Sunday, 15 May 2011

Forget Galapagos, come to Ffestiniog!

As well as steam trains the Vale of Ffestiniog offers spectacular wildlife and nature. Sea trout and salmon on the Afon Dwyryd and if you’re lucky you might see an otter. 

On either side of the valley Atlantic oakwoods or Celtic rainforest, more scarce than tropical rainforests and every bit as special with magnificent lichens, liverworts and slime molds. Redstarts and pied flycatchers arrived a few weeks ago. Right now the woods are blooming with bluebells and wild goats stepping carefully so as not to squash them.

Abandoned slate mines make perfect roosts for many species of bat such as the ‘lesser horseshoes’. ICI's explosives factory, Gwaith Powdwr, in which 17 million grenades were made is now a nature reserve where later this month you can hear the nightjars. Llechwedd Slate Caverns has nesting choughs.

We might have pine martens but are struggling to prove it. Ospreys returned to the area in 2004 and this year’s chicks recently hatched. Up in the mountains ravens and buzzards patrol the skies with the occasional red kite. Moths galore, last summer a holiday maker recorded 180 different species during his weeklong stay. Along the coast you might see bottlenose dolphins, porpoise, grey seals or maybe even a leatherback turtle – some years ago a turtle the size of a mini was washed up on Harlech beach and now sits in the National Museum of Wales.

Woodpeckers in early June with their nests precision drilled into the oaks.

Forget Galapagos, come to Ffestiniog! This is home to Ivor the Engine and Idris the dragon. What's more we've got a live wolf!

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