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Damsels in distress

Damselflies and Dragonflies flourish in clean water. Credit: Glandwr Cymru

Glandwr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales is warning the wettest winter on record could have had a lasting impact on populations of damselflies and dragonflies.

It says fluctuating river levels and fast currents are known to wash away larva (or nymphs).

As larva live underwater for up to three years, our unprecedented floods may have a long-term effect on dragonfly populations.

Dragonflies' ancestors were around before dinosaurs. Credit: Glandwr Cymru

The Trust is asking people to help monitor the insects as part of its annual Great Nature Watch, which launches today

Gannets pictured in flight at Grassholm Island

Scientists from the University of Exeter have captured some incredible footage of what it's like to fly with the UK's largest seabird.

Researchers working in the RSPB's Grassholm Island nature reserve in Pembrokeshire attached miniature cameras to some of the gannets nesting there to produce these amazing pictures.

Footage courtesy of the University of Exeter.

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Rare shark spotted off Pembrokeshire coast

The thresher shark leaps from the water surrounded by a pod of dolphins Credit: Richard Crossen for Sea Trust

A rare thresher shark estimated to be around four metres in length has been spotted leaping out of the water half a mile off Milford Haven.

The photograph was taken by a group of researchers who were observing a large pod of dolphins many of which were with their calves.

Thresher sharks are extremely rare in UK waters with just six sightings in 2012 and two in 2011.

The researchers from Sea Trust believe the shark was feeding on the Mackerel the dolphins were feeding on but admitted baby dolphins may also feature on the diet of a shark of that size.

Read: Visit the Sea Trust website to find out more about marine life off the Welsh coast

'Rare dolphin species' makes home off Bardsey Island

The Risso’s dolphin breed is large and grey with a blunt nose, and is described by experts as 'shy' Credit: Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Researchers say a rare dolphin species has made its home off the Welsh coast.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation society says a small number of Risso's dolphins have been returning regularly to live and breed in the sea off Bardsey Island in North Wales.

Chris Butler Stroud, chief executive of WDC, said: "This new research underlines that this is a small population and that the waters of North Wales are important for it.

"We must do everything in our power now to make sure that this small group survives."

Funding 'will help tackle pressures' on wildlife

Despite conservation successes in recent years, Welsh wildlife is declining as the number of pressures it faces continues to rise.

This funding will help to tackle these pressures by enabling us to better understand how we can operate effectively in a modern world while sustaining a resilient and healthy environment in Wales. Good management of our ecosystems is essential, as it not only benefits the environment, but can help make us more resilient to climate change and extreme weather events such as flooding.

Wales is blessed with some of the most beautiful and unique wildlife in the UK and is really important that we take action to protect it now so that we, and our future generations, can it enjoy it for many years to come.

– Alun Davies, Natural Resources Minister

£1.5m Welsh Govt funding to help protect wildlife

Earlier this week, the Welsh Government was challenged to act to stem the decline of wildlife. Credit: PA

Wales' Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies has announced £1.5m funding to help protect wildlife here.

The investment will help "to deliver healthy ecosystems and make Wales' natural environment more resilient to climate change."

This week, a report from a group of 25 wildlife organisations warned that Wales' wildlife is "at crisis point" with more than one in 10 of all the species assessed under threat of extinction.

The Welsh Government says this funding "aims to address a number of issues set out in the report and will help protect Wales's precious natural environment."

Read More: Welsh wildlife 'facing crisis'

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Thousands participate in Big Garden Birdwatch

The Big Garden Birdwatch helps experts analyse the increase and decline in bird species Credit: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Thousands of people across Wales have been taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch over the last couple of days.

The RSPB says the cold weather has made birds head to parks and gardens in their search for food.

Amateur watchers noted the highest number of each species seen in their gardens or local park. Their findings will help experts gather vital information about the species that populate our gardens and parks.

Birdwatch reveals 'alarming decline' in some species

Starling
There has been a dramatic decline in the number of starlings (pictured) seen in our gardens Credit: Johnny Green/PA

The Big Garden Birdwatch has helped highlight an 'alarming decline' in some species, according to the RSPB.

An average of 15 starlings were seen per garden during the first Birdwatch in 1979. By 2012 that had fallen to an average of three starlings per garden - the lowest level ever recorded.

House sparrow numbers have also fallen by two-thirds over the lifetime of the Birdwatch.

It's not all bad news, however - some bird species have fared considerably better over the anual event's 34 years.

Sightings of popular species like blue tits, great tits and coal tits in gardens have increased since 1979.

And goldfinches, which were absent from the Big Garden Birdwatch top 15 in the early years, have featured regularly as a top 15 species since 2004.

Dana Thomas, from RSPB Cymru, said: "The decline of birds like starlings and sparrows over the last 30 years or so has been alarming.

"But Big Garden Birdwatch has helped us find out more about their numbers and distribution across UK gardens, and that has been the first step in helping to put things right."

Big Garden Birdwatch helps RSPB 'gather vital data'

The RSPB says this weekend's Big Garden Birdwatch, which is taking place across Wales, will help gather vital information about the species that populate our gardens and parks.

It's a great way to get to know the creatures that live around us, and that's especially important for children. Feeding garden birds can often be a child's first encounter with wildlife and can spark a lifelong interest in nature.

– Dana Thomas from RSPB Cymru

Thousands expected to join Big Garden Birdwatch

The freezing temperatures have meant many birds struggling to source food (file photo) Credit: Katja Ogrin/EMPICS Entertainment

With more sub-zero temperatures on the way, many wild birds are likely to be driven into our parks and gardens in search of food.

This weekend thousands across Wales are expected to join in with the Big Garden Birdwatch - noting the highest number of each species seen in their gardens or local park, then submitting the results to the RSPB.

Last year almost 30,000 people across Wales took part in the watch, counting half a million birds between them.

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