Saturday 23 October 2010

The Moelwyn Mountain Lion

I’d heard talk of a mountain lion roaming the Moelwyns and of a panther like creature crossing the road at Coed y Brenin. Then I saw a squirrel sliced in two by Campbell’s Platform. A day later a full grown ewe disembowelled near the bridge into the loop at Dduallt. Who would be next?

The ewe looked as though she might have been pounced upon as she walked beneath the bridge then dragged into the bracken for eating. Her stomach was gone with half a dozen bare ribs sticking out but there was plenty of meat on the woolly legs and shoulders. The killer would be back.

With vain hope and little patience we sat in a hide, lenses on tripods, as dusk approached. Nothing, apart from a startled walker. Thoughts of our own supper prevailed so we packed and went home.

By cover of dark we walked back with stealth taking a wide detour to arrive downwind. The rub of dry bracken on goretex so much louder than on fur. Approaching the bridge, our cameras on, ready to flash, but all to be seen was the dead sheep.

Walking home, chatting away, I saw a flash at the foot of a cliff. We both pointed our torches and looked into a steely pair of eyes staring back, unblinking from behind gorse. A few seconds later the beast turned, started to run and .....

The bushy tail of a fox was plain to see. It perched on a ledge, looked down on us then took off upwards across the bracken strewn meadow. And there were the eyes again, even with low power torches we could pick them out a hundred metres away.

I stayed put with my beam in its eyes while Haydn approached to within 20 metres, the fox sitting on a stone wall and then, after several minutes, it disappeared into the night. The eyes more arrogant, blue and unblinking than those of a sheep, less round and maybe closer together.

No mountain lion this time and I suspect the half squirrel had ignored the signs to ‘Stop Look and Listen’ before crossing the Ffestiniog.


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