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Adrian in the Amazon - part 6

Adrian Plant, 24 Ebrill 2015

Having completed our work at Yanayacu we have moved further down the eastern slopes of the Andes to the town of Tena in Napo Province. Here at only 500m above sea level it is much hotter than in the mountains - a truly tropical climate. The town is placed on the last slight hills before the Andes sweep down and merge onto the flatlands of the Amazon Basin. West of here, the rivers are fast and furious having dropped 3000m or more in just 50km through the mountains whereas to the east they become sluggish and it will take another 3000km for them to drop the remaining 500m to the sea.

Our visit to Tena is necessary to complete administrative formalities and to obtain permits allowing us to move the specimens we have collected between different provinces within Ecuador. After three visits to the Ministry of Environment, numerous phone calls, support from a well-connected colleague at the newly established university in Tena and from colleagues in Quito we are still waiting for a positive outcome!

Josenir and I have to move on to our next study site in Loja Province and we have no chance or getting the permits through in time. Fortunately, Eduardo has to remain in the town to deliver a 3-day entomology course to the students at the university. The hope is that he can complete the formalities and bring our specimens with him when he moves back to Quito next week and we can take them from him when we pass through Quito on our way out of the country. Meanwhile Josy and I have a plane to catch….

Find out more about what Adrian has been up to by reading his past blogs.

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales team up with British Institute for Geological Conservation for the 2015 RHS Show

This year, for the first time Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales had its own marquee at the Cardiff Royal Horticultural Society Show. The Museum has been represented at the show for several years, enabling us to share with the public many of our hidden treasures from the museum’s collections. Our theme, Tropical Plants: bringing the tropics back to Wales, provided an excellent introduction to the Museum’s Botany collections. Visitors marvelled at the coco-de-mer, the world’s largest seed (native to the Seychelles). Curator, Heather Pardoe, introduced show-goers to a selection of sumptuous eighteenth-century botanical illustrations, rarely on show to the public, originally painted in tropical countries including Australia, India, America and Java.

The highlight for many was the opportunity to hunt for fossils with experts from the Museum, led by Ben Evans (BIGC) and Head of Botany Chris Cleal. Young and old alike were thrilled to split rocks and discover Carboniferous plant fossils, dating back 300 million years. This year the fossil hunt was accompanied by a prehistoric reconstruction, created using tree ferns, horsetails and an amazing diversity of mosses. The Carboniferous garden was home for the weekend to our incredible Arthur the Arthropleura (a giant millipede from the Carboniferous period), another show stopper.  Visitors could also see exotic insects, accidentally imported into Britain,  held in the Museum’s Entomology collections, and learn about both the OPAL and the Spring Bulb projects.  Over the three days of the show more than 5,000 people visited the Museum’s marquee, out of a record-breaking 24,000 visitors to the show.

We’d like to thank Waitrose Pontprennau, PJS Flowers and Miller Argent for supporting and sponsoring our activities and displays this year.

To find out more about the museum’s presence at the RHS show, why not read our Storify story

Llys Rhosyr: ffenest i'r gorffennol

Dafydd Wiliam, 22 Ebrill 2015

Mae ein neuadd ganoloesol yn codi’n gyflym. Mae'r gwaith yn canolbwyntio ar orffen ffenestri yr adeilad lleiaf o ddau. Adeilad B yw'r enw dros dro am hwn, ac yn y gorffennol fe allai wedi bod yn siambr wely’r tywysog (gan fod enghreifftiau eraill o neuadd a siambr gyfagos yn bodoli) neu yn gegin, a fyddai hefyd yn debygol o fod yn agos i'r neuadd (oherwydd pwy fuasai am wledda ar fwyd oer?).

Mae'r ffenestri yn Romanésg eu harddull, sy’n nodweddiadol o'r cyfnod. Yn gul ar du allan yr adeilad ond yn lledaenu’n sylweddol ar y tu fewn, mae’r cynllun yn manteisio i’r eithaf ar y golau naturiol. Mae dau reswm pam eu bod mor gul: mae ffenestri bach yn haws yw hamddiffyn na ffenestri mawr, ac felly roeddent yn elfen gyffredin mewn adeiladau amddiffynnol fel cestyll; ac yn ail, gan bod gwydr ffenest yn gymharol brin yn y cyfnod roedd ffenestri bach yn lleihau’r drafft oer a allai ddod i mewn. Carreg wastad sydd ar ben bob ffenest, ond gallai hefyd fod yn fwa cerrig – roedd y naill ddull yn gyffredin yn y cyfnod. Mi fydd caeadau pren dros y ffenestri i’w cau pan fydd plant ysgol yn aros dros nôs.

Yn ogystal â'r gwaith cerrig, mae'r gwaith o lifio pren i ffrâm y to wedi cychwyn yn ddiweddar hefyd. Camp grefftus tu hwnt yw ffurfio darn pren sgwâr o gainc coeden dderw. Dim ond mewn llinell syth y gall y 'band-saw' dorri, felly mae'r gainc yn gorfod cael ei lleoli yn union cyn cychwyn y gwaith llifio. Mae angen ei addasu i lan ag i lawr, yn ogystal ag i'r chwith ag i'r dde, oherwydd gall un toriad gwael effeithio ar y toriadau dilynol i’r fath raddau nes bod y darn pren yn annefnyddiadwy.


Un o ffenestri cul y Llys.

Un o ffenestri cul y Llys.

Adeiladwr yn archwilio ei waith ar  ol gorffen y ffenest.

Mike yn archwilio ei waith ar ôl gorffen y ffenest.

Y bollt pren a fydd yn bario'r drws.

Y bollt pren a fydd yn bario'r drws.

Ceinciau derw yn barod yw llifio.

Ceinciau derw yn barod yw llifio.

Y pren wedi eu llifio ac yn barod i fod yn drawstiau.

Y pren wedi eu llifio ac yn barod i fod yn drawstiau.

Adrian in the Amazon - part 5

Adrian Plant, 22 Ebrill 2015

Our time at Yanayacu has drawn to a close. The final days fieldwork saw us collecting in the Malaise traps we had previously set and making several forays to a particularly good stream site where we had hoped to find more species of Hemerodromia. Hemerodromia is the focus of Josenir’s PhD work at INPA and we have been searching hard for specimens to help her studies.

Alas, many hours of wading up streambeds, sloshing through mud and slithering over mossy spring sources has yielded but a handful. These will be valuable for her studies but we can’t help but feel a bit disappointed by the results on this aspect of our expedition. We have speculated long and hard as to why Hemerodromia has been so hard to find. Perhaps these aquatic insects have been washed out of their streams by the unusually strong rains we are experiencing? It seems that a particularly strong El Nino event has commenced bringing late rains throughout Ecuador.

During the evenings we have been running an ultraviolet light to attract nocturnal insects to the Biological Station. A couple of nights ago we were absolutely inundated by insects with vast numbers of hawk moths, tiger moths, giant Hercules beetles and enormous stoneflies (Plecoptera) known as Dobson Flies in the US, coming to the light. It’s odd but the best nights for attracting insects are not warm balmy ones but those with torrential rain and enveloping cloud. And such were the conditions on this particular occasion.

To read more about Adrian's expedition - read his past blog posts.

artists in residence

Sian Lile-Pastore, 21 Ebrill 2015

For much of March and April (and some of may) we have been lucky enough (with support from Arts Council of Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund) to have four artists in residence in St Fagans. The artists we appointed are Melissa Appleton, James Parkinson, Claire Prosser and Bedwyr Williams.

As the residencies are quite short we were interested more in the artists' process rather than the finished product, and therefore weren't expecting the aritsts to come up wiht an exhibition or any finished pieces of work at the end of it. The artists have all been up to lots of different things - researching, working with staff, looking through the sound and film archive, filming and 3d scanning the site.  There's also been lots of meetings and discussions with staff, and generally getting involved with day to day life in the museum.

Claire Prosser has been keeping a blog about her work, which you can read right here and I'll keep you up to date about what everyone else has been up to in my next blog.