Tag Archives: red squirrels

Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) and a squirrel

Like the red squirrels at Newborough Forest, you’ll often hear crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) before you see them. They crack open the scales of pine cones to get at the seeds within.  You’ll hear the crackling and often see bits of scale and seed falling from the trees. The birds are also quite chatty and talk to each other in a jingly way.

Crossbill male

Crossbill male – blending in well with this rather stressed pine tree

Close by, there was also a red squirrel that scampered to a safe distance to watch.

Red squirrel

 

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A walk to the wishing well – Crochan Llanddwyn

Legend has it that the pool in Newborough Forest known as Crochan Llanddwyn (Llanddwyn’s crock or pot) used to be a wishing well. And more than that, it used to be a fortune telling well, where young lovers would go to learn what the fates had in store for them.

Crochan Llanddwyn: now overgrown by weeds and trees, but popular with newts

Crochan Llanddwyn: now overgrown by weeds and trees, but popular with newts

Crochan Llanddwyn - the old wishing well

Crochan Llanddwyn – the old wishing well

These days, as you can see, it looks a little inauspicious and uninviting. The pool is very neglected and overwhelmed by weeds and algae, and forestry workings have obliterated its original form. Nevertheless, it is still in a lovely place. The pond itself is a good place to see newts. Further along the forest track there are mature Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) which are a favourite place for red squirrels.

Pine trees laden with cones, near Crochan Llanddwyn

Pine trees laden with cones, near Crochan Llanddwyn

You can make a nice circular walk either from Newborough itself, or from the first car park (known as Cwnhingar) along the forest toll road. And maybe it is still worth making a wish as you pass the pool…

The grid reference for the Crochan Llanddwyn is SH40986478 (click here to see the location via gridreferencefinder.com)

The grid reference for Cwnhingar car park is SH4077464097 (here’s the map link). To find the pool, head out of the back of the car park on the main track (through the barrier). Turn right when you meet another track and just keep on that track.  When the main trail sweeps up to the left, keep straight on: you’ll be beside the big old pines then and Crochan Llanddwyn is just a little further on.

Update – April 2014

Many of the trees that had grown in and around the pool, and the ones that had fallen over it, have been cleared and now you can see the pool much more clearly. It looks a bit raw at the moment, but later in the year, it will look beautiful again.

Crochan Llanddwyn after its clean-up, April 2014

Crochan Llanddwyn after its clean-up, April 2014

Newborough squirrels

Newborough is famous (at least locally) for its red squirrels. It isn’t too unusual to see them when walking in the forest. Usually you will actually hear them before you see them: hear their sharp little nails scratching on the tree bark as they scamper away. If you scratch your own nails against the bark, you’ll get an idea of the sound to listen out for.

babysquirrel

Young red squirrel

However, it is unusual for me to either have a camera with me and / or to be able to capture a half-decent photograph of one of our red squirrels. Here’s one of a baby who was too scared to move away. The other is a bit of a cheat as it shows a squirrel in one of the compounds in the forest.

Red squirrel in compound

Red squirrel in compound

(nb that compound is no longer here – it’s quite an old photograph)

If you are visiting and want a good chance of seeing one of the squirrels, the Llyn Parc Mawr car park and picnic area is worth a try (OS GR SH414669).  The squirrels (and birds) are fed there and have become quite confident. It’s best to go early as they make themselves scarce if the car park becomes busy. The Forestry Commission’s information sheet is available here (pdf) which shows the car parks and forest trails etc.