Tag Archives: wildlife

Cycling on the Lon Las Cefni

Two national cycle routes* go across Anglesey: the Lon Las Cefni has been developed to link the two – and then it extends to Newborough, just because it is so nice here.:)

Most of the route is on a dedicated, traffic free, cycle track; there are just short stretches where you have to cross a road or where the route follows a quite lane.

Swans on the Afon Cefni

Swans on the Afon Cefni

For much of the route, the trail follows the straightened Afon Cefni – which looks more like a canal than a river – which is a paradise for water birds (and sometimes falcons, hawks and harriers that eat them).  Alongside the Cefni, between Malltraeth and Llangefni, there are large areas of wetland, much of which is an RSPB reserve, and again, a haven for birds, and also fantastic for wildflowers.

The view towards Llangefni from Pont Marquis Bridge - showing how much like a canal the river looks

The view towards Llangefni from Pont Marquis Bridge – showing how much like a canal the river looks

About six miles from Newborough, the track and the river pass under the A55 dual carriageway – the main route across Wales to Holyhead and on to Ireland.  It seems a bit of a strange place to choose to build a nesting site for sand martins, but that is what has been done. The martins do use the holes provided for them, and they seem to be quite good at dodging the traffic on the road above too…

Martin nest holes

Martin nest holes

It is about 12 miles in total if you follow the cycle route all the way from Newborough to Llyn Cefni.  The route is very clearly signposted with information points along the way.

Lon Las Cefni sign at Pont Bulkeley Bridge

Lon Las Cefni sign at Pont Bulkeley Bridge

lonlascefnisign

There is also a free guide to download from Anglesey Council’s tourism site  or from the Sustrans Lon Las Cefni page.

*the national routes are Nos 5 and 8 which go to Reading and Cardiff respectively (gulp – they’re for serious cyclists!). More information on the national routes is available on the Sustrans website.

Burrowing bees

The burrowing bees were out in force today along the edge of Newborough Forest. The area is renowned for the little Creeping Willow Bee (Colletes cunicularius ssp celticus) and that may be what these are, I’m not too sure about bees…

Burrowing bee, Newborough forest. Possibly Colletes cunicularius

Burrowing bee, Newborough forest. Possibly Colletes cunicularius

Burrowing bee at Newborough Forest

They were certainly behaving very aggressively, bombing earwigs, bumble bees and pill bugs that crossed their path. The small creeping willows (Salix repens var argentea) are just coming into flower and they were buzzing with bees and hoverflies.

A few longhorn moths were also feeding on the willow flowers. These moths have ridiculously long antennae. The moth in this photo was only about 15mm long, but its antennae must have been about 50mm long.

A longhorn moth on a creeping willow catkin. The red line shows the length of its antenna.

A longhorn moth on a creeping willow catkin. The red line shows the length of its antenna.

It was also very nice to see a peacock butterfly. A few of these had ventured out earlier in the year, before the bitterly cold weather of March set in. Hopefully, we really are heading into spring/summer now and today’s butterflies will fare better than those early ones.

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly

 

Froglets galore

Each summer, usually around midsummer’s day, thousands of froglets emerge from the pools and lakes around Newborough. In a good year (for the frogs), walking becomes more like dancing as you try to make your way without stepping on a little froglet.

Froglets on the track by Llyn Parc Mawr - I missed circling one, top left.

Froglets on the track by Llyn Parc Mawr – I missed circling one, top left – they’re not easy to see.

Froglet

Froglet (I’m not even sure that is a word!)

The froglets are so small, a lot of people don’t even notice what is under their feet, you can imagine the consequences…

 

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.