GREY HERON THE HIGHLIGHT @ ADEL DAM


On Wednesday I went to Adel Dam Nature Reserve which is owned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. This reserve is a particular favourite of mine as it affords you great views and picture opportunities of Nuthatches, Jays, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and the always dazzling Kingfisher.


Adel Dam is 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. Adel Dam opened as a nature reserve in 1968 and was operated by Leeds Bird Watchers Club until 1986 when it was taken over by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.


Upon my arrival I went to the first hide which is called the Marsh Hide and overlooks a small pond and several bird feeders and is enclosed by woodland on all sides. Sadly the feeders right in front of the hide which usually attract the Nuthatches, Jays and Woodpeckers were empty. There were however plenty of Chaffinches, Blue Tits and Great Tits visiting the other feeders on the far left hand side of the pond.


A couple of Coal Tits also made a visit to the feeders before a Grey Heron started edging out from the bushes and opening out its wings and sunning itself. After a few minutes of basking in the sunshine the Grey Heron slowly edged its way across to the pond and then spent the next 15 to 20 minutes moving around the pond and dipping into the reeds looking for food.


A few minutes later I moved on to the other hide which overlooks a small lake which is covered by woodland on all sides. Swimming about on the far side were a trio of female Mandarin Ducks and a juvenile Black Headed Gull was also in attendance. At the far left hand side a Kingfisher was perched in branches a few feet above the water diving every 30 seconds or so for fish. A Teal was also milling about in the water under the Kingfisher and after the Kingfishers 9th or 10th dive into the water it flew across to a tree in the middle at the back of the lake.


The Black Headed Gull then took off and started flying in circles around the lake, landing on a wooden post sticking out of the water and repeated this a few times. After a while the Kingfisher dived from the tree and flew a little way towards me landing on another wooden post at the right hand end of an island in the middle of the lake which was awash with the wildflower Purple Loosestrife. Behind the island another Grey Heron was moving through the water stalking its prey.


The Kingfisher dived again and returned to the island but sat at the edge hidden by the Purple Loosestrife as the Black Headed Gull again began flying in circles around the lake. The Kingfisher then moved to another wooden post at the western end of the island, spending a couple of minutes there before moving to a branch at the back of the pond and disappearing a couple of minutes later.


I made my way back to the Marsh Hide, a Wren was moving about on a barbed wire fence making a loud racket for such a small bird. Settling back in at the Marsh Hide a Female Great Spotted Woodpecker arrived, but my attention was drawn to the Grey Heron who was still in front of the hide but had moved and was now sat on top of a wire cage situated on top of a feeder.

A group of about 30 Crows then flew over the top of the trees surrounding the pond, incidentally a group of Crows is called a Murder of Crows. After a quarter of an hour or so the Grey Heron took off and landed in the stream at the back of the small clearing out of view. A Nuthatch soon made its way to the feeder vacated by the Grey Heron, another Great Spotted Woodpecker also paid a visit although this time it was a Male.


A pair of juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers then squabbled over the feeders, but just a minute or so later all the birds suddenly disappeared as a Sparrowhawk flew through chasing an unfortunate Wood Pigeon. I have attached a few photos and my full sightings list from my visit.

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