GLORIOUS GARGANEY @ RODLEY NATURE RESERVE
On Sunday I visited Rodley Nature Reserve which is located west of Leeds between Horsforth and Stanningley. The site was formerly a sewage works and in 1992 Yorkshire Water first proposed that the site be turned into a nature reserve and the plans came to fruition when it opened in 1999. There are five hides and five viewing screens and the reserve is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
I was a dry but cloudy day when I arrived and after parking my car in the car park just after you cross the River Aire I headed up the road towards the visitor centre. In the bushes there were Great Tits and Robins and in the field to the left there were a few Crows. I first went into the visitor centre to check if the Garganey that had been spotted the previous day was still around. It was and I headed down the path towards the Reedbed Hide spotting a couple of Dunnocks singing from a tree.
From the Reedbed Hide I saw Coots, Gadwalls and a single Grey Heron perched on the river bank at the far side of the reedbeds. As I walked along the path to the next hide, the Willow Path Hide, I saw a lone bird in a tree and after taking a closer look it was a Linnet. The Willow Path Hide is where the Garganey had been seen and amongst a group of Teals, there was the Garganey in the grass at the edge of the water at the far side.
In the water there were Gadwalls, Mallards, Coots and Canada Geese and as the Garganey made its way into the water a Grey Heron landed in the water. The Grey Heron was immediately dive bombed by a few Black Headed Gulls until it flew off westwards out of site. The Garganey now proceeded to wash itself before returning to the grass at the edge of the water and settling down amongst the Teals. I now headed for the next hide spotting a Reed Bunting and Robin in the tree branches as I walked past.
The next hide is the Duck Marsh Hide which overlooks the Duck Marsh and the Lagoon. On the Duck Marsh there were Coots, Canada Geese and a pair of Little Grebes as well as a sleeping Mute Swan. The Mute Swan woke up a few minutes later and made its way into the reeds to join its mate. Suddenly to the left scurrying out of the reeds and across a grass path and into the bushes was a Water Rail. It was so quick I didn't have time to get a picture sadly and as I was waiting to see if it ventured back out into the open a pair of Canada Geese came out of the water and waddled across to the lagoon on the right.
I moved on to the next hide which looks over the Lagoon and is aptly called the Lagoon Hide. From here I could see Cormorants, Black Headed Gulls, Lapwings, Greylag Geese, Great Crested Grebes and Coots. On one of the islands in front of the hide were a pair of Oystercatchers which were being pestered by another Oystercatcher that kept flying low over them and trying to land next to them. The Oystercatcher kept flying round in circles trying again and again before giving up and landing on the other island.
From the Lagoon hide I headed back up the road to the visitor centre and after a quick drink I walked up to the hide at the Managers Garden. The feeders in front of the hide were quite quiet with just Reed Buntings, Great Tits, Dunnocks and Robins visiting the feeders. A Jay made a couple of brief visits to the feeders as a pair of Wrens chased each other through the branches of a tree.
I walked back past the visitor centre and started my second circuit of the reserve, heading first for the river. On the river there were a trio of Mallards and a Grey Heron flying overhead and in the trees a pair of Blackbirds. I now went to the first of the viewing screens overlooking the Wet Grassland and down in the water I spotted several Common Frogs swimming through the water. They paused occasionally with just the tops of their heads visible above the water line.
I walked on to the Reedbed Hide which was still quite quiet apart from a few Coots and Gadwalls. A Mute Swan was slowly making its way across the grass separating the Wet Grassland and Reedbeds and then swam across the Wet Grassland and out of sight. At the next hide (Willow Path Hide) the Garganey was still asleep on the far side of the pond and a Coot had moved close to the front of the hide as a flock of Crows flew past.
I made another visit to the Duck Marsh Hide hoping to see the Water Rail again but it did not appear. The Little Grebes were gathering material for their nest, disappearing into the reeds with it as a pair of Canada Geese waded into the water honking loudly as they went. Before I left I visited the Lagoon Hide again where the Oystercatcher was still flying about trying to invade the space of the other two Oystercatchers.
One of the Cormorants had its wings stretched out to dry itself and I now walked back to the car park. From the car park I could see a large pool of water had formed due to the significant rain fall we had received earlier in the week. At the waters edge were several Canada Geese and Greylag Geese as well as a single Lesser Black Backed Gull. From the bushes by the car park I could hear a Wren and a Blackcap singing away as I got in my car to drive home.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Rodley Nature Reserve.