Just when you thought we had winter firmly rooted in the rear view mirror, back it comes with a vengeance. It’s been cold here all week but yesterday hit a new low with the temperature barely struggling above zero. This resulted in a couple of unexpected snow flurries and some impressive ice structures wherever water had been still enough to freeze.
These frozen puddles lined the path around the lower Lliw Reservoir and were the only places where snow had managed to settle, however briefly. Out on the water the largest gull roost I have ever seen here consisted of fifty three Lesser Black Backed Gulls and twenty eight Herring Gulls. It’ll be interesting to find out if this was a one off gathering, a winter occurrence or the start of something more permanent. Either way it was good to see and rather overshadowed the only other birds present, a very vocal Canada Goose and several Mallards.
The surrounding trees added a little more variety with a calling Nuthatch, perched Sparrowhawk and an overflying Mistle Thrush all putting in appearances. It wasn’t until we reached the more open ground between the two reservoirs though that the big hitters arrived with a pair of Ravens, three Buzzards and a single Red Kite all drifting over in quick succession. With huge icicles hanging off the old quarry faces it came as a surprise to find large quantities of frogspawn filling the ditches that line the track. Clearly the weather had not been kind to the upper most layers, but it looks as though the material further down should escape unscathed.
Speaking of icicles it wasn’t just the quarries that were well adorned. The small stream that runs down through the valley had one entire bank completely coated in ice. I tried my best to capture the scene but under difficult lighting conditions I just couldn’t produce anything to my liking. Instead I went in for some details which included these ice ‘columns’. A new one on me.
Reaching the upper reservoir handily coincided with a slight increase in temperature as my fingers felt like they were literally about to drop off. Definitely not the conditions for holding a camera. On the water all seemed quiet until I spotted a distant duck diving. Moving around the lake it soon became apparent that it was a female Goldeneye fishing right next to, and most likely under, a frozen section of water.
The combination of bird and ice was too good an opportunity to miss so we decided to try and make a closer approach using a shall we say, less well trodden path. At first this seemed like a stroke of genius as we stumbled across some interesting ruins that I’ve never seen before, but then one wrong step had Emma sunk up to her knees in a bog. This was all very funny until it became apparent that she was stuck fast. Fortunately via a combination of digging and pulling we eventually had her out with one considerably muddier and wetter boot still attached. Not quite what I’d planned and as a result I never did get any better views of that Goldeneye.