One of the most beautiful sights to have ever met my eyes was Llyn Fach on a frosty February morning.
As I walked up the footpath that led to the lake, every step created a crunch underfoot. I noticed fox footprints frozen into the ground. The sky was a clear blue with smudges of cloud, and the only sounds were of running water and birdsong. As I came into view of Llyn Fach, the sun was peeking out from behind the top of the cliffs beyond the lake, and the rays of sunlight were hitting the powdery snow on the frozen surface of the lake and scattering rainbows in all directions. In the stream icicles like slivers of crystal hung suspended on blades of grass over the icy cold water.
Llyn Fach is one of our newest nature reserves and is the southernmost montane lake in the British Isles. The lake sits at the base of towering cliffs and scree slopes, and is surrounded by a mosaic of marshy grassland, bog and heathland, bordered by plantation forestry. During the warmer months Dragonflies and Damselflies skim the lake surface and sunbathe on strands of rush. Frogs, Toads and Newts can be uncovered in the bog, along with signs of the elusive Water Vole. You can often spot the tell-tale spraint of Otters on tufts of grass around the fringes of the lake and hear (if not see) Coot, Little Grebe, or even a Cuckoo.
Lorna Baggett, The Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Trust Officer for the Rhondda has described a particularly beautiful day that she witnessed over the winter ...
On this particular wintery morning, I was joined by volunteers to help with habitat management on the nature reserve. We have been removing conifer regeneration and reducing the spread of bramble, both of which could become detrimental to the habitat if they became established. As we worked quietly in the increasing warmth of the sunshine, I lifted my head to discover a fox trotting along the footpath that leads to the lake. It was just the other side of the stream from where we stood, and despite catching sight of us, it continued to walk along the path, stopping occasionally to sniff at the ground. The foxes’ russet coat and long bushy tail (also known as a ‘brush’ or ‘sweep’) becomes denser in the winter, and is shed before the spring, allowing for better temperature control. Still, this fox wasn’t lingering in the cold and lithely trotted away into the forest and out of sight.
It took my breath away to see such a beautiful wild animal also out experiencing this enchanting frosty February morning, and it is a memory that will stay with me for a long time.
by Lorna Baggett, Reserves Officer - Valleys
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