January 11th- (after the seal-watch)
The Grey Seals seemed to have put on as much of a show as they were going to for the time being and it was cold sitting on my rocky perch on the cliffside. It was a bright sunny day, but until now the bay had been held in the shade by the bulk of the headland and as the sun was only just beginning to highlight the tallest of the rocks below, it was move on or seize up.
Jackdaws are resident here on the Little Orme and nest colonially up on the cliff above Angel Bay. Outside the breeding season they continue to use the nesting-site as a roost, gathering back there in the late afternoon-early evening, but are a frequent sight throughout the reserve at most times of the day. Sometimes they are on their own or in pairs but often they congregate in small flocks that forage on the flattened grassy clifftop or fly around calling to one another. Like all corvids they are characterful birds with glossy black feathers but are easily distinguished by their grey head and steely ice-blue eyes.
In need of some proper exercise I had already decided that the only way was up today, so I turned towards the steep uphill track of ‘Rabbit Hill’. At the bottom a Robin was feeding on the muddy grass and close by in a sheltered spot amongst the shrubbery a Dunnock was enjoying the sunshine.
Last summer I was fit enough to walk up here without stopping for breath, but that was then and from past experience I anticipated today’s effort would require a minimum of two stops! Fortunately, when you have a camera in your hand you can stop and turn round and take a photograph as and when necessary, appearing to be capturing the view whilst waiting for your heart to stop pounding.
I love this view, which has Penrhyn Bay immediately below, then Colwyn Bay behind the finger of land that is Rhos Point.
I managed to reach the top of the track with just one more stop, which I would have made anyway (!) to photograph some golden gorse which is already quite well advanced in its flowering.
Gorse – Ulex europaeus is the first shrub to brighten the winter months with its sunshine-yellow blossom. I love its coconut scent.
I carried on the uphill track, which was quite damp, muddy and slippery in places. The limestone was not quarried higher up (in case it spoilt the view from the Llandudno side) and forms craggy walls and ridges which are the domain of the Ravens. There was one there today, sitting with his back turned, perhaps soaking up some warmth from the sun. I love to see and hear the deep, croaking calls of these big black birds up here, their presence makes the place seem wilder, higher and more expansive than it really is.
Up nearer the summit is a grassy area where you often encounter grazing sheep, but none today. Looking over the cliff edge here you are seeing the rocky headland on the other side of which is Angel Bay. This is a place favoured by Cormorants at certain times of the year and I was quite disappointed that there wasn’t a single one there today. The most exciting thing I could come up with here today was a mushroom! It was nicely lit by the sun though.
Whatever you see or don’t see here really doesn’t matter once you climb one more short slope and have the full expanse of the view across Llandudno Bay in front of you.
The town of Llandudno with its elegant Victorian facade sweeps around the curve of the bay and is sheltered by the bulk of the headland that is the Great Orme.
In case you’re interested, I’ve put this next photo in that I took from the Great Orme looking towards the Little Orme. This unspoilt side must look similar to how ‘our’ side would have been before it was quarried.
Up here on this side of the headland it was much colder and exposed to the full force of the wind so I didn’t hang around admiring the wonderful views for long, but did turn around to take one last photograph of ‘our’ side of the Little Orme from this higher vantage point before heading back down.