph's R C Primary, Coleg Powys, Glan Conwy, Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn, Ysgol Pen Y Garth, Bishop Childs CIW Primary School, Murch Junior School, Newton Primary, Oakfield Primary school, Windsor Clive Primary, Ysgol Gynradd Brynconin, Ysgol Gynradd Deganwy Primary. Prizes: Each pupil to receive super scientist certificates and seedlings for their school.
Late flowers = late report: Normally by now we are able to compare this years flowering dates with those recorded in previous years, but as it has been so cold - some records are still being sent in. Over the next few weeks Professor Plant will be working on this report and it will be published on the Spring Bulbs for Schools website www.museumwales.ac.uk/scan/bulbs
All the preparation and planning for the Slate Garden began before Christmas, but all the hard work began on the actual garden itself in February. We worked together with Gwynedd Council’s Residential and Day Services to create our fantastic new garden - and here are some pictures of the proses.
The pictures on this blog will allow you to see the whole process, from beginning to end.
We love our new Slate Garden, and we hope that you will get the chane to come to Llanberis to enjoy the garden too!
Tudor portraits and Tudor Patterns
We have been busy making Tudor patterns and Tudor portraits! The plan was that visitors could paint a tudor portrait in the Church and a frame for their portrait in Oriel 1. As the portraits were a little bit tricky to make the activity was suitable for ages 7 and up, but littler ones could still get to work on those patterns!
So here are some frames ready for a portrait to be placed inside them...
... and here are some wonderful framed portraits!
Lots of you made some beautiful patterns inspired by the murals in the church....
...and then there were a couple that perhaps weren't so tudor inspired but were wonderful nonetheless.
Calling all peregrine watchers!
The Peregrines on the Clock Tower viewing scheme is now open.
The RSPB will be showing you the Peregrines on the live nest camera in the main hall of the National Museum Cardiff from now until the end of August.
On certain days there will also be an information marquee outside the museum, where you can get an even closer view of the birds with telescopes.
Don't miss out on any of the action!
Finally, my daffodils opened on the 28th of March. Here are a few pictures. Many more have now opened in the schools across Wales. Happy Easter!