Winter approaches the Glaslyn Valley

A familiar route once again but the first time in over a season’s length. I turn through the narrow gateway and over the cattle grid. The trees start to enclose as I make my way down through the wood once more. The winding, rising and dipping track has a new surface of fallen leaves and small twigs as autumn comes to a close. The summer shade has melted away and left naked, bent and twisted branches reaching out and interlocking over the narrow way. The vibrant green of the earlier months has gone and there is a new richness to the scene with the rusting bracken providing a foundation to the ambers, oranges and reds in the trees. However, the colours of the peak of a bright effervescent autumn are fading to the last drops of the season. Out on the wet meadows, with decaying dampness in the air, the dark, brooding clouds are letting a few drops of fine rain fall onto the ground as I approach the gate, crossing the grass that now has a touch of yellow. The site is almost silent now and would be but for a few calls of a chaffinch and a light breeze in the woods. The tops of the surrounding hills and mountains are covered in low mist, partly shrouding their purple-hinted rises. In the distance, what must be out above the sea, the suppressing clouds are parting and a brighter light is beginning to emerge but I have to leave and won’t see the land under a more vibrant autumn sun. Across the river and the low field, there stands a tree empty of the summer’s focus. Now long gone, it is like the family was never here but the nest lies up there, without its owners but ready for their return, just marking time through the long, cold and dark winter months.

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Well, I lied in a post back in July, that I wouldn’t see that old track again until next spring. I just had to go back; to see the valley at another time, a quieter time, a more sombre and more moody time. The Glaslyn Valley is so different from the height of the summer but just as beautiful and it’s a pity I couldn’t make a visit at the height of the autumn colours. The life in the valley was certainly of the season with jays calling from the woods, ravens cronking as they drifted across the sky and redwings ‘seeeeping’ on their journey through. The only fresh signs of life were new blooms on the gorse, while all other flowers have long gone from the fields, woods and field margins.

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After blogging over the spring and summer, I wanted to make a visit to the valley in the autumn or winter, so I could see and show how it changes through the colder months and seasons. With a meeting for public interest company that runs the osprey project planned for yesterday, a trip across had a dual purpose – to see the valley when the ospreys aren’t there and to keep up to date on plans for next year.

The meeting highlighted just how much great work the company and its volunteers have done over the past year and revealed some very promising plans for next. In all, over the last 12 months, nearly 5,500 volunteer hours have been put into running the project, from re-establishing both the viewing and protection sites, to all the hours put in watching over the nest and showing visitors views of the ospreys. Almost starting from scratch, it is simply amazing what this small group of volunteers has achieved over the past 12 months. Taking over the running of the project from a huge national charity was a daunting task and I’m sure others would have failed, and yes, there have been difficulties on the way. However, they have achieved what they have set out to do and now have plans to build on this and make next year even greater. There are proposals for a new visitor centre which should be open seven days per week during the breeding season, and the nest will be protected 24 hours a day while the risk to the ospreys, their eggs and eventually their chick persist.

Next year, they will need even more volunteers and more volunteer hours to ensure success, and yes, I will be back, hopefully doing some night shifts and maybe there might be a few blog posts too!

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