There is really only one thing that I need to go outdoors and observe wildlife to the extent that I do; binoculars. At different points through the year I might be clad in shorts and flip-flops or layer upon layer to fight off those impressive Anglesey winds, but to really see the magic of a tiny Goldcrest or a far away Godwit I need a little magnification!
Whilst working at Cemlyn Bay this summer, I briefly met a lady called Lucy (working as part of a team to promote young conservationists) and as any diligent blogger would I quickly dashed off as I was on my way to a scoop; namely kayaker John Willacy had just arrived back from circumnavigating Britain in his boat.
After filming John’s return (still to this day I have not shared the footage, as my blog will not upload it) I found out more about the programme that Lucy is a part of. ‘A Focus on Nature’ (AFON) is an organisation to “open eyes…minds…and imagination” of young conservationists and to nurture their career in this field. The panel, consisting of Stephen Moss (nature writer, broadcaster and BAFTA award-winning television producer, notably the original producer of Springwatch and producer of Big Cat Diary), Pete Gamby (dynamic sales and marketing manager for Opticron), Dr Rob Lambert (Environmental Historian from Nottingham University and one of the most interesting folk you’ll ever meet) and of course Lucy (McRobert), an Environmental History graduate and nature writer.
This inspiring team of visionaries have developed the idea of AFON and now offer youngsters setting out in a career of conservation the chance to develop their field skills with a pair of binoculars (an often very expensive and yet essential edition to someone’s kit). Although this an opportunity for many, the candidates do have to compete for their optics; showing their passion for conservation through nature-writing, photography and more.
It may have been that I decided to write about AFON in a desperate plea for their assistance, luckily this is not the case. Having submitted work from this very blog, the panel have selected me as one of the recipients of their award. Amazing! Thank you.
It may be apparent from my posts and photographs that I have benefited from use of binoculars throughout, these weren’t mine though. The adorable Ken Croft, my birding mentor and friend, used to lend me his super-duper binoculars and forfeit his own sightings (a difficult thing for a birder to do, believe me) and latterly he lent me an old pair of binoculars to see me through my contract with the Wildlife Trust at Cemlyn Bay. Massive thanks to Ken for his kindness and generosity here.
So yes, this AFON prize of Opticron binoculars is very relevant and not wasted on somebody who won’t benefit; I am very excited and will cherish this prize! I have so many plans for the future and for my career and these binoculars will kick-start me on my way. Wahoo!
You can check out other winning entries and even apply for yourself here. This scheme is set up to help, so please don’t be intimidated. The panel want to encourage you, so apply and see how you get on! For those that won’t be applying, I’d still check out the site as I expect that we’ll hear more from these names in the future and you’ll meet them there first!
Kathy x (eagerly anticipating her new binoculars!!)
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
- A whole day jam-packed with tours, music, displays, stalls and general fun! Please see the Moelfre Lifeboat Day website for more details.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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,