JOUSTING JAYS @ ADEL DAM
On a very hot Wednesday, where temperatures reached a humid 28C, I visited Adel Dam Nature Reserve on the north west outskirts of Leeds, near the airport. To reach the reserve you have to park in the main car park for Golden Acre Park and then walk down to the bottom past the big lake to access the reserve.
Upon reaching the reserve I made my way to the Marsh Hide hoping to see the Kingfisher and after getting my camera ready I settled in to see which birds would pay a visit. There were plenty of Chaffinches, Great Tits and a few Blue Tits coming to the feeders in front of the hide. I then noticed a bird hopping about in the branches on the opposite side of the pond.
It had the size and shape of a Robin but the colours of a Wren and after looking at it through my camera lens and taking a few pictures I could tell that it was a juvenile Robin. The juvenile Robin has none of the red or grey but has more of a mottled brown body.
As the juvenile Robin continued to hop around, the first of 3 juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers arrived at the feeders with the adult female coming to the nut feeder at the far side the pond. The difference between the adult and the juveniles is that Great Spotted Woodpeckers are born with a full Red cap on the top of their head. As they get older they lose the Red cap completely if female, but retain a thin Red band at the back of the head if male.
Then a Jay appeared in the trees to my left. It looked to be eyeing up a piece of bread that had been left on the shelf at the front of the hide in front of me. It kept swooping down but bailing out at the last minute. I kept moving it further and further away and it kept aborting its attempt to take the bread. Eventually, when I had moved it 3 or 4 feet away, the Jay came down and landed, stopped to look at me, got the bread in it's beak and flew off.
A few minutes later the Great Spotted Woodpeckers returned to the feeders closely followed by a Jay. They proceeded to have a squabble over who was going to have first dibs at the feeder, which the Woodpecker won! Once the Woodpecker had finished and flown off the Jay returned with a couple more and the 3 Jays proceeded to fly from feeder to feeder trying to extract the food whilst arguing with each other.
A pair of Stock Doves had been chasing each other back and forth through the trees in front of the hide. They then came down and landed on the big feeder with a Wood Pigeon. One of the Doves kept pecking at the other one and every time it did, "thwack", the Wood Pigeon smacked it on the head with its wing. This happened five or six times before they flew off.
After 90 minutes in the hide, there was still no sign of the Kingfisher. I decided to make my way down to the lake hide and try my luck there. Whilst walking to the next hide a Blackbird flew across in front of me, a Wren hopped from branch to branch and a Red Admiral butterfly fluttered across my path onto some Foxgloves as I reached the hide.
As I looked out from the hide there were Mallards, Tufted Ducks and a couple of Mandarin Ducks out on the lake as well as a juvenile Grey Heron preening itself on the far side of the lake. On the feeders to the left of the hide several Great Tits were besieging the feeders with a Dunnock on the ground. They were soon joined by another juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker and out on the lake a Moorhen appeared from the reeds on the right and the Tufted Ducks swam closer to the hide.
By now it was getting quite hot in the hide, unlike the Marsh Hide, the Lake Hide sits in direct sunlight and can get very hot inside, even with all the windows open. I was going to give up my search for the Kingfisher and go back to the cooler Marsh Hide, when I saw the unmistakable flash of blue and orange going past from left to right. Sadly the bird did not stop, but before I left to go back to the other hide, the Kingfisher gave me another flypast going the opposite way and up over the bank on which the hide sits to its left and off down the stream leading away from the lake.
I then made my way along the path back to the Marsh Hide, seeing two more Blackbirds. Back at the Marsh Hide, the Jays were back at the feeders with the Nuthatches coming back and forth to the feeders. On the pond were four female Mandarin Ducks and a lone Moorhen. The Stock Doves were still chasing each other and a pair of Jackdaws tried to extract food from the feeders.
A few minutes before I left a Grey Heron flew through the gaps in the trees, over the pond and on down towards the lake. Sadly the Kingfisher did not make its way up from the lake and the time came for me to pack up and go home. I have attached my sightings list and a few more pictures below.