Biology Field Trip to Betws y Coed, North Wales

After only one day  back at school, the Upper Sixth biologists travelled to North Wales for the Ecology Fieldtrip. We have used the Drapers’ Field Centre at Betws y Coed, run by the Field Studies Council for many years and have never been disappointed by the quality of teaching and facilities that they provide.

Dr Madden and Mrs Corrigan sent updates daily. The most recent post is at the top of the page.

Monday 11th September – the last day!

A grey start to Sunday found the girls visiting Cwm Idwal, the first National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Wales and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) where we studied the management and conservation of rare habitats. After a morning in the mountains, we travelled to Penmon Point and here the girls completed their second required practical; an investigation into the relationship between the length and the width of limpets on the middle shore and higher up at the top of the shore.

Sunday 10th September (Continued)

The girls spent today in and around the centre conducting two different studies on invertebrates found in the river Conwy. The day started with the girls up to their ankles in the river sampling the invertebrates found in water of different velocities followed by some obligatory stone-skimming!

The girls worked with enthusiasm despite the drizzly conditions and were able to collect a large number of different invertebrate species. The samples they collected were brought back to the classroom where the girls successfully identified the different invertebrates present using microscopes and taxonomic keys.

The girls then looked at whether some of the invertebrate species they had collected showed a preference for light or dark conditions using choice chambers. Both of these investigations required the girls to carry out statistical analysis and they coped well with a day full of maths!

The girls also spent time planning their own investigations to be carried out on the rocky shore at Penmom tomorrow which has involved choosing their own equipment, selecting an appropriate method and carrying out a risk assessment.

The girls remain in high spirits, although tiredness is beginning to set in, and they are looking forward to sending the day at the coast before getting back to Manchester tomorrow evening.

Sunday 10th September

A few pictures from today – a report will be added later. As you can see the group are investigating the river today, and they seem to have caught many creatures, including a ‘faerie’ sheep!

Saturday 9th September

Having looked at the weather forecast, we all set off for Harlech this morning with bags full of waterproofs and multiple layers of fleece. However, other than a couple of light passing showers, we spent the day in very pleasant sunshine. The girls were able to study how plant species diversity changes from the front of the sand dune system across to the back, a process which has taken over 500 years to complete, but we could observe within a couple of hours. The girls also collected abiotic data which they will now use to try to explain the changes that occur through succession and hence the reasons for the changes in plant diversity. In all it has been a really lovely day out in the sunshine in the sand dunes and the girls have as always, been excellent company.

Biology Field Trip 2017



Friday 8th September (continued)

After a showery start to Friday morning, by the time we had walked across the road and into the ancient woodland, the weather had begun to clear. The only showers we had after that were from the water drops falling from the tree leaves rather than from the rain.

Split into two groups, the girls all walked through the woods making comparisons between the two very different ecosystems of an ancient deciduous woodland and a conifer plantation. They completed two investigations to observe the vertical zonation of moss species from the base of a tree upwards and secondly to compare the distribution and percentage cover of three different lichen growth forms on oak and birch trees.

Having collected ivy leaves from the woods, the girls then used these to study the population dynamics of the holly leaf miner back in the classrooms.

We were grateful for the freshly made cake on our return which sustained us all until dinner time. Dinner was excellent as always and the girls then made their way back to the labs for an evening session of data analysis and statistical techniques. We finished the evening with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday and chocolate cake for our two birthday girls, Sejal and Bronya.

Today we have woken up to more rain and we are hoping that at Harlech the sun will be shining as we study the succession of sand dunes.


Morning: Astonishingly the weather has cleared and we can see blue sky and some sunshine. We have all enjoyed a substantial breakfast and the girls have all made packed lunches for the day.

Friday 8th September

Our first job this morning has been to check the small mammal traps and see what has been caught. Disappointingly and probably because of the weather last night, it would appear that most of the small mammals had sensibly stayed at home and not wandered around the grounds and into our traps. However, we did catch two – one very jumpy mouse and one vole. Both have been much admired, photographed and named by the girls and have now been set free back into the centre grounds.

Today the groups will undertake three investigations in the ancient deciduous woodland of Coed Hafod which is across the road from the centre. They will use a range of ecological and statistical techniques to collect and analyse their data. Fingers crossed that the weather stays fine!

Thursday 7th September

Thirty-nine girls set off after school travelling to North Wales for the annual Biology Field Trip. Unfortunately the weather forecast was not encouraging and we had advised the girls to bring a full set of waterproofs. For once the forecast was accurate and the rain in Manchester followed us all the way to North Wales and became torrential over-night. Having got over the disappointment of no mobile phone signal at the centre, the girls quickly settled in!

An excellent first night meal with a choice of curries followed by sticky toffee pudding, the girls were all in good cheer as they started the first evening session and introduction to the course. In an attempt to estimate the population of small mammals in the centre grounds, the girls set out Longworth small mammal traps before finishing for the evening.