KINGFISHERS PATIENCE PAYS OFF @ 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. There are three man made feeders just in front of the hide although one of them had been removed for repairs. Visiting the main feeders were several Great Tits and Blue Tits along with a pair of Coal Tits. In the bushes to the left of the hide a lone Reed Warbler briefly perched on a branch before disappearing.
A couple of minutes later as a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was visiting the feeders all the birds suddenly scattered and a couple of seconds later the reason for this became evident. A Sparrowhawk flew in from the right, into the tree behind the feeders, plucked a poor unsuspecting Blue Tit from a branch and carried on out through the left hand side of the tree and disappeared. It took a few minutes before the birds returned to the feeders following the Sparrowhawk's raid.
A pair of Nuthatches made regular visits over the next half hour raiding the feeders for seeds and nuts. The number of Coal Tits on the feeders rose to three as a Magpie landed on top of the far feeders, closely followed by a second, third and then fourth as they proceeded to squabble over who would get first dibs on the feeders and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker took advantage of this disagreement and filled its boots until the Magpies scared it off.
A Moorhen swam out from under the overhanging grass at the far side of the small pond as a Wren perched on the Purple Loosestrife above. The Wren made its way round the left side of the pond, briefly settling on branches in front of the hide before disappearing into the small clump of reeds on the right. A pair of juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers were now on the feeders and the number of Coal Tits had now risen to four.
I had spent about an hour in the hide and there had been no sign nor sound of the Kingfisher so I made my way down to the Pond Hide. There were more Blue Tits and Great Tits on the feeders to the left of the hide and yet another Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker taking their totals to 3 and 5 respectively. Out on the large pond it was very quiet with just a pair of Moorhens and, flying overhead, a single Crow.
A couple of Kestrels flew high over the pond from right to left and at the same time a female Kingfisher appeared and sat on the top of a post at the right hand end of the island in the middle of the pond. The difference between male and female Kingfisher is the beak, they both have black beaks but the female has a mostly orange lower beak and juveniles have a white tip to their beaks.
The Kingfisher spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes sat on this post searching and studying the water for fish but without success and it moved to the post at the left hand end. This proved more fruitful for the Kingfisher as within a minute or so it dived and returned with a fish before flying over to perch in front of the hide and proceeding to smack the fish against the branch to kill it and then swallow it whole.
After consuming the fish the Kingfisher flew to the long branch situated to the left of the hide and spent the next ten or so minutes searching the water for fish. The Kingfisher dived in, resurfaced with another fish, briefly perching on a branch in front of the hide before disappearing into the trees to the left of the hide. A minute later a Grey Wagtail flew in from the right briefly stopping on a branch in front of the hide before carrying on to the trees on the left side of the pond. Just a few minutes later the Kingfisher flew northwards across the pond at a rate of knots disappearing up the stream towards the other hide. At this point I decided to make a move back to the Marsh Hide to see if the Kingfisher would make a visit to this hide as well. During my journey back to the Marsh Hide I saw another Coal Tit and a pair of Dunnocks.
Upon my return to the Marsh Hide a Stock Dove was sat on the table feeder and soon joined by a second. Nuthatches, Coal Tits and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were still making regular visits to the feeders and were now joined by Chaffinches. By now I had been at Adel Dam for just over two hours and I was about to leave when one by one Mandarin Ducks landed on the pond. In total there were four males and one female and after taking a few photos I left.
I have attached my full sightings list and a few photos from my visit.