Creatures of the Night – The Great Orme Llandudno

During the last light of day, when the trams stand silently in their sheds and most walkers have hung up their boots, the Great Orme reawakens and is filled with the sounds and smells of the creatures of the night.

As the last glimmer of light lingers over the grassy slopes, many animals emerge from their dens and begin foraging in the undergrowth. With the eerie glow of dusk comes the Fox, who will head straight towards the old min cottages, drawn by the scent of discarded food in people’s dustbins.

Deep beneath the Orme lie a maze of tunnels and caverns, where only a very specialised forms of life are able to exist. Some cave pools support small communities of Niphargus. These are small blind shrimps which live in total darkness and feed on organic matter floating in the water.

The Cave Spider hangs motionless on a few strands of web, waiting for a passing meal, while Gnats and Craneflies spend the winter hibernating in these passages, sheltered from the wind and rain.

The rare Horseshoe Bat is another animal which lives in this dark inhospitable world. This small flying mammal finds its way through tunnels by using echo location, which is produced by making a series of rapid sound pulses. These sounds hit the walls and bounce back, giving the Bat a mental picture of its surroundings.

During the daytime, Horseshoe Bats congregate in large numbers, and wings tightly wrapped around their furry bodies, they suspend themselves from the roof of the tunnel by their toes. Only at dusk will the Bats venture into the outside world, emerging from cave entrances and old mine shafts, to feed on a variety of Beetles and night flying Moths.

During the twilight hours, Mice and Shrews begin to gorge themselves grubs and insects. These small rodents make equally easy prey for the sharp eyed Tawny Owl.

Carnivorous animals, such as the Toad, Hedgehog and Badger take advantage of the night, by melting into the shadows and lurking in darkened corners ready to spring out at the first sign of potential food.

As dawn breaks, a swirling mist envelops the countryside and the solitary Blackbird whistles a melodious tune. This signals the start of a new day, and almost immediately, the ear splitting dawn chorus goes in to full swing. This sudden burst of activity and tremendous noise, drives the nocturnal animals back to the quiet of their warm, dark dens, where they will rest and prepare themselves for another busy night on the slopes of the Great Orme Head.

Reproduced from the booklet
‘The Great Orme Llandudno’s Mountain’ by P. Bardell and T. Parry.
Illustrations by E. Parry