We're pleased to announce that the choughs nesting in Llechwedd Slate Caverns are the proud parents of three chicks.
Back in April, the pair laid a clutch of eggs on which the female sat tight for 21 days. Then, at the start of May, the male tempted her off the nest with some tasty morsels, suggesting that the eggs had hatched.
After several visitors commented on the strange noises coming from the nest, we did a bit of detective work and confirmed that this was the case.
With a camera and microphone trained on the nest, visitors can catch a glimpse of, and hear, the shy chicks on a screen inside the visitor centre - they've already been seen on several occasions popping their naked pink heads over the nest, calling to their parents for food.
As the chicks get bigger and stronger, they'll start wandering around the cavern testing their legs and investigating every nook and cranny, much like we hope you'll do when you join us at Llechwedd Slate Caverns!
With all our other peregrine nests busy celebrating the arrival of chicks, things have gone a bit quiet from the Cardiff peregrines, so I decided to find out why.
Sarah Lewis, our lady at the Clock Tower, told me more:
The start of May was a depressing time for us Date with Nature staff working on the Peregrines on the Clock Tower project in Cardiff city centre.
After a normal morning on Sunday 3 May, at about 3.30 pm the birds suddenly became very agitated and active around the Clock Tower. At first, we thought their excitement was due to the eggs hatching. This turned out not to be the case.
The birds could be seen perched at the top of the tower, leaving the nest completely unattended. Later that evening, one of the adults was seen forlornly circling the tower, occasionally landing at the eyrie (but not sitting) and looking generally lost - the eggs had failed and the peregrines had abandoned the nest.
A new day....
Tuesday 5 May was another day of interesting behaviour with the birds spending a lot of time on or around a new (old raven’s!) nest on the east facing clock face.
It is unusual, but not unheard of, for peregrines to lay a second clutch of eggs after sitting for the full incubation period. And when it does happen it tends to occur only in city nesting peregrines, reflecting the greater availability of food in cities later in the year.
It is now middle of May and there is no sign of a second clutch. However, they continue to show the ‘lovey-dovey’ bonding behaviour more commonly seen before laying in February and March, so we live in hope.
We do have some good news - our fantastic new camera is up and running and even has its own windscreen wiper, giving people fantastic views of the pair.
So, get yourself down to the National Museum Wales - there is still plenty to see.
What do you do when you really want to see a puffin, but can't make a Gannet and Puffin cruise along the cliffs of Bempton and Flamborough?
Go on Puffin Patrol at Bempton Cliffs, of course.
Puffins are instantly recognisable in their smart breeding plumage - black and white feathers, all topped off with a bright yellow, blue and orange beak.
This is the best time of year to watch seabirds as they come to our shores to nest, and our Bempton Cliffs nature reserve is one of the best places in Britain to see them. As well as puffins, there will also be guillemots, gannets, and razorbills all engrossed in their annual struggle to raise a family.
Please note, other puffins are available: Why not take a Puffin Island wildlife cruise, maybe enjoy a Puffin evening at Sumburgh Head, or have a Puffin fun weekend. Alternatively, you could just take one home.
I've just heard from Kitty Brayne, one of our Date with Nature Project Officers, about her date with Handsome herons in Verulamium Park.
So, what did she have to say?
'It seems like a long time ago that we arrived in Verulamium Park to set up the heron viewpoint. Just a couple of weeks earlier, the park was covered in snow and the lake frozen over. Pairs of herons were just starting to fix up their nests in the tops of leafless trees. Over ten weeks we watched winter turn into spring as the first flush of fresh leaves appeared and the parks wildlife went into overdrive.
More than 11,000 people viewed the busy heronry through our telescopes and binoculars. Throughout the season we were treated to the awe-inspiring sight of these prehistoric looking birds swooping low across the lake before landing precariously in the trees. Loads of visitors were surprised to find out that these huge birds nested so high up.
First we watched male herons ripping branches from the willow trees to present to their partners in the treetops. Then, in early March it looked like the anxious parents were sitting tight on eggs - we caught our first glimpses of fluffy heads poking out of the nests at the end of the month. The chicks grew incredibly fast and were soon almost the size of their parents, but still very distinctive with their Mohican style plumage.
There were plenty of other spectacles which managed to divert our attention from the herons. Red kites made regular appearances - on one clear day, we watched three of these graceful birds circling above the Abbey.
Closer to the water, kingfishers were spotted zipping past, whilst grey wagtails became our regular companions bobbing along the edge of the lake. A young cormorant drying its wings out and red-eared terrapins basking on logs also proved popular.
Love was in the air for the park's residents, with the elegant courtship routines of great crested grebes and mute swans providing a bit of class. However, love also brought out the aggressive side in a few creatures.
First it was the coots having a go at each other, then we saw mallard drakes with almost no chest feathers left after prolonged bouts with rivals.
Eventually these matters were settled and important parenting business was underway across the park. We watched a pair of coots diligently building their nest right in the middle of the water in front of us (amongst the usual sticks and branches they also made use of plastic bags!).
And a pair of great crested grebes set up shop directly opposite us. During the last couple of weeks, lucky visitors caught glimpses of stripy little heads poking out from under a parents wing.
By the end of April there were fleets of ducklings and bright yellow goslings being shepherded around by their parents.
The young herons are now nearly ready to leave their nests, and along with their parents will soon leave the heronry to spend the rest of the year on their own.
We'll be back again next year, so make sure you put a date with nature in your diaries for another chance to see this exciting spectacle.'
The shyest of shy birds - corncrakes - have arrived back on Islay! There are three males calling away among the nettles and iris at our Loch Gruinart reserve, with numbers expected to increase over the coming weeks.
It's nothing short of incredible that these plump little birds can make it all the way here from southern Africa, but somehow they do, and once they get here, they plunge into their mechanical, rasping call right from the word go.
Down on our reserve on the Oa, chough have been actively feeding on the grazed grassland and a male golden eagle has been getting serious hassle from the crows and ravens - but he's still looking glorious soaring around on the sunny days. Get yourself over to this beautiful island and see some of the UK's rarest wildlife - in May and June there'll also be marsh fritillary butterflies to ogle at on the reserves.
We run entertaining guided walks every week at 10 am - on Tuesdays at the Oa and Thursdays at Loch Gruinart.
Come and discover Islay's wildside - there's shy birds and show-offs in equal measure...