KINGFISHER REELS THEM IN @ 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.


There are two hides at the reserve, Marsh Hide - which overlooks several feeders and a small pond and is enclosed by several large trees and the Lake Hide which overlooks a small lake with feeders to the left of the hide. Once I had arrived at the reserve I headed for the Marsh Hide and when I arrived Blue Tits, Great Tits and Chaffinches were busy going to and from the bird feeders and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was busy trying to get at the nuts in one of the log feeders.

There were a few Mallards making their way out of the pond and under the feeders picking up scraps dropped by other birds. A Nuthatch flew in and scared off the Woodpecker from the log feeder, briefly perching on top of it before inching its way up and down the feeder probing for nuts, but unable to find any it moved on inspecting each feeder for nuts finally succeeding at the final one.


A pair of Robins appeared to the left of the hide and a duo of Dunnocks hopped and scurried their way through the undergrowth in front of me. The Mallards now made their way back in to the pond and swam down the narrow stream that leads down to the small lake and as they did so Mandarin Ducks started to move in the opposite direction and arrived at the pond. The number of Mandarin Ducks kept rising and before long there were eight males and three females and, like the Mallards, some of them made their way out of the pond and under the feeders with some even flying up and landing on top of the feeders.

A male and female Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and proceeded to bicker over the feeders with each wanting to get at the feeder full of nuts. At the back of the small clearing beyond the pond a male Bullfinch appeared perched on a branch and was soon joined by another male and then a female. The difference between a male and female Bullfinch is that the male has a pinkish red breast and the female has a brown breast.


As the Bullfinches disappeared from the back right of the clearing a dazzling flash of blue flew in and landed on a branch overhanging the back left of the pond, the Kingfisher had arrived. It was a male Kingfisher and after it briefly scanned the pond it flew over to the right hand side of the pond and landed on a branch sticking out from a small clump of reeds which gave it a higher and better view of the pond. After a couple of minutes the Kingfisher dived into the water and returned to the branch with a fish in its beak and proceeded to bash it against the branch to kill it before swallowing it whole.

A minute or so after swallowing the fish the Kingfisher dived again and for a second time returned with a fish, bashing it against the branch and then swallowing. The Kingfisher did this two more times, each time returning with a fish and started its fifth dive into the water only to abort it as a Mandarin Duck swam across its path and the Kingfisher had to return to the branch. A little miffed with the Mandarin Duck, the Kingfisher watched it move out of the way and moved low over the Mandarin Duck and landed on a man made wooden perch at the back of the pond still staring at it before flying off down the stream towards the lake.

Now that the Kingfisher had departed I moved on to the Lake Hide to see if it would make an appearance there. I had just sat down in the Lake Hide when a Sparrowhawk flew from a tree to the left of hide and swooped across the front of the hide and disappeared over the trees to the right. Due to the Sparrowhawk's close proximity to the feeders they were empty for a few minutes. During my last two visits to Adel Dam a Sparrowhawk had swooped in and snatched a Blue Tit off these feeders.


The Blue Tits and Great Tits eventually returned to the feeders and they were closely followed by a Jay and a trio of Robins who perched on branches near the feeders but kept dropping into the bushes before returning thirty seconds later. Out on the lake it was fairly quiet and there was no sign of the Kingfisher but there were several Mallards and Teals with a pair of Black Headed Gulls circling low over the water but not landing.


After about twenty minutes I went back to the Marsh Hide which was still busy with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, a trio of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Nuthatch and a single Coal Tit. It was now beginning to get dark so I packed my camera up and headed home. I have attached a few photos from my visit and a full sightings list from my trip to Adel Dam.

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