The seasons have slipped back a notch or two with snow again on the mountains, though sunshine, showers and sleet are probably typical of March. The trout season began last Saturday but despite good past season opening days the mountain lakes have proved barren to date, waters probably still too cold after a hard winter for either cold blooded trout or their insect food.
Casting into a sheltered bay, insistent ‘bleeps’ came from several points on the steep mountainside behind. A pale line appeared drawn on still waters along the shore, too hesitant for trout, formed not by fins but amphibian eyes cutting the surface. Fishing systematically along the shore, first one, then dozens, then many hundreds of toads were spotted in shallow bays: all shades, from almost black, through browns and rust to black-blotched, chalky pale fawn. Most sat on the lake floor in characteristic, arm bent pose; a few crawled slowly over the gravel bottom or breast-stroked carefully down from the surface; one mass of toads clawed determinedly over each other in a cold clammy ball. The only spawn found was not delicate, jelly strings of black dots hung by toads but a single gelatinous clump in shallow water laid by frogs.
As we packed to leave, a dark scimitar silhouette detached from the rocky crag overhead, moving under pale skies on wings stiff with power; Peregrine prospecting an old nest site.
Saturday saw a sleek, masked bird flitting from sheep grazed pasture to dry stone wall and back; first Wheatear of the year, just a week after the first Chiffchaff.
Yesterday evening, several thin slivers of black skimmed & flickered back and forth, low over a tidal pool as we drove by, occasional flash of white undersides suggesting first Swallows rather than brown and buff Sand Martins.
Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk