Filling in the Gaps: Nov-Dec updates

29 01 2013

November was our last full month of teaching and with numerous group projects and PSA’s scheduled to take place, the month marked the end to a busy and successful teaching season here at Orielton. But even with the end of the year drawing close this was no time to rest on our laurels and with that in mind many of the education team have committed time for their individual projects and responsibilities.
Our very own Chris, Milly and Joe spent much of the month in Taiwan sharing field education techniques with other Taiwanese experts, a blog detailing this exciting project will soon be posted, watch this space!
With three of the team out of the country (sunbathing by a tranquil pool no doubt…), those of us in Orielton found plenty of tasks to be getting on with, Sarah being invited to Ysgol Brogwayn in Fishguard as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programme, which focuses on inspiring future generations in areas of the labour market where there are significant skills shortages.
Alongside members of the police, fire service and others, Sarah used her 1 hour session to demonstrate energy transfer systems in freshwater ecology and to discuss the importance of ecology not only from an environmental standpoint but its wider implications across many different job sectors.
Sarah also found time to attain her level 4 qualification in PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Sector), attending a week long session at FSC Preston Montford, Alongside Catherine from our sister centre Dale Fort.
The Laundry Cottage has been given a much needed overhaul with our two new EA’s repainting the kitchen and living rooms, and designing a feature wall over the fireplace. EA cottage fireplace
We also say good bye to Cameron who started at Orielton earlier this year as an EA (although no one’s sure what his job title is now) and we wish him luck as he goes on the Trainee tutor scheme, to later join the FSC as a Tutor, we know he will be an invaluable asset to whichever centre he is employed by.

Orielton kicked off December by hosting a beach clean at our local adopted beach, West Angle Bay. With the beautiful brisk weather that is typical of this time of year, the turnout was high, with many of the team getting into the festive spirit, turning up in Christmassy head gear; the event was met with success and a good time enjoyed by all. The team managed to collect 28.8kg of litter from the beach, ensuring not only that local wildlife is protected from the consequences of litter but also that one of the most beautiful bays in the region maintains its status as a local jewel.
Martha, one of our dedicated tutors, organises and leads our beach cleans at West Angle and will be advertising our next beach clean in the new year, for details please watch this space for updates on our future beach cleans or check out our flyers that can often be found on the billboards in Angle village.
Throughout the month our EA’s have been working tirelessly on renovating the staff lab, which until recently had been used for storage. The room has now been restored to include;
– the EA’s new office,
– a work station for the repair of the centre’s extensive scientific lab & field equipment
– and the all new coffee corner!, which many of the staff are particularly excited about.


ESDGC Carmarthenshire

24 01 2013

Yesterday Joe and myself (Sarah) visited two schools in Carmarthenshire: Ysgol Glan-Y-Mor and Y Strade to talk to some of their staff and pupils about their ESDGC programmes.Image


ESDGC stands for “Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship” a mouthful of a title for an approach that aims to help students develop the knowledge, values and skills to participate in decisions about the way we do things individually and collectively, both locally and globally, that will improve the quality of life now without damaging the planet for the future. It is a whole curriculum approach to help pupils understand the links between society, economy and environment and between our own lives and those of people throughout the world. This approach is also vital for schools to achieve “outstanding” under the new Estyn framework.


There are seven key areas for study: wealth and poverty, identity and culture, choices and decisions, health, consumption and waste, climate change and natural environment. As an environmental organisation Orielton is committed to advocating many similar ideals so we have been able to get involved with these schools to help them achieve their ESDGC objectives.  


In mid November 2012 representatives from both schools attended a weekend residential course at Orielton where they participated in a range of activities related to ESDGC and to build their confidence as “Champions”, and then started thinking about what they would like to do back at their school.


Ysgol Glan-Y-Mor have decided to renovate an area of land to use as a pond so we went to visit the site and discuss a timescale of events to take place. In the spring we hope to visit the school again and help students clear out the area for the natural pond. Due to the proximity of other ponds, colonisation should occur quickly, however we have thought about taking a sample from our pond at Orielton just to kick things off!


Y Strade would like to develop a couple of plots of land within the school and have lots of ideas about things to do there! They are currently finishing building a greenhouse out of plastic bottles and are digging some plots to plant vegetables.


We look forward to visiting again soon and rolling up our sleeves to get these projects off the ground!

Annual January Training

23 01 2013

Every year the education teams of the FSC get together for a whole 5 days at the geographically central Preston Montford Centre, near Shrewsbury. The central position of this learning location helps keep our carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum but still allow valuable face-to-face training activities.

Everyone stays in the residential accommodation, usually occupied by students. Upon awakening on the Tuesday morning we were all treated to a beautiful, snowy, frosty scene. As well as enjoying a good catch up and being thoroughly well fed by the hospitality team, we did a lot of learning.

Image The first half of the week was dedicated to geography and the second half to biology. Our main focuses were keeping up to date with what the exam boards are up to, keeping up to date with the latest technology (ipads and geographical information systems) and also discussing proposed future changes to the curriculum.

Bye for now! Martha


Geography Feedback

14 09 2012

<a href="Wordle: OR Geog” title=”Geography Feedback”>Geography Feedback

A Wordle about us.

Moth Night and National Insect Week

1 07 2012

Last week saw the occurrence of two important entomological events in the UK; Moth Night and National Insect Week.  Both are aimed at raising awareness of each group of animals and also to encourage recording of species around the country.  To find out more have a look at these websites: and

FSC Orielton tried to do its bit for our 6-legged brethren and after a still and humid day we set-out our moth trap last Monday night (25/06/12).  There was a bit of trepidation come Tuesday morning, however, as rain was pelting down and it looked as though we’d be finding swimming moths rather than the usual flying ones.  The fear dissipated as soon as the first egg box was lifted though as there were over 44 individuals and 20 separate macro-moth species!  Now, I’m not certain what the collective noun for moths is but I’ve heard of a group of them being described as a ‘universe’ as well as a ‘collection’ or ‘whisper’.  However, in relation to our catch on Monday I’m going to lean towards the more stellar of nouns for what we found.

Some of the stars of this universe are provided for your viewing pleasure.  I hope you all enjoy them.

The famous moth used to illustrate natural selection.

Named for the larvae’s apparent tendency for dew.

Some of the most interesting species we found were those with subtle and clever camouflage or with behavioural adaptations to prevent predation.  The Small Angle Shades (Euplexia lucipara) and White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) are two prime examples:

Notice the colouration and the unusual way the wings are held when resting that combine to make the moth look a little like a dead leaf.

Playing dead (thanatosis) and displaying bright colours as a warning (aposematism).

If you’d like to see more of the moth and other insect species we’ve found around the Orielton grounds (as well as updates on what’s going on over here) then ‘like’ our Facebook page and check out the photos section:

Hopefully we’ll soon have photographs of all the species that can be found in our neck of the woods to keep you all interested.



7 06 2012

It’s that time of year again!  Time for our quarterly survey of the exposed rocky shore at Manorbier .

Now, Manorbier isn’t just a confusingly pronounced part of Pembrokeshire’s coastline (don’t try and say it with a French accent) but a wonderful shoreline showcasing fascinating geology and biological zonation of organisms.


A panorama of the rocky shore at Manorbier.

So what do we survey?  We look at the changes in abundance and occurrence of organisms (animals, algae and lichens) as we move from the lower shore to the upper.  This information is recorded and filed with a view to monitoring any changes over time at the site.  The education staff at Orielton always go down during spring tides which allow us to survey the entire shore – from kelp beds to splash zone – and this quarter it was Sarah, Martha and myself (Cameron).

What we found this quarter wasn’t particularly surprising as Manorbier conforms to the very general model of zonation of biota on a rocky shore – more animals at the bottom than the top, algae more predominant in mid/lower-shore and lichens dominating the further up you go.  This extremely generalised statement is dealt with in more detail, as well as many other aspects of rocky shore ecology, on the Field Studies Council’s rocky shore resource.  You can study it here:

Aside from the surveying we also explored the area; turning over rocks and looking in nooks and crannies.  To keep you all entertained then have a look at some of our photos:


Five-bearded rockling (Ciliata mustela)


Snakelocks anemone (Anemonia viridis)


A Brittlestar – possibly Common Brittlestar (Ophiothrix fragilis)


Common limpet (Patella vulgata) with scars on the rock showing past activity.

These photographs, plus others, will eventually be uploaded to our Facebook page ( so ‘Like’ us and keep checking for updates!

Of Moths and Men

31 05 2012

After a period of dormancy (is pupation a more appropriate term?) moth trapping has returned to Orielton!  Thanks to the construction skills of Rich ‘The Toolman’ Edwards we have our own fully functional and, it must be said, stylish Skinner light trap.


The Official FSC Orielton Moth Trap

As you all will know, many moths can be seen flying around lights at night, an aspect of their biology that the Skinner trap takes advantage of.  The bulb you can see in the middle is a mercury vapour bulb which emits an extremely bright light that can be seen from a fair distance – as anybody in and around the centre would be able to attest.  This attracts the moths who then circle the light and eventually land on the sloping perspex sheets before crawling down through a long opening and settling at the bottom of the trap.  Very kindly, we provide egg boxes for them under the perspex.  It’s not that they are fans of cardboard or anything (more fool them) but rather that the cartons give small, dark spaces for them to settle and hide underneath.

Enough of the mundane stuff, what did we find?  Here are some of my favourites.  Have a go at identifying them yourself and if you’re unsure, hover your mouse over the photos to discover the names.


Clue: Its larvae are known for being ‘crabby’.


Clue: One of the umbers.


Clue: Look at the position of the hindwings for identification.

All in all we recorded 14 species across 7 separate Lepidopteran families: Geometridae, Sphingidae, Notodontidae, Lymantriidae, Arctiidae, Nolidae and Noctuidae.  An alright haul for our first time.

Keep checking the blog to find out about any new species appearing here and, hopefully, see some cool photos illustrating the amazing diversity of the Lepidopteran order.