A PARTRIDGE NOT IN A PEAR TREE @ RODLEY NATURE RESERVE
On Saturday, after a few days of wet weather, the rain finally relented and I made my 2nd visit of the summer to Rodley Nature Reserve. On my last visit here it was during the annual Leeds Bird Fair, which is held at the reserve every year and on that occasion I had been lucky enough to see a Little Owl which sadly would prove elusive this time.
After parking up I headed along the access road towards the visitor centre. Just before reaching the visitor centre I turned left up a grass track towards the Managers Garden Hide, the usual haunt of the Little Owl. When I arrived there wasn't a single bird in view and after ten minutes I was going to move on to the next hide, but then a trio of Bullfinches flew from left to right into the trees. A Jay then flew to the feeders but was only there a few seconds before it flew up into the trees and out of view. A couple of minutes later a juvenile Bullfinch dropped down onto one of the bird tables, closely followed by an adult Bullfinch, a Chaffinch and a Dunnock.
A couple of minutes later I made my way back down the grass track towards the visitor centre. In the middle of the reserve is a Yorkshire Water Pumping Station and this is where the Little Owl was seen on my last visit. However today there was no sign of the Little Owl, there were however numerous Crows, Jackdaws & Black Headed gulls. After reaching the visitor centre I continued and turned left at the dipping ponds onto the grass track which leads to the River Path & Dragonfly Ponds.
I followed the grass path all the way to the river, which was very high following all the recent rain and completed the loop round the Dragonfly Ponds and headed towards the first viewpoint over looking the wet grassland. Sadly like the other viewpoint I visited afterwards there wasn't a solitary bird in view and I continued on to the Reedbed Hide which overlooks both the wet grassland and the reedbeds.
Looking out over the reedbeds there was a lone Grey Heron wading through the water looking for food. A Cormorant the flew round in a circle over the reedbeds before rising up and landing on an electricity pylon. A Jay then flew from the right over towards the river closely followed by another Jay. Looking out the other way over the wet grassland there were a few Mallards and another Grey Heron at the back. Returning to the path I moved on to the next hide where I hoped to get a better view of the Grey Heron I had seen from the previous hide.
At the Willow Path Hide the Grey Heron had disappeared during my walk between the hides. There was however a small group of Lapwings and a lone Little Grebe diving for food and in the distance a Grey Heron perched near the top of a tree. A pair of Grey Herons then flew across to join the one perched in the tree, but after only a few seconds they flew off in separate directions.
The next hide overlooks both the Duck Marsh and the Lagoon and on the Duck Marsh there was a large group of Mallards, a pair of Little Grebes and a Coot sat on a nest at the edge of the reeds watching the Mallards and Little Grebes. Although you can see over the Lagoon from this hide you can get a better view from the Lagoon Hide so after a few minutes I moved on to the previously mentioned Lagoon Hide.
From the Lagoon Hide I was able to see more Mallards, several Black Headed Gulls, Sand Martins, a lone Tufted Duck and a Great Crested Grebe in the distance. After a few minutes I decided I would make one more attempt at spotting the Little Owl again and headed back up the access road towards the visitor centre. Before heading up the grass track to the hide I had a quick look at the Wild Flower Meadow to see what Butterflies were visiting the flowers. I managed to see Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Speckled Woods, Meadow Browns, Small Coppers and several Black Veined Whites.
After spending a few minutes photographing butterflies I went back past the visitor centre and headed for the grass track leading up to the Managers Garden Hide. Upon reaching the Hide the Bullfinches were under the feeders to the left and several Great Tits and a couple of Chaffinches on the ones to the right with a pair of Jackdaws picking up the scraps dropped by other birds visiting the feeders.
After a few minutes a male Pheasant poked its head out from the grass behind the feeders on the far right before quickly disappearing. A minute or so later another bird made its way out from the tall grass in the same place but this time the bird was noticeably smaller than the Pheasant and at first I thought it was a young Pheasant but then suspected it to be a Partridge. This would later be confirmed as a Grey Partridge which I managed to get a few good photos of. After watching the Grey Partridge for a few minutes I headed back to the car and went home. I have attached my full sightings list and a few photos.