STUNNING SPARROWHAWK SCATTERS THE BIRDS @ 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. Upon my arrival I went straight to the Marsh Hide which, as I sat down, was all of a sudden very quiet as a female Sparrowhawk made its first flypast through the trees sending the other birds scurrying for cover.
A few minutes later Great Tits, Blue Tits and Chaffinches returned to the feeders and a small group of Mallards swam up the narrow stream to the small pond in front of the hide. A male Great Spotted Woodpecker then flew onto the log feeders just in front of the hide and after probing all three of them for food it found nothing and flew over to the main feeders and proceeded to tuck into the nuts. In the undergrowth to the left of the hide a Robin and Dunnock were ferreting about looking for food and a lone Moorhen was probing the ground for food as it moved towards the pond.
A single Coal Tit arrived at the feeders closely followed by another Coal Tit and they proceeded to argue and they continued this argument as they moved through the bushes to the left of the hide. A Nuthatch and Blackbird now visited the feeders and on the pond the Mallards had been joined by four male and one female Mandarin Ducks. High up in the trees above the feeders a Jay flew in and landed on a branch and began to survey the scene it saw below.
One of the Mandarin Ducks now took flight and landed on top of the feeders looking down at its fellow ducks below. Suddenly there was a lot of noise from all the birds and they all quickly flew off into hiding as a female Sparrowhawk descended from the tops of the trees and flew low over the feeders and, having been unsuccessful in catching its prey, landed on a branch over to the left where it perched for a few minutes considering its next move.
Once the Sparrowhawk had flown off I left the hide and headed down to the lake hide to see what I could see from there. Upon arrival I could see that the lake was partially frozen with a few Mallards and Teals as well as a lone Moorhen around the edge of the lake. On the feeders to the left of the hide, Blue Tits and Great Tits were tucking into the food with a group of Long Tailed Tits continually moving back and forth across the front of the hide, briefly visiting the feeders before moving back across the front of the hide.
Up in the sky above the lake there were a few Black Headed Gulls and a lone Red Kite. About two hundred feet above the lake the female Sparrowhawk was circling, suddenly it started to dive, picking up speed and headed for the feeders at tremendous speed. It went for a Great Tit on the feeder, but luckily for the Great Tit, it missed this time. A few minutes passed when suddenly the Sparrowhawk came out of the trees behind the hide and went straight at a feeder with a cage round it. It managed to get its talons into the cage and latched on to an unfortunate Great Tit and proceeded to violently and forcibly pull the Great Tit through the small gap in the cage and fly off with its victim.
Once the Sparrowhawk departed and did not return I left a few minutes later and headed home. I have added a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Adel Dam.