Catch up on all the latest news to find out what's going on with nature at this time of year.
Exploring Our Woodlands
Give and Gain Day 2014
Last week, as part of Give and Gain Day 2014, we had 50 volunteers from the Lloyds Banking Group helping with a number of projects here at St Fagans. Some helped with the Gardening Department, some helped the Historic Buildings Unit while some assisted with a project alongside the Alzheimer’s Society. Myself and Bernice had the help of 11 volunteers to build a dead hedge in the woodlands near the bird hide.
We had been planning on building a dead hedge in near the bird hide for a while, for a number of reasons. A dead hedge would act as a screen for approaching the bird hide, meaning that birds on the feeders would be less likely to be scared by the approaching visitors. A dead hedge also acts as a wildlife corridor, giving cover to a wide variety of wildlife as they move through the woodlands. Visitors had also begun cutting through the woodland, and one section of the dead hedge was to act as a deterrent meaning visitors would be more likely to stick to the paths.
The first task of the day was the sharpening of the fence posts. The posts are needed for structure and need to be driven firmly into the ground. Creating the sharp end obviously makes this much easier. After creating pilot holes, the poles were then driven into the ground using a sledge hammer. Once the posts were in place, we could then begin to assemble the dead hedge.
A dead hedge is built up of dead woodland material. Over the past couple of weeks I have been asking the gardeners and farmers here to help by collecting any trimmings and off cuts and delivering these to the bird hide for use in this project. Everyone was incredibly helpful, and we ended up with a vast pile of material… or so I thought. Dead hedging takes a lot of material, so along with some of the volunteers I headed into the woods to do a bit of clearing to gain more material.
After lunch, we headed up into the woods near the site of Bryn Eryr, the Iron Age farmstead currently being built. This area has previously been cleared so there was a lot of cut material for us to collect. This was loaded into a trailer and taken over to the bird hide. The afternoon finished with us using this material to finish the dead hedge. As an artistic final touch, we used some lime cuttings to add extra height and a certain je ne sais quois to the finished hedge.
As these pictures show, the day was a huge success! The weather could not have been better and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. The 2 sections of dead hedge we wanted to build got done, and I’ve already earmarked some projects for future volunteers! The amount of work done in a day was incredible, it would have taken me and Bernice a lot longer to do without the help of the volunteers. A huge thank you to everyone who helped us and the other projects too!
Big Garden Bird Watch
Last weekend was RSPB’s annual Big Garden Bird Watch, the world’s largest bird survey! On Saturday I joined in the fun by making fat ball birdfeeders with some of the visitors to the museum. Inspired by the Big Garden Bird Watch, I spent a little time this week in the bird hide at St Fagans. Here are a few photos of what I saw…
Did you take part? What birds you see in your garden? Remember to report your findings to the RSPB - Big Garden Bird Watch
Keep in touch with the wildlife at St Fagans by following on Twitter
A batty summer at St Fagans!
I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe how quickly August flew by! It seems as if it was only yesterday that schools were breaking up, but now it is already time for us to welcome school visits again for a brand new school year!
This summer was slightly different for myself in St Fagans. Due to the redevelopment project we have lost use of the Tŷ Gwyrdd eco house, so our summer events this year had a slightly more nomadic feel than normal! It was nice to visit other parts of the museum and to explore some of the wildlife found in different places.
In total this summer, around 1000 people took part in a variety of nature activities within the museum, from minibeast bug hunts in the woods to our very popular twilight bat walks around the site.
The summer began with us re-opening the bird hide at its new location near Hendre Wen barn. After initial worries of whether we would attract similar numbers of birds as the previous location, I was very relieved after spending 30 minutes in the hide and spotting 11 different species. Hopefully we will continue to attract such a wide variety of birds to our feeders. The bird hide is open every day, so on your next visit be sure to pop in and see what you spot!
In August we had a bit of a bat scare at the Tannery. The Tannery building is home to a roost of rare Lesser Horseshoe bats. A small electrical fire broke out one morning in the room directly below the roof space where the bats normally roost. Thankfully a quick response from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service ensured that the fire did not spread. Luckily, the bats had flown to an area of the building unaffected by the fire. The story even made it onto the BBC website! Thanks to Anwen for the pictures!
The bats have now returned to their normal roosting spot and they seem to have been largely unaffected by the event. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for our bat camera which is situated in the building. A combination of smoke and water damage means that we will have to replace the camera, which we will be doing as soon as possible!
Bats at St Fagans seem to be going from strength to strength. We have 11 of the 18 British species known roosting within the museum grounds, including the elusive Nathusius Pipistrelle bat which has been found roosting in 2 of our buildings. Previous to this, there were only 2 known roosting locations for this species in the whole of Wales. This story also made the news recently!
This year we held 3 Twilight Batwalks, all of which booked up well in advance. Thanks to all who came and apologies to anyone who tried to book but were unable to! Next year we are planning on having 4 walks throughout August, with the possibility of more depending on demand! If you came on one of our batwalks, or took part in any nature events this summer, please let us know what you though, either by commenting here or sending an us an email!
Finally a big thanks to our new team of volunteers who helped out over the summer! Having an extra pair or two of hands during workshops and events is invaluable and means that we can offer a better experience to our visitors. I look forward to working with you again in the near future!
Easter in the Tŷ Gwyrdd - Corkboards and tomato seeds.
Another busy Easter fortnight has been and gone, one which saw over 4000 people visit the Tŷ Gwyrdd at St Fagans. Between the 25th of March and the 4th of April we ran a range of workshops from upcycling corkboards to planting tomoato seeds via an April Fools day quiz.
One of our workshops, Grow Now, Eat Later, was designed as a way to encourage visitors to think about growing their own food. There was a chance for families to plant a few tomato seeds to take home with them. Hopefully, over the coming months, with the right kind of nurturing, these seeds will grow into healthy tomato plants and will eventually produce a crop of delicious tomatoes. I’ll let you know how my own attempts fare!
For 2 days we were joined by Wood for the Trees Wales who held an Up-Cycling Workshop in the Tŷ Gwyrdd. This involved creating notice boards from old picture frames and cork tiles. This was an extremely popular activity with all who visited, in fact we used up every single picture frame and every scrap of cork tile! If you are interested in similar workshops, visit Wood for the Trees Wales’ Facebook page for more info!
As Easter Monday fell on April the 1st, we thought it was only right to hold an event for April Fools day. We created an quiz around the house so that visitors could test themselves to find out if they were Eco Cool or indeed an April Fool. Luckily it turned out most of our visitors were indeed Eco Cool… with only a few exceptions. After completing the quiz there was a chance to make badge to show off your eco credentials to friends and family.
As part of the Making History Project, the use of the Tŷ Gwyrdd will be changing. As the main visitor entrance is being upgraded, the Tŷ Gwyrdd will form part of a temporary entrance to St Fagans.
Over the years, we’ve had a fantastic time running numerous workshops in the Tŷ Gwyrdd and meeting literally thousands of wonderful poeple. Thanks to the many, many people who have helped us achieve this. Rest assured, lots of our workshops will continue, albeit in different locations throughout St Fagans Museum. Watch this space!
Half term fun in the Ty Gwyrdd!
Next week is half term and that means there will be lots going on at the T? Gwyrdd at St Fagans.
On Tuesday and Wednesday next week, 30th and 31st of October, we will be celebrating Halloween by dedicating two days of activities to some of our favourite residents of the museum. We have many species of bat living at St Fagans and there will be a chance to find out much more about these fascinating creatures! What facts do you know about bats? How many of these are true and how many are myths??
With the help of our team of volunteers, including Anne-mie who's an artist, we will also be creating a batty art installation in the T? Gwyrdd. We are hoping to create a large willow bat which we can hang in the house and surround with many, many baby bats! We need your help so that we can make as many of these baby bats as possible! As you can see from the picture, these will all be made from recycled newspaper, elastic bands and pipe cleaners!
Next week also sees St Fagans’ Halloween Nights events. The museum will be open after dark with many activities taking place. Again, we will be championing the bat with some crafty activities taking place each night. Halloween Nights take place between Tuesday the 30th of October and Thursday the 1st of November. Tickets MUST be purchased in advance. Click here for more info
Towards the end of next week we will be leaving Halloween behind and taking a look at some of the brilliant foodstuffs that are in season at this time of year! On Friday and Saturday (2nd & 3rd of November) I will be cooking up a treat in the T? Gwyrdd kitchen using some traditional recipes and ingredients grown in the T? Gwyrdd garden! Come along to taste some chutneys, soup and maybe even some cakes! There will also be recipe sheets that you can take home to try out some of the recipes for yourself!
All in all, next week promises to be very busy but lots of fun with plenty going on, so why not pop over to the T? Gwyrdd to see us!
Summer Snaps! Wildlife Photography Workshops @NMC
Over the past two weeks we have been running family activities linked to the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 Exhibition here at National Museum Cardiff.
Over 400 of you took part and it has been a fantastic fortnight of photographic fun! I've been busy uploading as many photos as possible to the NMC Photo Club Flickr page and I have to say they look great! When you visit the Flickr page the photos are organised into sets on the right hand side of the page so if you took part all you need to do is click on the date of your visit to the Museum and look for your name!
The photos will be going up on the screen in the Clore Discovery Centre in the Museum on Saturday the 8th of September so if you came to the workshops pop in to see your pictures on display at the National Museum!
I'd like to say a big thank you to Cat, Lauren and Catherine for all their excellent work in running the workshops and I'd like to thank everyone who came along to take part as well. Thanks!
Explore Nature at St Fagans this half term!
If you are anything like me, you will have been glued to the BBC’s fantastic Springwatch programmes over the last few days. Spring is a brilliant time of year with so much going on all around us, and St Fagans Museum is a fantastic place to get up close and personal with a wide range of wildlife!
This half term, why not come and visit us and pick up one of our family nature trails, which you can find at the main reception and in Oriel 1. The trail will take you to the best places in the museum to spot our fantastic wildlife. You can watch birds feeding from the comfort of our bird hide, visit the Tannery where you can watch our roost of Lesser Horseshoe bats on our live infra-red camera and even peer into the water pits to see newts and other creatures that have made it their home.
Throughout the museum there are birds nesting, whether in some of the old buildings, in trees or in some of the nest boxes that we have put up. Look at the Greater Spotted woodpecker (pictured) nesting in a tree. You can even watch a family of blue tits nesting in one of our nest boxes live on our website.
Hopefully the beautiful weather we’ve had recently will return as I will be spending time next week showing off some of our wildlife highlights. From Wednesday to Friday next week (June 6-8) I will in the bird hide from 11-1 with binoculars and I.D sheets and then at the Tannery from 2-4 showing off our colony of bats with the bat cam. If you get the chance, pick up a trail and come and say hi!
Video Clip, taken 30/05/2012
A New Year of Exploring Nature at St Fagans
First of all I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! 2011 was a very busy year for the Explore Nature project here at St Fagans. The project was officially launched back in April, and we had a full calendar of events throughout the spring and summer, taking a closer look at the fascinating wildlife here at the museum.
Thank you to all who came along and took part in our events, whether it was bird spotting in the bird hide, pond dipping for a closer look at our newts or watching the lesser-horseshoe bats on our infra-red bat camera. If you missed out, many of these events will be happening again later in the year. Keep an eye on the What’s On pages for details. http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?site=stfagans
The bird hide, of course, is still open to visitors. Situated along the woodland walk it is a great place to relax and watch our woodland birds at the feeding station. With the weather as cold as it is, I’m sure the birds are very appreciative of the food as it can be hard for them to find food at this time of year! If you find the bird hide a little cold, you can watch some of our birds feeding from the comfort of Nature Den in the Oriel 1 gallery, or even from home. http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/woodlands/wildcams/birdfeed_cam/
This month gives you all the perfect opportunity to find out what birds visit your own gardens. The RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch takes place over the weekend 28-29th of January. All you need to do is spend an hour watching you garden and keeping track of which birds visit. You can register and find out more by visiting the RSPB’s website. http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/
This morning we took advantage of the dry, yet very windy, weather to set-up some nest boxes. We are hoping to attract Great Tits to one and Robins to the other. Both are fitted with cameras, so if they do get used, we should get some really good footage of the eggs and chicks. We will of course share any footage we do get with you!
Da na na na na... bat cam! bat cam!
Come to see the St.fagans bat cam, where you can watch Lesser Horseshoe Bats and their babies. The camera is based in the Tannery buildings and can be viewed daily from April until October.
Better still, come along to one of our Explore Nature Activity Days when Hywel Couch will be at hand to answer questions on bats and birds. http://tinyurl.com/3uv8fyd
Or if you would prefer to get out after dark, book yourself a place on our family bat walk. http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=5029
Today, after installing some new Infra Red lighting to improve the image on the bat cam we were able to count 50 or so bats, 20 of which were babies born over the summer.
Last week, a team of bat experts attended a specialist course run by Wildwood Ecology. During the course they recorded 6 different types of bats living on site. Including: Lesser Horseshoe, Natterers, Serotine, Soprano pipistrelle, Brown Long Eared and the Daubenton's Bat.