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This page shows BWHEG's most recent activities and news.


 Sunday 17th April 2022

A total of 29 species recorded on this morning’s bird survey at Garn Lakes. The female Mallards are on their nests, leaving the drakes to loaf around the lakes. Canada Geese paired up. An exceptional count of 27 singing Willow Warblers but no Swallows, Martins or Cuckoo. Plus a few thousand orienteerers getting lost on Canada Tips

 Sunday 27th March 2022


Four people joined walk leader, David, for the "Height of Folly" guided walk last Saturday.

The lady with the dog had photos with her, of her great-grandfather who was one of the lucky chaps who missed the explosion at LLanerch Pit, by being unfit for work on the day. It was a bit emotional standing by the crosses and realising that, had he gone to work that day, she probably wouldn't have been standing there with us!

 Sunday 27th February 2022

The first of our monthly guided walks for 2022 took us through Blaenavon Community Woodland and along NCN492 cycleway.

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 Sunday 24th January 2022

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A cold day for January's bird survey, with the lakes mostly frozen. One female Goosander, otherwise just the usual residents. In the woodlands, a group of five Siskins noted.

Torfaen Council have done great work around Garn Lakes, improving habitats for our wildlife. They've cleared the willow scrub from the reedbed area, improving it for wetland species and giving the reeds a chance to spread.

 Sunday 12th December 2021

A mild, murky, mizzly morning for this month's bird survey at Garn Lakes. A total of 25 species but nothing out of the ordinary. Just one Goosander, a male. Bullfinches added welcome colour to a grey day. Impressive lichens.


 Monday 6th December 2021

We were lucky to have missed the bad weather for our Christmas walk on Monday from Pontypool Park up to the grotto and the folly. Many thanks to Joyce, Audrey and Heidi for organising the walk and the delicious lunch at the golf club. Highly recommended!


Sunday 28th November 2021

A glorious cold, crisp morning for our last guided walk of the year - "On The Levels".

Five participants enjoyed the route up through Garn Lakes to the Whistle Inn, then across to the Coity track and return via Coity Tip and Mile Pond (too icy to visit the old "Coal House" level). Notable bird sightings: numerous Bullfinches, winter visitor Blackbirds, Wigeon and, on the lower Garn Lake, eight Goosander.

Watch our page for the 2022 walks, starting in the spring.

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 Thursday 21st October 2021

Dodged almost all the showers yesterday on our latest scheduled monument condition-monitoring walk led by CADW. Here is one that just missed us...

We will be sharing information about condition-monitoring soon so that those interested may report anything they note when out walking. We will also be organising a bracken-bashing task on Hill's Tramroad.

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 Sunday 17th October 2021

Another rather quiet month for the Garn Lakes bird survey.

There were two Little Grebes on the top lake as well as the usual Canada Geese, Mallard, Coots and Moorhens. There was a Grey Heron on one of the small ponds on the Lapwing nesting area (meadow). Good to see that the meadow has been mown to keep it attractive for birds such as Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.

The next survey will be on Sunday 7th November by which time some of our winter visitors may have arrived.

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 Tuesday 3rd August 2021


A great morning on Coity Tip with Liam Olds from Buglife, much enjoyed by everyone from age 4 upwards! Lots of colourful butterflies and moths. Here are Six-spot Burnet which were plentiful and Scalloped Oak. Bird highlights were a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk having a scrap overhead plus a soon-to-depart Swift along with the Swallows and House Martins.

 Sunday 25th July 2021

Another great turn out! 17 people altogether.

The sun came out early on which was unexpected.

Nice to see the wildlife as well as the archaeology.

Thank you to the walk leader and guest CADW speaker for another excellent morning out and about in the World Heritage landscape.

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 Sunday 27th June 2021

A lovely day for a walk. About 12 people, including 2 children accompanied us on this easy walk around the World Heritage Site.  The rain stayed away and the company was good. 

A big "Thank You" to the leader, David, for his interesting facts and figures along the way.

Look out for the next walk with a guest speaker on 25th July.


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 Sunday 13th June 2021

A pleasant but unspectacular morning.


Canada Goose 14 (2 goslings)

Mallard 59 (5 ducklings top lake)

Tufted Duck 1

Little Grebe 2

Coot 5


24 species in all – many now busy raising young and keeping out of sight


The “Lapwing Site” is now a beautiful wildflower meadow.


Last night on LLanover Road there were a pair of Nightjars and three more churring males in the area beyond the bend in the road plus one churring near the cattle grid.  Also a Tree Pipit.

 Sunday 16th May 2021

Garn Lakes - Bird Count Survey

We dodged the worst of this morning’s showers to record 36 species.  Of note:


=  Little Grebe probably nesting on top lake

=  Plenty of Canada Geese but no goslings

=  Only one (half-grown) Mallard duckling

=  Pair of Cuckoos around, harassed by Jackdaws


Maybe there’s some significant predation taking place.  We found a smashed egg by the Lapwing site – Canada Goose egg?

Blackbird (12)          Blackcap (4)       

Bullfinch (2)            Buzzard (2)         

Canada Goose (15)    Carrion Crow (2)              

Chaffinch (7)           Chiffchaff (2)     

Coot (10)               Cormorant (1)   

Cuckoo (2)             Domestic Mallard (1)     

Dunnock (1)           Goldfinch (1)     

Great Tit (1)            Green Woodpecker (1)

Greenfinch (1)         House Sparrow (2)          

Jackdaw (35)           Kestrel (1)          

Lesser Black-backed Gull (1)        

Lesser Redpoll (2)      Linnet (2)            

Little Grebe (1)         Magpie (5)         

Mallard (25)            Meadow Pipit (1)             

Raven (1)               Reed Bunting (2)              

Robin (18)              Song Thrush (4)                

Sparrowhawk (1)       Swallow (3)        

Willow Warbler (9)    Woodpigeon (11)            

Wren (13)    

 Sunday 9th May 2021


The birds were out in force!

Over 20 different species were identified.

The weather through the night was appalling but it had brightened up by 6:30 a.m. just long enough for this event to take place


 Tuesday 4th May 2021

Good news! Well, we think it is.

Check out our "What's On" page for a list of up to date events, including a "Dawn Chorus" guided walk for early risers.


 Sunday 11th April 2021

Garn Lakes - Bird Count Survey

It was nice to be able to go to Garn Lakes and record the species in Spring 2021. It has been a long time coming but hopefully more lockdown restrictions will be eased soon allowing BWHEG volunters to get out and about  again.

It was a chilly morning at Garn Lakes.  Coot and Canada Goose on nests.  Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs singing but no other spring arrivals.  The surprise of the day was a pair of Crossbills that obligingly perched in a larch at the Blaenavon end of the reserve.  

Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were about.  One Lapwing over Waunavon Bog 

Here’s the full list – should be more for next month’s breeding bird count…


Blackbird (7)                      Bullfinch (1)

Buzzard (1)                       Canada Goose (16)

Carrion Crow (3)                 Chaffinch (5)

Chiffchaff (4)                      Coal Tit (2)

Common Crossbill (2)            Coot (8)

Dunnock (3)                      Great Tit (3)

Green Woodpecker (1)           Herring Gull (2)

Jackdaw (6)                       Lesser Black-backed Gull (2)

Long-tailed Tit (1)                 Magpie (3)

Mallard (26)                       Meadow Pipit (8)

Moorhen (2)                      Raven (1)

Reed Bunting (6)                 Robin (21)

Skylark (5)                        Song Thrush (2)

Willow Warbler (7)              Woodpigeon (12)

Wren (10)

Please note: All events and meetings have been cancelled or postponed until further notice due to the restrictions being imposed with respect to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


 Saturday 18th March 2020


BWHEG will be holding their annual AGM on Tuesday 4th February 6:00pm.

It will be held at Blaenavon World Heritage Centre.


 Saturday 19th January 2020

 Saturday 9th December 2019

We just received this Certificate Of Appreciation in the post from TCBC.

Well done all!

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 Saturday 2nd December 2019


We welcomed two 'visitors' from Varteg on our last guided walk of the year, "Hidden Forgeside". A short but varied walk with many reminders of Blaenavon's industrial past and plenty of wildlife. Features included Aaron Brute's bridge, a mystery installation above Forge Pond and, of course, the railway.

Do join us again in the spring when our walks start again. In 2020, they'll be on the last Sunday of each month.


 Tuesday 19th November 2019


Well done all!

So proud to receive the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations' Silver "Go Wildlife!" award on behalf of all the BWHEG volunteers' amazing work.



 Sunday 20th October 2019

October has been an awful month for outdoor activities. 

Members will already know that several of the tasks that were planned for October were cancelled.  

Taking the weather into consideration there will be limited opportunities for BWHEG volunteers to get out and about over the Winter months so, if you can,  please support the remaining planned guided walks.


 Friday 27th September 2019


Despite the horrendous weather earlier in the day the event went ahead as planned.

Unfortunately, no-one told the moths and bats!

It was nice to see people turn out for the event though and, hopefully, they went away with more knowledge about bats and moths than they had when they arrived.

 Monday 16th September 2019

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Today we were out clearing back the brambles and other invasive vegetation from around the Engine Pits site.

Whilst brambles, etc may be good for wildlife the doing nothing but damage to mortar and brickwork.

There was a good turnout of volunteers and it was lovely and sunny.

Thanks everyone! It looks so much better.

 Sunday 4th August 2019

August's wetland Bird Survey update -

This year's juvenile water birds are thriving - now six well-grown Tufted Ducklings and two Little Grebe chicks on the top lake and two young Coot on the fishing pond. High overhead a flock of five Swifts which will soon be on their way. Some of the national invasion of Painted Lady butterflies around the reserve and many stripy Cinnabar Moth caterpillars feeding on Ragwort.

 Friday 2nd August 2019


Out today repairing a vandalised fingerpost on the Human Endeavours Trail. Drilling new dowel holes and replacing the blade.

 Tuesday 25th June 2019

 Tuesday 25th June 2019


Out on the Blorenge with volunteers creating scrapes and leaving gravel for the red grouse.

 Sunday 16th June 2019


A blustery morning for this month's Wetlands Bird Survey at Garn Lakes.

Canada Goose 18 plus 10 goslings
Mallard 28 plus 3 ducklings and one white domestic (some starting to moult into eclipse plumage)
Tufted Duck 1
Cormorant 1
Little Grebe 1
Coot 9
Moorhen 1
Also one Herring Gull and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls over.
Other birds included 4 Reed Buntings, Lesser Redpoll, Buzzard and Kestrel. Plus one Burnet Companion moth.

 Saturday 25th May 2019

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The evening bat & nightjar walk started at 9:15pm and despite cool, breezy weather, a successful evening for five BWHEG members. We started with Swifts screeching around the town centre and a Cormorant flying high overhead. Up on Llanover Road we picked up the weird sound of Nightjars churring and saw a couple of bats, probably Pipistrelles. We also met a local resident hunting a Pokemon but this unfortunately is beyond BWHEG’s capacity. The International Space Station put in an appearance before we returned to the town centre for a further bat check but drew a blank here.
We will be organising another bat walk around Garn Lakes later in the summer

 Sunday 19th May 2019


While walking around the Garn Lakes checking on the breeding birds we checked out some of BWHEGs nestboxes and look what we found. These nest boxes are not only being used to rear chicks but they are home to tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) too.

 Sunday 5th May 2019

Dawn Chorus Guided Walk - dry but a little chilly at 6:30am.

Several enthusiastic people joined the local birdwatcher around the town and Forgeside Community Woodlands to see how many birds could be identified by sight or sound. 

There were a total of 24 species recorded including:

  • House Sparrow

  • Jackdaw

  • Jay (1)

  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (3)

  • Magpie (1)

  • Mallard (2)

  • Nuthatch (1)

  • Robin

  • Song Thrush (1)

  • Willow Warbler (3)

  • Woodpigeon

  • Wren

  • Blackbird
  • Blackcap (6)
  • Blue Tit
  • Bullfinch (1)
  • Carrion Crow
  • Chaffinch (2)
  • Chiffchaff (1)
  • Collared Dove (1)
  • Dunnock (5)
  • Goldfinch (2)
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker (2)
  • Great Tit

 Saturday 27th April 2019

Milfraen Pits Guided Walk - dry but very, very windy walk just as Storm Hannah was hitting the west coast.  The group walked about 10km (6 miles) from the World Heritage Centre to Waunavon and then returned via a mountain road past the Whistle Inn back to the start.  The route passed the Milfraen and Red Ash collieries.

Apart from the very strong winds it was a glorious day with Skylarks singing high in the sky.

Milfraen Pits Guided Walk - dry but very, very windy walk just as Storm Hannah was hitting the west coast.  The group walked about 10km (6 miles) from the World Heritage Centre to Waunavon and then returned via a mountain road past the Whistle Inn back to the start.  The route passed the Milfraen and Red Ash collieries.

Apart from the very strong winds it was a glorious day with Skylarks singing high in the sky.

Sunday 6th April 2019


Sorry for the short notice but the next task will be on Friday 12th April.

Meet at Blaenavon World Heritage Centre before going to Coity Tips.

The task involves clearing unwanted vegetation and removal of invasive trees and bushes. 


Sunday 31st March 2019


We've had a busy weekend with 2 guided walks!

Yesterday there was the "Spring Is Sprung" walk up to the Blaenafon Community Woodlands to look for signs of spring, including bluebells, and other wild flowers. There were chiff chaffs singing and 3 diferent types of butterfly were spotted - Peacock, Tortoiseshell and Brimstone.

Today the guided walk visited the Blorenge to undertake monitoring of the Red Grouse on the mountain. A tape recording of grouse calls was played to elicit a responses from male birds in the area. 6 male grouse were heard calling and 1 female was seen. 

Thanks to everyone who came out with us.


Thursday 7th March 2019

Please note that the March Wetlands Bird Survey has been brought forward to Sunday 17th March. There will be no survey on Sunday 24th March.


Monday 25th February 2019

Please note that the litter pick planned for Saint David's Day 1st March has been postponed until the 19th April.

In previous years the Keep Wales Tidy Spring Clean event has been in early March but this year it is later so we have moved our scheduled litter pick to coincide with KWT events

Saturday 23rd February 2019

A very good turnout for our first walk of 2019 and what a beautiful day too. 

The sun was shining, catkins were hanging from the trees and there was frog spawn in the streams and even in a puddle!

The walk started at the World Heritage Centre and progressed through the Garn Lakes Nature Reserve to the Whistle Inn before returning to the start point via Coity Tip.

The route for this walk can be found at

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Monday 11th February 2019

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Just a few shots of the bags of rubbish collected in 2.5 hours this morning. 

BWHEG volunteers were working with Thom Board from Keep Wales Tidy to try and tidy the Afon Llwyd riverbanks and surrounding areas where the river passes through Blaenavon.

A lot of rubbish was removed from the bottom of St. Peter's Churchyard. Mainly nearby the gaps in the fence where people take shortcuts through the graveyard.

There were 41 bags in total plus other junk taken away by Torfaen County Borough Council.

Well done & thank you to all who helped.

Saturday 26th January 2019

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Seven volunteers attended an "Armchair Archaeology" training course organised by BWHEG and Black Mountain Archaeology.  It was a good day with lots of ideas thrown into the mixing pot for future investigation.

Tuesday 22nd January 2019

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Here are two enthusiastic volunteers (and the man behind the camera), braving the Blorenge weather. From sunshine to a five minute blizzard and back to sunshine in -0.5 degrees. The fingerpost had to be replaced as it was vandalised

Sunday 20th January 2019

Guided Walks will begin again 23rd February.

Take a look at our What's On page for the latest information.

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Sunday 13th January 2019

First outing this year for the monthly Wetland Bird Survey. Here are the results that will be submitted for the core count

Canada Goose   20

Mallard                 25 (incl 2 domestic)

Tufted Duck        1 (male)

Coot                      10

Herring Gull        1 (flew over) 

The Goosanders have been notable for their absence, though they’ve been about on other local ponds… 

Perhaps more will turn up if winter does! 

The next survey is scheduled for 10 February.

Monday 10th December

Looking forward to our member's annual Christmas walk and meal.

This year we will be walking along the NCN492 cycle route through the lovely countryside around Wainfelin and Abersychan before enjoying a Christmas lunch at The Little Crown.

Wednesday 5th December 2018

Unfortunately, due to inclement weather , the annual cleaning of nest boxes around Garn Lakes and adjacent areas has been postponed.  This task will be rescheduled in the new year.

Monday 26th November 2018

Sterling effort this morning!

Despite the cold weather the volunteers were out cutting back invasive willow on the Garn Lakes reed bed s.

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New members are welcome to join any time.

You can download an application form by clicking here and sending the completed form to


Or email if you would like to attend a taster activity with us first.

Blaenavon World Heritage Environment Group

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