Autumn is no exception as far as wildlife is concerned. In fact this is my favourite time of year. The sunlight is low and bright illuminating the wonderful cliffs and heathland. Red Admirals, Tortoiseshells and Peacocks are still in flight – catch one as it lands and you may be lucky to see their wonderful red, blue and yellow patterns close up! The Peacock butterfly over-winters as an adult butterfly before emerging the following spring. If its disturbed whilst hibernating it can produce a hissing sound with its wings! Also of the small variety we have had a few sightings of oil beetles. This beetle is particularly interesting due to its bizarre life cycle. The female will lay her eggs next to nesting solitary mining bees. Once the eggs have hatched the larvae will climb to the top a flower and wait for a bee to land there…if lucky they will attach themselves to the bee and be taken to the bee’s nest where they then gorge on eggs and pollen becoming bigger and bigger until they pupate and then emerge as adult beetles! Fascinating! You can help conserve this beetle by taking part in a buglife oil beetle survey. If you see one then take a picture and go to www.buglife.org.uk for more information.
As the weather has been so invitingly warm we have had a few last views of the elusive adder basking in the sun. It won't be long of course before they will hibernate for the winter, but just before doing so they will often bask with their scaly body splayed out flat to absorb as much heat as they can. Mark, our people engagement assistant, is particularly fond of reptiles and managed to spot an adult female adder coiled on the heath along the side of the path. Good find!
This time of year bring our migratory birds also and I have been fortunate in spotting some Redwings near Plas Nico in a flock of 10 or more. They will often roost and feed together in large sociable groups such as this feeding on berries and fruit that have fallen to the ground.
What are we up to on the resereve? Well sadly we have had to say goodbye to a few members of our team including Kerry and Amy who are back to their studies and Jenny who will be looking for opportunities elsewhere to further her career in conservation! Goodluck! Mark is doing a grand job taking care of events and people engagement up at the Café – for more information about events and activities coming up take a look at our webpage which will be updated regularly.
Another very important member of our team has been busy up on the mountain in all weathers. Peter Godfrey and his two dogs are currently looking after a flock of 75 sheep as part of a heathland restoration initiative at Mynydd Twr. He has a mixed flock of Hebridean, Black faced and traditional Welsh Torddu sheep. RSPB Cymru, Isle of Anglesey County Council, CCW, AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and the Anglesey Grazing Animal Partnership all support the close shepherding project. Close shepherding is still practiced in Europe and is now popular with conservation grazing in the UK. Pete makes sure his flock are kept close together so he can monitor them and ensure they are safe. The sheep provide excellent feeding conditions for choughs, insects and other wildlife as they remove old heather and therefore encourage new growth. This essentially improves the condition of the heathland as it creates a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Being friendly and enthusiastic, Pete is happy to chat to anyone that passes him on the hill, and with his wealth of experience and knowledge would be more than happy to answer any questions.
South Stack is now beginning to feel the cold grip of winter. But with it we have had beautiful crisp clear mornings that reveal the impressive Snowdonia moutain range and Llyn peninsular hills to the south.
Wildlife is wonderful too. Everything seems to be flocking together…including the sheep of course! I have watched as the Starlings rise, fall, twist and turn in perfect synchronized formation. The Jackdaws have been doing it aswell and impressive they are too with their agile mastered flight. These birds have come together from up in the mountains to feed lower down where it is less exposed to the winter elements. Surprisingly we have had regular sightings of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the area – this is unusual as predominantly this is a woodland species! Here we have few trees, but instead plenty of telegraph poles and man made structures in which they can nest. Fingers crossed it will stay! Another surprise visitor has been the snow bunting. These pretty looking birds have, as the name suggests, a lot of white on the wings and chest and are quite jittery when they feed on the ground but be careful and you can get quite close! They are migrants, coming from all round the Arctic Circle – lets hope they have a good winter here..
The Chough and Raven can be seen also, the two species of crow I never tire of seeing. If the sheep are about on the hill you may be lucky to see the chough feeding near by. They enjoy the disturbance that the sheep create on the ground and will snatch up all the insects that live there. Kestrels and Peregrines have been seen regularly also. Peter, our shepherd told me he quite often sees the peregrine when on the heathland near North Stack!
If you come to our Café there may be a member of staff that can help you to spot wildlife such as Chough feeding in the fields opposite. Whilst your enjoying a brew you may also see many other species of birds that have perhaps come to investigate our new bird feeder put up just yesterday. This is in preparation for our Feed The Birds event coming up this Thursday 28th and Friday 29th. Come and see for yourself and enjoy the warmth, friendly welcome and beautiful scenery.