MKNHS members beat the Pembrokeshire weather to enjoy their visit – Steve Brady

Eight members of the Society visited Pembrokeshire at the invitation of Pembrokeshire U3A Natural History Group. The group was set up by former MKNHS chair Steve Brady, now living in Pembrokeshire, to whom many thanks are due.

Steve has put together a report on the visit, reproduced here:

Despite appalling weather on their visit to Tŷ Canol Wood on the Friday morning, a group of eight visitors from Milton Keynes Natural History Society, of which our Group Organiser was Secretary and Chairman for many years, enjoyed a successful and interesting visit to Pembrokeshire from 29th September to 2nd October. The visit was part of the U3A’s national celebrations of its 30th Anniversary, involving local U3Aers hosting some of our visitors in their homes.

On the wet and windy morning of Friday 30th September, our visitors plus a few hardy local U3Aers explored Tŷ Canol Wood. Mostly we were sheltered by the ancient oak trees from the worst of the elements and the magic of this very special place shone through regardless.

Amongst the finds were splendid fly agaric mushrooms such as the one below.

After enjoying our unique Celtic Rain Forest our gallant band returned through torrential rain and gales to drive to the ancient Pentre Ifan dolmen. Thence over the top of the Preselis to the Tafarn Sinc inn at Rosebush.

Here we were all made most welcome, and wet apparel dried before the log burner whilst we warmed ourselves up with coffee and hot toddies. We stayed for an excellent meal of fine Pembrokeshire produce, at which we were joined by Geoff and Rowena Winterman.

Next day dawned bright and mostly sunny. In the morning we gathered at Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm near St. David’s, where we were treated to a fascinating introductory talk about the Farm, its history and its important role in local education and conservation by Sarah, the eponymous Dr Beynon. We then enjoyed the amazing range of exotic tropical arthropods kept in their zoo, after which the braver spirits got to handle a few choice specimens.

Lunch followed at the Grub Kitchen, the UK’s first full-time edible insect restaurant. Again, the bolder ones amongst us got to try said edible insects, such as the Crunchy Crickets in the photo above, which those who did enjoyed. There remained time to explore the plots of local wildflowers, Nature-friendly crops and species-rich grasslands on the site – which our Group will hopefully visit next summer (entomophagy optional!) –  before we headed a few miles up the coast to Abercastle.

Here our resident seal experts Pete and Carol Hall enthralled us with their knowledge of grey seal biology and natural history, based on their years of working as volunteers at a local seal rescue centre, before taking us round the coast to see the pups displayed before us on their birthing beaches. A slightly older pup came to see us in return.

A quick detour was made to see the Neolithic Carreg Samson dolmen, with a sighting of Pembrokeshire choughs thrown in to make our visitors’ natural history experience complete. After which what all concerned agreed had been a highly successful visit was rounded off with a splendid repast, none of which was insectile, at the Ship Inn in the lovely village of Solva.

Whilst staying with Jennifer Huggett in Castle Morris, one of our visitors, Linda Murphy, set up a moth trap. On the Friday night she recorded 16 Lunar Underwings and one each of the Beaded Chestnut and the Pinion-streaked Snout. On Saturday night she trapped no less than 42 Lunar Underwings, two each of the Yellow-line Quaker and the Beaded Chestnut plus one each of the Large Yellow Underwing and the Square-spot Rustic. A fine haul this late in the season, and one which may inspire local members to start moth-trapping and recording.

On behalf of the Natural History Group of Pembrokeshire U3A and at the request of Milton Keynes Natural History Society on their behalf too I should like to thank all local U3Aers who helped make this 30th Anniversary event the great success it proved to be, notably Pat Lewis and Jennifer Huggett for accommodating some of our visitors in their homes and Pete and Carol Hall, Geoff and Rowena Winterman and Mary Bartlett for turning out to welcome them. Our Chair, Jan Manning, had hoped to join us at the Ship but sadly was unwell.

Steve Brady
October 2022