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Amazing Autumn

Days getting shorter, nights getting longer, weather getting colder… so why is autumn so awesome? Well, we have beautiful crisp mornings with fog dancing over rivers and fields, trees are turning different shades of oranges and our hedgerows provide us with delicious fruit and nuts, and stars seem to shine brighter than ever. Here are my top tips for making the most of being outside this autumn.
Fungi — Autumn is the perfect time of year to go on the search for fungi. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and are much easier to spot than you may think. They can grow almost anywhere from woodlands to grasslands, and even in cow poo! (Just remember not to eat what you find without expert advice)
Birds — Not only are migrant birds such as waxwings, redwings and bramblings starting to arrive to spend the winter with us, but also our native birds begin to gather in large flocks. Long tailed tits for example can form flocks with other tit species to look for food and keep warm. Don’t forget to have a winter wander along the coast to see the wonderful flocks of coastal birds gathering to feed on the estuaries.
Conkers — Nothing reminds me of childhood more than going out for a walk in autumn looking for conkers. The hunt would be on to find the biggest, shiniest, hardest looking conker to play the classic game with all the other kids in the village. (I actually grew up near to the village that held the World Conker Championships!)
Deer rut — One of autumn’s most spectacular sights has to be the deer rut, as the males compete for females (who may only be in season for a day). The males can be heard and seen calling loudly and locking antlers, a truly awesome autumn sight!
Leaves — The leaves turning colour on the trees must be the most definitive signs of autumn, the colours look stunning on the trees and make wonderful photographs. A pile of autumn leaves also make great place for little creatures to hibernate in, so if you have room, make a space in your garden for hedgehogs and friends!
I love this time of year, and I still can’t resist kicking through piles of crispy leaves! We would love to see your autumn pictures from our reserves, please do email them to

Butterfly news

Surveying has now finished at Rhydymwyn for our butterflies, and it was a great year! Brian & Sue Roberts are volunteer surveyors from Butterfly Conservation, and master butterfly spotters:-

Rhydymwyn 2014
We took over recording on a full time basis at this site in week 18(Late July) of the 2011 season and continued in 2012, 2013 and now 2014.
The weather at the beginning of the butterfly season at Rhydymwyn in 2013 was not bad and a -3 week survey was a first for us.
In 2014 we recorded 25 species including 2 new species to the site late in the season.

There were so many highlights in 2014 with massive increases in ringlets, dingy skippers, meadow browns and gatekeepers. Compared with 2013 at this site the figures in 2014 for the average number of butterflies seen each visit showed a decrease over 2013 of 5.90%, this was due to more walks being undertaken in the year particularly when there were not many butterflies about. The increase in the total number of butterflies seen in 2014 as compared with 2013 was 8.96%

What is quite special is that following the really good year last year, taking the maximum number of each species seen in 2014 and comparing it with 2013, there has been an increase of over 23% – quite amazing.

The weather in 2014 started quite well and a very early survey started the year off well. The weather came good and then towards the end of the summer it became unsettles. However 2014 turned out to be a truly memorable year for the butterflies of this site with 12 Site Records and 2 new species being Grayling and Clouded Yellow of which two were seen.

The Whites this year were well down but increases by the species mentioned above more than counter-acted this drop and a record number of butterflies were recorded in 2014 as mentioned above.

12 Species created new Site Record Levels.
2 Species were new to the Site
3 Species were equal to the Site Record
8 Species reduced in number
Several species had spectacular counts dingy skippers-155, small skippers 369, ringlets 719, meadow brown 536, gatekeepers 466,in one memorable walk we recorded 1247 butterflies, altogether 2014 was staggeringly good for butterflies
The following increased in numbers:-
small, large and dingy skippers, red admiral, comma, speckled wood, gatekeeper, meadow brown, small heath, brimstone, ringlet and wall brown.
The following species declined:- large, small and green-veined whites, common blue, peacock, small tortoiseshell, orange tip and painted lady.
The following species attained the same number as last year: – small copper, purple hairstreak and holly blue.
The new species to the site were the long-awaited grayling and clouded yellow (of which a male and female were recorded)
We looked at quite a number of small skippers to try and find an Essex skipper, but we were not able to find one. The population of small skippers at Rhydymwyn in 2014 was 369 so it is not surprising that we were unable to find one.
The overall ranking of the year is 1 out of the 4 years of surveys at the site. A wonderful year of butterflies at Rhydymwyn, when 7042 butterflies were recorded.

Brian and Sue Roberts
September 2014

View our butterfly blogs here:

Volunteering coming up…

We are always looking for volunteers to help us with our conservation tasks, if yourself or a group would like to become involved with any of the activities below, plase do get in contact:

Tues 11th Feb – Hedge & woodland management – Maes y Grug, Alltami – 10 (please bring lunch and warm clothes)
Tues 18th Feb – Scrub clearance – Knowle Hill, Buckley – 10, meeting at the Glynne Arms car park
Thurs 20th Feb – Hedge & woodland management – Stryt Las, Rhosllanerchrugog – 10 (please bring lunch and warm clothes)
Sat 22nd Feb – Barn owl pellet dissection workshop – Rhydymwyn – 10 – 3 (please bring lunch)
Thurs 6th Mar – Hedge & woodland management – Stryt Las, Rhosllanerchrugog – 10 (please bring lunch and warm clothes)
Tues 1st April – Hedge improvement – Knowle Hill, Buckley – 10 – 2 (please bring lunch and warm clothes)
Tues 15th April – Litter pick – Knowle Hill, Buckley – 10 – 2 (please bring warm clothes and wellies)

Volunteering at Rhydymwyn will take place with Kate Wilson:
Volunteering at Knowle Hill will take place on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month with Lucie Bernardova:
Please contact us if you would like more information, or would like to come along.

Dead hedging at Knowle Hill, Buckley
adrian and dead hedge2

Harvest mouse nest search

As part of the Mammals in a Sustainable Environment project, we will be conducting a harvest mouse nest search at Rhydymwyn, near Mold on Friday 31st January.

We have very few records of harvest mice in Wales, but a nest was found here in 2008, so we are keen to establish whether the species is still present in the area. The nest survey will involve searching by hand through rough grasses and reedbeds, so please bring strong gloves, suitable outdoor clothing and boots or wellingtons. Please bring your own packed lunch and refreshments.

We will meet at 10am at North East Wales Wildlife, 17 Nant Alyn Road, Rhydymwyn, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 5HQ.

If you would like to attend, please contact

Christmas Wreath Workshop- Sunday November 24th

Join NEWW and Specialist Florist Jill Duerden to learn how to create a professional looking Christmas wreath for the front door out of natural materials. This day is also suitable for children.
Venue: NEWWildlife, 17 Nant Alyn Road , Rhydymwyn, Mold, CH7 5HQ
Cost : £20 per person or £10 for volunteers
Please contact, or ring the office on 01352 742115 to book a place

Otter Project

We have been trying to follow the progress of the otters living around Rhydymwyn, with help from Kim, a student from Northop College. Thus study has been looking for tracks, spraints, and pictures from our stealth cameras that we have set up. We can happily say there has been a lot of activity in the form of footprints, spraints, and gorgeous pictures, and we are starting to build up a picture of their habits and movements.


NEWWildlife Blog

Our NEWWildlife Blog is still in full swing and brimming with posts. Why not take a look and read all about our recent Indigo course, a Yoga walk and ‘The State of Nature’ through the descriptive powers of Sarah Lewis.

Up-Cycled Clothing Workshop

Where: Rhydymwyn Valley Nature Reserve
When: 10am until 4pm 2nd March
How Much: £20pp

Make yourself a “waste coat” using a jumper or cardigan that has outlived its use or use a charity shop find. You will gain the confidence to cut up and re-sew your jumper into a one-off, individually designed garment.

Booking is essential. Refreshments will be provided throughout the day, but you will need to provide your own lunch.

For more information, or to book your place, please contact Rachel Bailey on 01352 742115 or email

Free traditional skills course

There are still some places left on our coming back to run a second traditional skills weekend on the 9th and 10th of February run by Outback2Basics. We’ve been promised more exciting activities such as bark containers and whittling woodland cutlery!
This event is free of charge.
For more details and to book a place, visit:

Helping garden birds this winter

We have seen lots of birds on our feeders at Rhydymwyn lately, due to the cold weather, here are our tips for helping birds survive the winter:

  • Fat balls are brilliant at this time of year as they provide instant energy, as well as peanuts and meal worms.
  • With fat balls / peanuts it is ALWAYS best remove the mesh bags that they come in to avoid any birds / mammals from eating the plastic or becoming caught in the mesh with their feet or beaks
  • Putting out enough food for just a day or two at a time can prevent it from freezing or going soggy and mouldy
  • Having fresh water is also crucial for them, a saucer with warm water near to the food could be a life saver
  • Its never too late to put up a bird box, many birds will use them to roost in over night
  • Wash your hands after handling feeders
  • ENJOY watching what comes into your garden!
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