• Cameras, Computers, Cardboard and Carpenters

    When those incredible engineers and artisans built the dam that created Lake Vyrnwy what we now regard as everyday technology had not even been dreamed of. Back then phones were limited to the very few, cameras were for specialists, moving pictures and computers were still to be invented, but they have all been involved with our volunteers over the past couple of weeks.

    Bethan has spent two weeks at Lake Vyrnwy volunteering…

    • 12 Feb 2019
  • Purple Review

    A new year can bring many new things, but one guarantee is that the weather is still unpredictable. On Sunday, I decided to take a walk along the Purple Trail to both stretch my legs and see what is out and about at the moment. A sunny afternoon was forecast so I didn’t arrive until after lunch, and there was a glimmer of sunshine as I drove around the lake in the form of a rainbow over a rough, choppy lake.

    Stormy…

    • 17 Jan 2019
  • Winter Solstice

    Here’s a little bit I found online about the winter solstice.

    "Our ancient ancestors celebrated Yule, and when Christianity was introduced the church opted for this time of year to celebrate Christmas, with many of the Yule traditions and practices absorbed into Christmas festivities. We can hear echoes of pagan songs in Christmas carols, and just like our ancestors we light candles and fires, decorate our homes…

    • 20 Dec 2018
  • A Walk on the Wet Side

    Rhiwargor waterfall on 2nd December by Gavin Chambers

    The last week has been a rollercoaster of weather, starting with strong winds from Storm Diana, persistent rain over the weekend and now to a week of up and down temperatures from zero degrees to 10+ degrees but very little sunshine. Being raised in Scotland, I would class the past week as rather dreich.

    However, rain isn’t all bad as Jampa wrote about in a recent…

    • 6 Dec 2018
  • A New Beginning

    New Beginning

    I could have started this blog with a note about people leaving Vyrnwy, but that sounds a bit sad, so instead I want to mention a new beginning.

    Sue joined the Vyrnwy team as a long-term volunteer intern. Below you can read how Sue spent her time with us. I did ask her a while back why she joined as an intern, her response was to gain experience hopefully leading to a job in conservation – a career change…

    • 21 Nov 2018
  • Through the Seasons

    Seasons in Lake Vyrnwy can be magical if you’re lucky. Look at Vyrnwy through the eyes of an assistant warden, these are all my photos (Gethin Elias) click on them to enlarge.
    Lake Vyrnwy is a beautiful place to work. There are many different landscapes to see in a place where the weather changes daily.

    Hidden corners, places yet to be discovered or the same view in different weather.

    A perfect winter’s day in…

    • 15 Nov 2018
  • The Dreaded C word...

    ... yes it's almost Christmas!

    I’m sure Christmas has started to appear on everyone’s radar now we’re into November but it’s been on mine since July when we took delivery of our Christmas cards, diaries and calendars ready for the Royal Welsh Show and our loyal supporters! We’re now knee deep in Christmas here at Lake Vyrnwy preparing for Christmas fairs, local group talks and much more. Each year Shropshire RSPB…

    • 8 Nov 2018
  • Touch of Frost

    With Autumn in full swing now, we have also had a touch of winter in the last week. The first snow appeared on the mountain tops last weekend end and we have experienced sub-zero temperatures and hard frosts. It may be cold but it has also been clear and sunny producing some stunning mornings over the lake.

    Lake Vyrnwy (by Gavin Chambers)

    This change in weather has brought a few of our winter migrants back from Scandinavia…

    • 1 Nov 2018
  • Many Colours

    Beech (photo by Gethin Elias)

    Why do leaves turn colour? The spectacle of green leaves turning rich reds and yellows in autumn happens when trees have taken all the food they can from the leaves that are filled with chlorophyll – the biomolecule that absorbs energy from sunlight and gives leaves their green colour. When sunlight wanes and leaves stop making food, this green pigment is broken down into colourless compounds…

    • 18 Oct 2018
  • Who's coming and going?

    With summer now appearing to be fading in to the past, Autumn has really taken over with autumnal colours now splashed across the countryside and the weather turning far more ‘autumnal’. Storm Callum is about to be the third storm to hit the UK giving the impression we might be in for a stormy season. This is the season of change and that is very true for wildlife.

    Bird migration is in full swing with birds…

    • 12 Oct 2018
  • A volunteer for all seasons!

    Residential volunteers at Lake Vyrnwy can stay in the volunteer accommodation bungalows. In each bungalow there is a log book which people can use to record what they have experienced during their stay. Some people record a brief summary, whilst others keep a more detailed diary. Last week I took the opportunity to read through the log and it struck me how many different tasks and skills volunteers have taken on at Lake…

    • 5 Oct 2018
  • Autumn

    As the seasons change and it gets wetter and colder, it’s easy to see why less of us venture out into nature. Lower light levels and cooler temperatures affect our mood and motivation. The temptation to snuggle up in front of a warm fire and enter a period of semi hibernation may be strong but it’s worth listening to arguments in favour of braving the elements and exploring the beauty of autumn.

    Three good…

    • 27 Sep 2018
  • Connecting with nature 1 step at a time……

    With summer almost officially over and autumn knocking on the door, I’ve been thinking about the perilous journeys all migratory birds have to make either back home or as they make their way here to us at Lake Vyrnwy for winter. One of my favourite spring/summer migrants has to be the pied flycatcher. They are small, flycatching birds, slightly smaller than a house sparrow. The male is mostly black on the upperparts and…

    • 20 Sep 2018
  • Hay Meadows

    Cyue Parc, photo by Gethin Elias

    I have grown up around Llanuwchllyn with not a meadow in site, yet I have found myself to have a passion for hay meadows. Is it because they are full of colour, that they sing a lulling hum on a perfect summers day, or that the smell of many species of flower reminds me of a perfect pot of honey.

    In the UK we have lost 98% of our wild flower meadows since the war, this fact is a good…

    • 13 Sep 2018
  • Vyrnwy Sightings and News

    Bird life has gone slightly quiet at the moment as they start moving around looking for food and in general have stopped singing. A walk through woodland at this time of year can be very peaceful and thought provoking allowing yourself to immerse into the surroundings, but around the corner you may suddenly come across a marauding flock of birds noisily moving through the area. Typically, these are mixed tit species flocks…

    • 7 Sep 2018
  • Cloud of Bats

    In the last week or so there has been a noticeable drop in temperature, which for certain species will be a trigger to start moving or increase their food intake to allow them to migrate. It’s a little early for species to start hibernating but no doubt some insects will start to think about it, especially if the temperatures remain as they are.

    On Saturday we held a bat and moth walk where we walked a short loop…

    • 31 Aug 2018
  • For the love of trees

    I thought I’d share a bit about my love of trees and some of the reasons why they are so amazing. They are an important feature of the reserve at Lake Vyrnwy and much more important to life on Earth than many people realise.

    Currently, we have around 3 trillion trees on Earth. This may seem a large number but this is less than half of the number which is estimated for 12,000 years ago. It is thought that there…

    • 28 Aug 2018
  • Whatever happened to the likely lads/lasses

    Lake Vyrnwy was been lucky to have some very talented and determined warden interns/long term volunteers. We thought it would be nice to review what has happened to some of them and how they have developed their careers in nature conservation.

    Let’s start with Adam whose current role is as assistant warden at RSPB Saltholme.

    Adam at work installing a Shelduck box at Saltholme

    I still have fond memories of being…

    • 20 Aug 2018
  • Hen Harrier Dance

    Now the monitoring season has come to an end, I find myself missing the dance of the hen harrier.

    Gadfa, RSPB Lake Vyrnwy (photo by Gethin Elias)

    It’s always hard to get people to understand what we do as work between March and early August. We sit for four hours monitoring moorland birds. The common answer to that is “anybody could do that, what’s the point?”

    It feels like a common thing…

    • 9 Aug 2018
  • Moth Deja-vu!

    The bird survey season has now in general come to an end with most birds having now fledged and started to wander further afield. Birds such as pied flycatcher seem to completely disappear once the chicks leave the nest though this is mainly due to their habit of moving into the tree tops to feed making them difficult to spot. However, redstarts are a bit showier and can be spotted by their flicking red tail as they dart…

    • 27 Jul 2018
  • Demystifying Shinrin-Yoku

    Since we started running forest bathing events at Lake Vyrnwy, I’ve been approached by a wide range of people who are curious or simply confused about forest bathing. So, I thought it was about time for a simple explanation of what we do, how it works and the debunking of a few misconceptions.

    Firstly, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WATER; no swimming, paddling or jumping in the reservoir, rivers or any other water…

    • 17 Jul 2018
  • June Safari

    Sometimes volunteers at the RSPB are also members, but it is rather special when you have a member who does volunteer work and helps organise a local members group. One such special person is June Jennings who has been volunteering and has been Treasurer of the Shropshire members group for 22 years.

    The Shropshire members group held their AGM last October (read more here). At this meeting Connie Sansom, Local Groups…

    • 28 Jun 2018
  • A Blooming Good Season

    A few weeks of warm dry weather has been followed by some murky drizzly conditions, though not forgetting the dramatic thunderstorms, which has provided good conditions for many species and habitats this summer.

    The timing has been very good for the productivity of box nesting birds, with a specific interest in the success of pied flycatchers. This year over 500 pied flycatcher chicks have been recorded from around 100…

    • 21 Jun 2018
  • Marvellous Moths

    On an evening walk with the children this last weekend, amongst the flurries and singing of the birds and the bubbling water of the stream, we spotted a beautiful elephant hawkmoth feeding on honeysuckle for nectar. My daughter immediately piped up ‘what a beautiful butterfly’ and was rather surprised when I told her it was in fact a moth. This got me thinking about how moths are generally perceived by people – brown…

    • 16 Jun 2018
  • Bino Blog

    Bino Blog

    We have a lot of conversations with visitors about binoculars and scopes in the RSPB shop and often find that some simple advice can make life so much simpler and bring nature up close in wonderful ways. So, I thought it might be useful to share a few tips and dispel a few myths in this week’s blog.

    Firstly, bigger is not always better!

    Optics come in a variety of magnifications. For binoculars, the…

    • 12 Jun 2018