by Kathy James

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Albatross

Albatross is a mighty fine tune by one of my all time favourite bands ‘Fleetwood Mac’. In fact, how about setting the scene by opening up a new a tab and playing it as you read?! Just click here.

The reason I have chosen to call this post ‘Albatross’ has nothing to do with the instrumental though. Yesterday, Wednesday 19th September I received a call from Dave Bateson, the reserve warden up at RSPB South Stack. Having already spoken to Ken, he knew that I was (unfortunately) working down the other end of the island and would not be able to dash for a chance to see a passing Black-Browed Albatross. I don’t think you need to be in ‘birding’ circles to appreciate quite what a bird an albatross is, famed throughout the world because of their enormous wingspan, longevity, loyalty and a symbol of hope lost to sailors in the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’.

It is becoming a trend that phenomenal things are sighted from South Stack when I am down in Menai Bridge. Almost this time last year Ken watched as a pod of Orca made their way northwards past the stack. I had been living on the reserve at the time and disappointingly found myself receiving Ken’s excited call as I walked along the High Street of Menai Bridge, past the Indian take-aways, bakery and coffee shops, miles from the spectacle outside my own bedroom window. In an annoying repetition of history, I was walking in exactly the same place yesterday when I received Dave’s call about the probable Albatross.

Unfortunately, neither I nor Ken (conveniently sea-watching from exactly the right place) managed to see an Albatross, Black-Browed or otherwise. However the texts and twitter speculation soon spread (like wildfire, or perhaps the common cold).

The birding world is well-connected these days; the bird lines and alerts have evolved, are well used and form the ornithological backbone of Britain. With the advent of social media (particularly twitter) and smart phones sightings can be seen by followers all of the world in a matter of seconds. It is fascinating (and also scary) to think that an hour after this “possible Black-Browed Albatross” sighting, it had been coupled with an unconfirmed sighted of the same species from the Isle of Man the previous day and that it was stated that it was now likely that this was an individual that used to visit the Scottish Island of Sula Sgeir. Perhaps is it. Perhaps one or both of these possibles was a definite? And perhaps this Albatross is visiting the North Atlantic rock of Sula Sgeir. And perhaps this is the same individual that has been sighted there before.

Black-Browed Albatross, should after all be breeding on the other side of the world. The likelihood of multiple birds travelling up the Irish Sea is small, but there has often been speculation about the number that may be taking refuge on our remote islands. Who knows?! I certainly don’t and without politely asking Mister Albatross to explain himself I think I’m unlikely to find out.

It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that this Albatross has in fact being visiting Scotland since 1967 when an Albatross was recorded on Bass Rock amongst the Gannets. After this date there were various sightings at various Scottish locations (Gannets close at hand). Indeed, our very own Ken Croft saw his one and only Black-Browed Albatross from South Stack Reserve back in 2005. It is thought that this is the individual that was then known to reside on Sula Sgeir, but perhaps not. Perhaps we have multiple long-distance visitors that despite their grand proportions slip unnoticed to the remote islands of Scotland.

Fascinating as their story may be, I think there is an allure in the unknown. Part of me hopes that they go on avoiding our gaze, seeking solace in our still wild places.

Kathy X

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Helvellyn Triathlon

My last post was all about ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’. The week was all about enthusing people about our surrounding sea and through the varied and interesting range of events I am happy that we succeeded. Different local businesses and charities were involved, all benefiting from extra exposure and some from monetary donations. I can now add to that by letting you know how much money we raised for the Marine Conservation Society. Anglesey Wildlife Walks contributed 50% of the ticket price of the Heathland and Seals guided walk; Glyn Davies donated 20% of the ticket price of his talk “Welsh Light”; Carol Mead had a donations box in her studio (where she is a personal trainer) and also gave up her time for free with a seaside poetry workshop where she collected £4 per child towards the cause; Laura (who runs Ann’s Pantry in Moelfre) very kindly baked some delicious madeleines and donated 20% of the price of those sold. In total these guys raised a brilliant £99 which is now winging it’s way over to the Marine Conservation Society. I was also able to add gift aid to that donation, increasing the money to £123.75. Good old gift aid!

Everyone that attended an event should have had the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win ‘A Field Guide to the Marine Fishes of Wales and Adjacent Waters’ donated by the Marine Conservation Society to celebrate the eight days of  ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’. Using the time honoured method of closing your eyes and delving around with your hand, the name we conjured up at random is Steve Lawson who joined us on Outdoor Active‘s exhilarating coasteering session. I hope Steve and his family enjoy this beautiful book.

Since ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’ I have been lucky enough to take a trip to the beautiful Lake District and, rather fortunately, during perhaps the best weather of the year so far! Get in! I had gone along to Ambleside as a spectator to the Helvellyn Triathlon where around 700 crazy people decided to swim 1 mile though the seemingly black Ullswater, cycle 38 miles on the road (including up the aptly named ‘struggle’) and run 9 miles over the 3118 feet of Helvellyn. In my book, anyone that completes that deserves an Olympic medal.

At these events being a birder really comes into it’s own; everyone struggles to make out their loved ones in the sea of lycra and rubber and I stand there smugly with my all-seeing bino-vision. Having watched the swim and the seething mass of shiny wetsuits and blue caps in the first wave I headed off up Helvellyn; the place of legends.

I don’t know why I hadn’t gone with her; but one weekend perhaps sixteen years ago my Mum went on a Helvellyn adventure. Teamed up with a climbing instructor and a bunch of kids she set out to the summit of Helvellyn via Striding Edge; the name alone conjures fearful images in my mind. On many occasions my Mum has recounted the tale of how the children skipped along the rocky ridge whilst she clung to the ground sobbing with a steep drop to her right and and certain death to her left.

The mist was rolling in over the top of Helvellyn as I approached and this gave me reason to think about approach from a different angle, missing out the infamous Striding Edge. Down where I was at that moment, the sun was baking me and I stopped to drink and asked a couple that I’d caught up with if they’d like a photo together (I figure if I do this enough times people will also randomly ask me and my friends and family on other occasions where a group photo is absolutely neccessary!). The couple turned out to be Jill and Ken who’s son Chris was competing in the triathlon. We kept the same pace and I hope they don’t mind that we chatted all the way up to the point where the paths diverged and it was either straight up the mountain or via Striding Edge (dum, dum, duuummmm!).

Retelling my Mum’s story to the pair fired Kens memories of a long forgotten trip over striding edge and from then on he was set on joining me on that rather unwelcoming, misty knife-edge.

I did my best crab impression on the very top of the ridge at times, but to be quite honest the mist had cleared and I could do nothing but admire the stunning view and think of my lovely Mum with her ‘being-at-height issues’ and enjoy the moment for her. Jill bounded on ahead despite saying she wouldn’t look down.

The worst bit for me was a scramble up some crumbling scree before we reached the safety of the summit. I like a rock you can trust.

Here is Ken and Jill at the summit:

I had a brief moment of false-joy when I was privileged to be in the lead of all the runners as two headed up the second rise of their run (White Side). These first two powered past me with unbelievable speed and were fifteen minutes ahead of their nearest competitors.

My seemingy slow descent allowed be to say “Well done” to the first 138 runners before I reached the bottom, equally sweaty and exhausted as the triatheletes embarrassingly. Ken and Jill’s son Chris came a very respectable 28th. I think everyone that took part was completely amazing though. To add insult to injury whilst those triatheletes were probably skipping over a mountain or two I was greeted my two red and swollen knees the following day. Oh dear.

Knees now fully recovered, I am back in North Wales and inviting you to join in with a beach clean I am organising at Porth Dafarch on Holy Island (Anglesey) on Monday 17th September. It will start at 3:30pm and is part of the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Big Beachwatch Weekend’. I adopted this beach last year and had a great team of helpers turn up. Would you like to help this time? For more info please email: Kathy@naturebites.co.uk Hope you can make it!

Kathy x

A Big Thank You!!

What a week?!

It exhausted me, but ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’ is now over. It took two whole days off nothingness to help me recuperate (the first bank holiday I’ve not worked since goodness knows when), however it was all worth it!

The whole idea was to create a week of events to enthuse people about the sea and we definitely succeeded. It may have been my brainchild, but it could not have gone ahead without the hard work of the event organisers and volunteers which gave up their time.

I am happy with where we’re at; a marine week that Anglesey can be proud of, build upon and enjoy! There are learning points for next years event, of course, but with the basics now laid out the island can take hold of the event if it wishes and run away with imaginative ideas for inspiring people in 2013. Good luck Mon Mam Cymru!

All, but one, events were attended and I would like to thank Elgan Hearn from the Holyhead & Anglesey Mail for his part in that. I was surprised at the recognition I got from having my snorkel-clad face in the local paper!

We had the rain to thank for the poorly attended ‘Spot the Dolphin’ which was such a shame as we were perhaps on the best place on the island that day. Tucked below the lighthouse at Point Lynas we saw porpoise feeding throughout the two hours. To  my delight I spotted a mother with calf breaching the surface, with their seeming singular body and double dorsal fin. A special moment thanks to Emily and Lauren from Seawatch Foundation.

The week was kicked off at Moelfre Lifeboat Day where I was astounded by the feat of organisation by the commitee; a real triumph and  a regular date in the diaries of regular visitors and islanders alike. Emily and Lauren from the ‘Spot the Dolphin’ event held a stall in the Seawatch Centre and chatted to people about cetaceans as well as the work of the Marine Conservation Society – thank you ladies! Also, thanks to Rod, Mandy and all the other commitee members that organised Moelfre Lifeboat Day on the whole.

The weather was on our side for most of the week (unlikely as that seems!) with Sunday getting off to a drizzley start. Nonetheless, Caroline from Anglesey Wildlife Walks entertained us out on ‘the range’ (or Penrhosfeilw Common). Although we didn’t see any seals we heard about many of the medicinal uses of the plants that although beautiful can be so easily overlooked.

On Monday I headed back to Cemlyn where I had spent the summer as a tern warden for the North Wales Wildlife Trust. This time I joined in with a trust of the national variety as we ripped out an old kissing gate and replaced it with a shiny new one. Surprisingly, although the original gate was seemingly fine, it was not wide enough for our new physiques… the guys from the National Trust cheerily advised me that there we many more that needed replacing should I fancy it.

The seawatch at RSPB South Stack was rather lacking on the ol’ bird front, but that’s just the way of the world. It was a beautiful evening enjoyed by quite a crowd as we explored the heath in full bloom the last remaining chick on the sea cliffs, a chubby fulmar. This was also the first event at which we were joined by Alison who had come to North Wales specifically to join in with Anglesey Marine Week festivities.

On Tuesday, I missed out on a guided walk at Cemlyn by the Friends of Anglesey Coastal Path. Chris managed to make it though and he text me to say ” Lovely walk around Cemlyn Bay today. Nice pace, good company”, I was pleased. Chris really made the most of Anglesey Marine Week attending eight of the weeks events!

The next event was a guided walk of Newborough Warren by Graham Williams, the CCW reserves manager. We were all flabbergasted by Graham’s knowledge; he showed us the intricate relationships between the plant species, insects, mammals and birds as well as throwing in a bit of social history for good measure. When we stopped for lunch, Chris had to remind us to let Graham eat as we continued to bombard him with questions!

Whilst I was being windswept on Newborough Warren, the National Trust were at it again at Cemlyn Bay with a fully booked driftwood carving session… photos welcome guys…?!

Wednesday was a very hectic day with drama coming from Dave from Outdoor Active (the coasteering provider). Dave had very kindly agreed to collect the extra chairs needed for Glyn Davies’ talk later that evening. In the meantime however he managed to slip and stab himself in the hand with a knife! Ouch! Dave was in the capable hands of Bangor A&E department and I needed to find some chairs now that our original supplier was shut. So huge thanks to Nigel Brown of Treborth Botanical Gardens for his help in keeping us sat down for “Welsh Light” in Glyn’s gallery.

“Welsh Light” came at the end of a very busy day and was the perfect antidote. We admired Glyn’s stunning landscapes and were transported by his poetic descriptions. Glyn is a captivating speaker and I gained a brilliant understanding of his motivations which are much more complex than merely to take a pretty picture. His emotional connection with the sea, for me, summed up the importance of Anglesey Marine Week; our unspoilt world is food for the soul.

Despite having joined the Friends of Anglesey Coast Path down at Malltraeth Estuary on Thursday morning, I spent almost the entire time with Adam and Jeremy from BBC Radio Wales (sorry guys!!). The ‘friends’ diligently picked up litter and kept the coast path accessible whilst I chatted about Anglesey Marine Week and our brilliant coast for the weekly programme ‘Science Cafe’. Until Tues 4th September you can listen to the episode here – Science Cafe Seaside Special.

The weather forecast for Friday was terrible, but instead of heavy downpours I was greeted at Cemlyn by red hot sunshine and the smiley faces of Nia and Ben from the North Wales Wildlife Trust. Here we undertook everyone’s favourite seashore past-time, rockpooling! We produced a great haul! I was particularly excited to find a sandeel and felt that this was my most advanced qualification yet to work with seabirds 🙂 Hat’s off to the youngsters though as they really did us proud! Our specimen trays were full to the brim with sticklebacks, blennys, shrimp, crabs and the most gigantic prawns!

Last Saturday I was joined by my friend Anna for the weekend and she and I went along to Carol Mead’s childrens’ poetry workshop down in Llys Llewelyn, Aberffraw. The info had said for 6-11yr olds, we were all engrossed! Carol read from her award-winning book ‘Sea Things’ and we joined in, wobbling like a wibble-wobble-ish Jellyfish! It was particularly pleasing that a young chap inspired by his rockpooling with the Wildlife Trust the day before had come along to express himself through this medium. Having too much fun, we ran over time and Anna and I dashed off to join in with the last event of the week up at Porth Dafarch.

As mentioned before, Dave from Outdoor Active had managed to stab his own hand and spent Saturday having surgery in a Liverpool hospital and so was unable to jump off cliffs with us! In his place, the lovely Geraint lead us round the stunning coast left out of Porth Dafarch. Our group was diverse, aged 10-60 and with varying levels of ability and bravery. We swam, scrambled, climbed and jumped our way along the course for two hours. I was very happy scrambling around the rocks, but my legs turned to jelly (like the wibble-wobble-ish Jellyfish) when I had to jump in. I was completely put to shame by ten year old Grace who showed us all how to do it. With out a doubt she was the most fearless participant and I wish could have captured the look of disappointment on her face when we turned to head home.

So that was it. Anglesey Marine Week over.

The feedback I’ve had from everyone that’s joined in has been great and if you are, I’m definitely on for next year?!

A massive thank you to everyone that gets a mention in this post and also Laura from Ann’s Pantry, Hayley from RSPB South Stack, Ann and Angus from the Friends of Anglesey Coastal Path, Gwynfor and Bryn from the National Trust, Ken Croft & David Wright for their time volunteering at the South Stack seawatch, Jon Pinnington (North Wales Tourist Guide), Steffan Hughes from the Anglesey County Council Tourism Department, Danielle Gibas from Seawatch Foundation, Gareth Owen from Keep Wales Tidy and Rebecca O’Dowd from the Marine Conservation Society.

Thank you to everyone who made Anglesey Marine Week a success!

Kathy x

The view from the top.

My head is a whirlwind at the moment, we are writing the end of year report at Cemlyn, I am busy organising ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’ and I am trying to sort out my future employment. Sometimes, we just need a break don’t we?! In order to get away from it all, I thought dangling from a steep rock face would do it.

For all you non-climbers (such as myself) out there, I’d like to go through so climbing terminology with you. Climbs are graded; according to their technical difficulty and how protected they are (as in how many places you can attach yourself to the rock with a big sigh of relief!). I get the impression that anyone who climbs looks straight to the grades that I am not even going to mention…beneath those, however you have climbs rated moderate, difficult ‘diff’ and very difficult ‘v.diff’. A note on this terminology: these descriptions were coined by the pioneers of modern-day climbing way back when and refer to the severity of the climb as it would have been at the turn of the last century (without today’s knowledge and fancy gadgetry). However, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that ‘diff’ means this climb is going to be difficult, shortening the word isn’t going to fool me! If people who were bona-fide climbers back in the day thought it was difficult then I won’t be so bold as to think that a novice like me can waltz up there (no matter what you climber types tell me!).

Yesterday’s adventure took me, in very capable hands, to Glyder Fawr in the Snowdonia National Park looking over the stunning Llyn Idwal and Ogwen Valley. We were going to climb a route called the Cneifion Arete. According to the guide books, this is a ‘moderate’ climb or a top-grade scramble (i.e. the full ropes and harness set up is not needed). It was around a 45 minute walk from the already high up Ogwen Cottage to the foot of the “scramble” and from here the arete (a thin ridge of rock) headed vertically away from me to a jagged ridge curving left high above my head (140m above my head to be precise). The nature of the climb meant that I would use all my might to meet my guide at a belay point (a place of anchorage) and he would toddle off ahead on the next pitch like he was hopping over a style in a grassy meadow! It was at these points where the pleasure of the experience was most intense. Firstly, I made it. One hurdle down. Secondly, a rest for my weak arms and legs. Thirdly, a Raven calling (below me!) swirling around in the air; king of the mountains. Finally, the excitement of my next part of the challenge as the “safe” call beckoned me upwards.

I look quite happy in the photo… If you had a true series of events unfolding in pictures before you, it would be something quite different. I noticed that I bite my bottom lip a lot, as if that is somehow going to magically propel me upwards and I make some great tennis-playing noises as I commit to grab a hold above me.

After all the playful moaning about what an ordeal I was having, for the most part I felt a fantastic sense of achievement and was able to admire a staggering view from an aspect I would not normally have been able to visit.

Oh and my biggest inspiration to reach the top…dinner! It’s amazing how hungry you get clinging to the side of a rock!

Kathy xxx

Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon

From August 18th-25th, naturebites is pleased to present ‘Anglesey Marine Week/ Wythnos Morol Mon’; a week of events to enthuse you about Anglesey’s surrounding marine environment.

Listed below is the current timetable of events, please scroll right down as events are taking place every day and I don’t want you to miss out!

Saturday 18th August

Moelfre Lifeboat Day 10am-9pm

  • Through naturebites I have arranged for the Marine Conservation Society to hold a stall at this event, so please pop and say hi and also find out more about the conservation of our precious seas.

Sunday 19th August

Heathland and Seals 10:30am-12:30pm

  • Take a leisurely walk around the range (Penrhosfeilw common near South Stack) and find out more about the rare maritime heathland in full flower. Watch for seal activity off the headland and look for Gannets and other passing seabirds. Learn some of the names of the wildlife in Welsh and about some of the traditional uses of the coastal and heathland plants.
  • This event has been organised by Anglesey Wildlife Walks for ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’. The event costs £4 for adults/£2 for children with 50% of this being donated to the Marine Conservation Society.
  • Places are limited so please contact Kathy from naturebites to book. Email: naturebites.wordpress@gmail.com or call 07790431078.

Spot the Dolphin! 12:00-14:00pm

  • Join Sea Watch Foundation for a land-based watch looking for dolphins and porpoise and maybe (fingers crossed) whales!
  • £2 adults, children and dogs free!
  • Meet at the village car park in Llaneilian.

Monday 20th August

Coast Path Volunteer Afternoon 12:30pm-3:30pm

  • Join the National Trust at Cemlyn Bay for an afternoon of coast path repair. Volunteers are a vital part of the National Trust team on Anglesey; learn new skills whilst also helping to maintain our fabulous Anglesey coast path.
  • This event is FREE.
  • Please wear sensible shoes for working outdoors and meet at the Bryn Aber car park (the west one past the house with the big wall).

Seawatch at South Stack 5:30pm-7:00pm

  • Come along to RSPB South Stack for a real treat, looking out to sea for Gannets, Shearwaters, Scoters, Porpoise and Dolphins.   Speak to our friendly and knowledgeable staff about the wildlife on the reserve, see what you can spot and drop in to use our telescopes and binoculars and view footage of the breeding seabirds from earlier in the season.
  • This event costs £2 for adults/£1 for children and is FREE for RSPB members.
  • Please contact the RSPB at South Stack to reserve your place on: south.stack@rspb.org.uk or (01407) 762100

Tuesday 21st August

Tour of Cemlyn Bay 11am

  • This guided walk is straight forward; cliff top, beach, quiet lanes, and a lovely old church makes it worth a visit.  There’s also a brackish lagoon with a variety of bird life, so we may sneak in a little bird-watching as well.
  • This FREE event is brought to you during ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythos Morol Mon’. The Friends of Anglesey Coast Path ask you to ensure you wear  walking boots and clothes suitable for the day’s weather and suggest bringing some food and drink for lunch en route.
  • Meet 11am at Cemlyn West car park (grid ref: SH32993, sat nav: N 53º41’24” W 4º51’56”). Contact Angus for more details on: (01248) 713338.

Wednesday 22nd August

An Introduction to Newborough Warren; it’s wildlife and social history 10:30am-2:30pm

  • Newborough Warren & Ynys Llanddwyn National Nature Reserve is one of our most spectacular and important sand dune systems. On this walk, led by the CCW Senior Reserve Manager, you will discover how the sand dune system and its plants and animals have evolved through constant change and the impact of man, and what is being done today to manage and protect it.
  • This event is FREE.
  • Please wear sensible footwear for walking and clothing suitable for the weather. Graham will include a stop for lunch so please pack some food!
  • Meet at the CCW car park at Llyn Rhos Ddu (GR SH 426617).

Driftwood Carving 1pm-3pm

  • The National Trust would like to pass on their carpentry skills by asking you to join in with driftwood carving at their Anglesey workshop at Cemlyn Bay.
  • This event is FREE.
  • Places may be limited so please call (01407) 711178 to book your place.

“Welsh Light” 7:30pm

  • Multi-award winning landscape photographer and gallery director, Glyn Davies, invites you to a talk and discussion surrounding his latest book “Welsh Light”.
  • In this session, Glyn will read extracts from his new book, and also talk about why he finds landscape and the sea, so important, not just as the subject for artistic photography, but for his life and well-being.
  • Glyn is keen to progress the talk towards an interactive discussion, about the ways in which the coast benefits us all, and why & how we should be doing our best to preserve it’s natural beauty. Can photographic imagery help in that aim?
  • Tickets cost £10 and Glyn will be donating 20% of the cost of each ticket to the Marine Conservation Society. Books will be available for sale at the talk and a donation from any sales at the event will be made to the Marine Conservation Society.
  • Booking is essential. Please contact Kathy from naturebites on: 07790431078 or email: naturebites.wordpress@gmail.com.

Thursday 23rd August

Coastal Enhancement Volunteer Morning 10am-12 noon

  • The Friends of Anglesey Coast Path have won two national prizes for their coastal enhancement this year and would like to invite you along to join in and see just how they do this!
  • This event is FREE.
  • Please wear sensible footwear and clothing and meet at Malltraeth village car park (grid ref: SH407686, sat nav N53°11’26″W4°23’09”). Contact Ann for more details on: (01407) 730577 or John on: (01248) 712793.

Wrecks & Rogues 10:30am-4:30pm

  • The North Wales Tourist Guiding Association in conjunction with Menter Mon bring you a coastal tour and coach trip with stories of maritime history and Anglesey’s wild coast, led throughout by a qualified guide.
  • The coach departs from Oriel Ynys Mon in Llangefni at 10:30am and returns at 4:30pm. The trip includes a coastal walk to visit the wreck site of the Royal Charter, with total walking time around 1 hour 10 minutes.
  • The tour costs £20 for adults, £18 for 60+, £10 for children (4+) and £50 for a family of two adults and up to four children. Please see the North Wales Tourism website for details of how to book.
  • As part of ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’, naturebites has arranged for tour participants to receive educational goody bags from the Marine Conservation Society.

Friday 24th August

Seashore Safari 10am-12noon

  • The North Wales Wildlife Trust are offering their expertise, showing you around the magical world of the seashore at Cemlyn Bay.
  • This event is for all ages! Be inspired by the purple Velvet Swimming Crab, the flower-like Dahlia Anemone and the hidden Five-bearded Rockling.
  • Have fun! Root around the shoreline, see what you find and ask the experts if you need some help.
  • This event is FREE!
  • There’s no need to book. Park at Bryn Aber car park (the west one past the house with the huge wall), walk away from the house towards the open sea and join Ben and Nia from the North Wales Wildlife Trust down on the beach.

Saturday 25th August

Children’s Seaside Poetry Workshop 9:30am-11:30am

  • An open public event inviting children aged 6-11 (accompanied by adults) to explore the coast using poetry.
  • Carol Mead is a poet and author of the award-winning “Sea Things“, a collection of poems about our relationship with the sea.
  • The event is set indoors at Llys Llewellyn, Aberffraw, because of the good ole Welsh weather with the opportunity to go outdoors if sunny!
  • Carol is not charging for this event, but is asking for a £3 donation per child which will go to the Marine Conservation Society.

Coasteering 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm

  • Local outdoor sports provider Outdoor Active are offering a MASSIVE DISCOUNT on their coasteering sessions to offer you the chance to get involved and explore our coastline is a fun and interesting way.
  • Coasteering involves swimming, jumping and scrambling around the coast. Find out more on their website and then join in for just £10 a person (usually £40!).
  • In addition to the huge discount, Outdoor Active are going to donate 10% of each session fee to the Marine Conservation Society.
  • Places are limited so please book by contacting Dave from Outdoor Active on: 07971562512 or email: outdooractivesports@gmail.com.

There are still more events to be added to the programme so watch this space!

If you wish to be involved in ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’ either as an event organiser or as a participant then please contact naturebites author, Kathy, on: naturebites.wordpress@gmail.com or call 07790431078.

I hope you can take part in one or a series of these fantastic events that make up ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’.

Thanks in advance for getting involved,

Kathy x

What a difference a day makes!?

What a pleasure it is to be alive these brief sunny July days! The sunshine certainly makes things seem better (especially after having had so little!). Cemlyn shows it’s softer side when the wind drops and the sun bounces off the water. Something like the St Ives effect… I’ve heard it said that artists are drawn to St Ives (in Cornwall) because it is surrounded by the sea and consequently the light is reflected in great quantity. Having spent a lot of time there when my Mum lived there, I am certainly under it’s spell.

Last week I was especially lucky to spend my day off in the sun. Simple pleasures like wearing flip-flops and no coat, sitting outside of a cafe and actually feeling warm, these things help to content me. I have to add that Laura’s delicious Butternut Squash soup and a refreshing Elderflower presse helped also. Laura is the hands-on owner of Ann’s Pantry in Moelfre (which I can highly recommend!). It’s a gorgeous little place with scrummy food and with a garden for days like these (can’t help but think of the Van Morrison song).

I was visiting this part of Anglesey to go kayaking. And what a brilliant time I had!? Pictured above is Ynys Moelfre, affectionately known as Rat Island too! Rats didn’t appear to be much of a problem for the birds that had evidently bred there though… Shags, Cormorants, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and as I travelled through Y Swnt (the channel between the small island and the village of Moelfre) the eponymous “Kittiwake” call rattled through my ears. I had been told that Kittiwakes are named after their call, but I had never actually had the realisation that this is so phonetic until I passed by that island serenaded with “Kittiwake, Kittiwake”. I was taken aback and grinned like an idiot! An awesome sound and a pleasure to witness.

And finally…I am pleased to announce that I have arranged ‘Anglesey Marine Week’; a week of events in August to celebrate the wonderful marine environment that surrounds Anglesey. From August 18th-25th, these events will be open to all; local residents and tourists alike, aiming to enthuse about what our seas have to offer. I am liasing with the participating organisations and businesses to put the finishing touches to the timetable before I share the details with you. In the meantime, I am so excited at the prospect of all the inspiring events and hope that you’ll be able to join me at one or maybe more of the events on offer 🙂

Here’s to more sunny days by the sea!
Kathy x

Drip, drip, drop little July showers…

Accept for some fleeting respite, June passed by in a flurry of wind and rain. There were glimpses of a forgotten June long ago, but for the most part I was wet.

Spending a lot of my time outdoors with wet feet (I really need to invest in some new shoes), my day off this week was spent with my dear friend Sam taking in one of Anglesey’s finest indoor tourist attractions…the Sea Zoo. We were captivated by the first room with it’s remnants of the old Bangor Pier and comical flatfish and went from tank to tank in wonder. Part way round we bumped into Matt, an aquarist at there, who had also studied at Leeds University like myself. We knew each other from the Zoology circles and he very kindly offered to show us around. It was insightful to hear about the breeding programmes conducted there, something that I was unaware of and certainly could have missed whilst wandering around gawping into the glass. Notable projects exist for the Short-snouted Seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus) and the Common European Lobster (Homarus Gammarus). I was pleased to see that not only was the Anglesey Sea Zoo somewhere fun to visit, but also that it took part in vital conservation work that directly affects the Welsh seas.

I was particularly captivated by the Conger Eels. My Dad won’t be surprised to hear that. The reason that I visited this part of the world so frequently as a child was because my Dad would come here to go sea fishing. We spent many a night out in the dark on the edge of the Menai Straits in the pursuit of these monsters of the deep. I have always been a sea-baby, with a mutual love and fear of the sea. My Dad and my brother Steven would find it hilarious to wait until I was submerged and then shout “Conger-Bonger!”. It worked every time and I’d run out straight away and be disappointed that I could now not enjoy that bit of sea for fear that my toes would be nibbled off by an imaginary Conger Eel.

I remembered the Sea Zoo display from my time spent there as a child and was fascinated to hear that Congers breed just the once and are effectively dying from the moment they are ready to breed. The impact of this on the Congers in the collection being that they have the same natural urge to reproduce as wild eels (after all they were collected from the surrounding waters). The staff at the Sea Zoo are trained to recognise when this is taking effect and make sure that the eel is able to continue with it’s natural migration to the Sargasso Sea to breed and then die. Phenomenal!

Next, Sam and I did something new to us both… we took a trip to Puffin Island (Ynys Seiriol). The rain was lashing down and the cloud covered the Carneddau range which you can normally see from the Beaumaris starting point. Nevertheless, we boarded the boat, The Island Princess, in our waterproof gear and had tissues at the ready to keep our binoculars useable. It was amusing to think of how one might have envisaged this trip a few months ago, a sunny July afternoon, sun tan lotion at the ready, shorts, a cocktail or two. Regardless of the weather we loved it! We had close-ups of Black Guillemot (Anglesey being their most Southerly breeding ground), Razorbill, Guillmot, Puffin, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Gulls galore. I even heard a Wren singing on the island which sounded pretty incongruous whilst sat on a boat.

Back on ‘dry’ land Sam admired the wet patch on my trousers where an unfortunate “water-proof'” trouser malfunction had left it’s mark.

A brilliantly fun rainy day with Sam.

Kathy x

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