TreeTalk#2 May 2022

“Butterflies and shared horizons”

Hope you’ve been out and about in nature enjoying the tentative arrival of Spring and this warmer weather.

Recently, I took a trip to the Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve with Roo and Nicky (Speckled Wood Wildlife) in search of the Grizzled Skipper (below right), a rare butterfly only found in 10 locations in Wales. I wasn’t disappointed and we also spotted some other species including Dingy Skippers, Orange Tips and Brimstones. The intricate wing patterns on these fragile, transient creatures never cease to amaze me, just admire the contrasting patterns seen on the Orange Tip’s top and underside wings – is incredible isn’t it (below left)?

We have around 56 different butterfly species in the UK and the butterfly conservation website is a great online resource to help you identify them and if you want to buy a comprehensive text guide to butterflies of the UK we recommend “Butterflies of Britain and Ireland” by Jeremy Thomas. Butterflies are a really important “indicator organisms”, this means they tell us how healthy a habitat is. Their life cycles are delicately balanced, relying on predictable seasonal changes, specific plant food sources and sometimes the life cycle of other animals such as ants. Many species only thrive in small “wildlife pockets” and if we lose this biodiversity, we are in danger of destroying our own natural habitat. So, make a start this summer to familiarise yourself with one or two of these delightful creatures, learn their names and read about their lifecycles and before you know it, you and your children will be hooked!

The Niche

We have a newly designated, nature & science tent at this year’s festival called “The Niche”. The line-up of speakers at this year’s event, will focus on biodiversity, nature conservation and the “connections” that can be made between ourselves and the natural environment. In fact, “Connections” is the key theme for BTT2022. Returning, will be Drs Roo and Nicky Perkins (Speckled Wood Wildlife) and Dr Leanne Unsworth, Director of Project Sea Grass, who will be telling us all about the vital need to protect our carbon sequestering “Gardens under the sea”. This year we welcome Andrew Mason from the RSPB, who will talk about the “origins of the RSPB” and the inception of wildlife activism. We hope to develop this talk into an afternoon debate entitled, “Eco-activism: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. We also have other conservation organisations contributing to talks, discussions and workshops including Natur am Byth, who are involved with a conservation of the High Brown Fritillary butterfly (below left) and Initiative for Nature Conservation Cymru (INCC), who do amazing conservation work in Wales, including a breeding program for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly (below right). Joining one or all of these organisations is a great way to support nature conservation and connect you and your family to nature.

In the Seren Barn, we will have a wide selection of authors, writers and storytellers who will be educating and entertaining us with their knowledge, experiences and creative works. The Saturday and Sunday themes will be “Tales from the Land” and “Connections to the Land”, respectively.  Starting us off will be local musicians, Gareth Davies on sitar, guitar and vocals and Sarah Dickson on vocals, guitar and Shruti aka Songfisher. They will be performing songs and relating tales of local folklore such as the legend of the Goblin Stone, which sits in Candleston Castle located on the southern boundary of the festival and the legend of Treganlaw, the buried town of a thousand hands, which was lost to the sand dunes in 1607.  Dan Mitchell will continue this theme with tales of Welsh mythical fairies; Coblynau (mine fairies), Bwbachod (household fairies), Gwragedd Annwn (underwater fairies), and Gwyllion (mountain fairies) and not forgetting the Ellyllon (elves). Sunday will see us focus more on our physical connection to the land with writers talking about foraging, managing an orchard and maintaining woodlands and forests (More information and details about these and other talks will be in the TreeTalk#3 June publication).

The Seren Barn

We have the privilege of hosting a number of writers who have contributed to the recent collaborative publication Gorwelion: Shared Horizons”. This is a climate change anthology of poetry and prose edited by prize-winning writer and environmental activist Robert Minhinnick, featuring Welsh, Scottish, Indian and English writers. Five writers from India and five from the UK were asked to consider global climate change and biodiversity issues and introduce ‘future thinking’. This future might be mundane, marvellous or dreadful. Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, commented “This project aims to imagine what life in Wales could look like in the future as seen through the lens of the cultural dimension of well-being”. The considerate and careful planning of the future for our children has never been more important and we have a great responsibility to do the right thing. We hope that this will be the topic of another lively debate in the Seren Barn on Saturday afternoon.

The last of our pre-festival Between The Trees Sessions is this month on Friday 20th May and features Firewoodisland, Our Atlantic Roots and Welsh harpist, Bethan Nia. Tickets can be found on the BTT website. Thank you to everyone who came along and apologies to those of you who live further afield and can’t make the trip to South Wales. One idea we are floating is to have an early spring BTT fringe weekend festival in the Town of Pontypridd, South Wales. This means we can all get together twice a year!!

Ticket Update

Lastly, a quick ticket update, we are closing the extended early bird tickets on Sunday 22nd May, this is also the last day for paying through instalments. Glamping is nearly sold out with just 4 tents left and forest camping has only a handful of pitches available. There is still plenty of room in the field camping area and about 10 pitches left in the family camping area. Remember you can check on your tickets and obtain your car park permits when you register and Log In to “my account” via the website.

best wishes BTT Team.