A new year can bring many new things, but one guarantee is that the weather is still unpredictable. On Sunday, I decided to take a walk along the Purple Trail to both stretch my legs and see what is out and about at the moment. A sunny afternoon was forecast so I didn’t arrive until after lunch, and there was a glimmer of sunshine as I drove around the lake in the form of a rainbow over a rough, choppy lake.

Stormy lake by Gavin Chambers

Parking at the northern end of the trail, I first walked along the forest track past the locked white gate. Once through the first section of wood it opens out on the right with views over the lake and on to the rocky valley side on the opposite side. A scan of the crags revealed an adult peregrine sitting on one of its favourite spots. Earlier in the week the pair had been quite vocal, signs they are starting to re-establish their pair bonding.

Peregrine cliff by Gavin Chambers

Heading back into denser conifer plantation the occasional tweet would come from the above. Both coal tit and goldcrest were heard and seen feeding on insects among the conifer needles. Once into a mixed woodland more birds made themselves heard with a large mixed flock of long-tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, treecreeper and nuthatch, some feeding in the wet leaf litter in a ditch running along the edge of the track.

A jay flicking across the path nearly had me tripping over a fox crawling across the path in front of me. It’s not quite what you might expect as it was small and hairy and being blown along the track. It was a fox moth caterpillar, which should be hibernating as a caterpillar but has presumably been woken up by some warmer weather. The name fox moth, comes from the colour of the male moth being a foxy-red/brown colour.

Fox moth caterpillar on Purple Trail by Gavin Chambers

Once back on the lakeside road, I was keeping an eye out for flocks of brambling feeding on beech mast under the beech trees as a few flocks have been seen along this stretch in the last few weeks. Sadly I didn’t come across any, but this week a flock of 60+ has been seen near the Lakeside hide and some near Llechwedd-du picnic site. A quick stop at the Lakeside hide revealed about 50 teal, 3 little grebe, 19 mallard and there had been 3 mandarin when I first drove around the lake. Despite the forecast it remained damp throughout my walk and walking into the wind made it hard to pick up bird calls but I did get plenty of fresh air!

Other sightings in the new year have included, goshawk over Lakeside Hide, crossbill behind RSPB shop, dipper on stream by Centenary Hide and kingfisher from hide, snipe and red grouse flushed from moorland and a kestrel hunting along the Bala road.

Gavin Chambers, Warden

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