Saturday, 5 January 2013

YWT Adel Dam - 5 January 2013

As a young birder back in the mid-eighties, I remember taking a bus to Adel Dam just north of Leeds where we were met by a man with a key, who would let us into this little woodland gem nestling alongside Golden Acre Park. I remembered the lake, mixed woodland and mud! Not much has changed, though you don't need a key any more, but you do still need your boots if you want to go further than the first hide at this time of year!

Adel Dam is a truly lovely site. It has become well known locally for almost guaranteed sightings of Kingfishers, but with two noisy little 'uns in tow, I doubted we would have much chance...

Adel Dam lies three miles north of the Leeds outer ring road on the A660 Otley Road. Turn left into the Golden Acre Park car park and then follow the footpath out of the southern end of the car park under the A660. Turn immediately right after the underpass and follow the level surfaced path for 1/4 mile around the right hand side of a lake. Soon you will have the opportunity to cross a fast flowing beck and further down the path you will notice a wooden structure, looking like a large shed, or shelter. The entrance to the nature reserve is just past this building, through a special access kissing gate. The shelter provides a good spot to have a rest or a picnic, especially if it is raining and there is plenty of information here about what to see on site. I was delighted to meet my colleague Amelia here, who was busy enthusing people about the wonders of Adel Dam and the work of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - a good effort on a Saturday afternoon!

Above - the entrance and the surfaced path leading to the Marsh Hide. The muddier path off to the right takes you on a loop round the nature reserve and also leads to the Lake Hide.

We followed the surfaced path to Marsh Hide (about 100metres) and were told on arrival that a Kingfisher was showing - boom! And yes, there it was very close to the hide, surprisingly high-up in over-hanging willow twigs. For once in their lives, my kids remained quiet and actully seemed quite spellbound. After a few minutes, the Kingfisher, a female, dropped out of the tree and hovered over the pond, literally a few yards in front of us - wow! A few minutes later she repeated the performance but this time dived in to the water with an audible splash. Sadly she didn't catch a fish, but landed very close by showing off her dazzling turquoise back stripe, which sparkled even in the dull woodland light. Great stuff! Hopefully, this will have ignited an interest in my kids and the hide full of visitors. The hide also provided good views of a bird feeding station, full  of finches and tits and attracting Moorhens and a Grey Squirrel. On the pond there were a couple of Mandarins adding to the Kingfishers touch of the exotic.

Female Kingfisher. This photo was taken with my little digital camera handheld to my bins. Not a bad result considering the poor light.

The kids decided they wanted to build a habitat pile for bugs and so I walked on to the next hide which overlooked the large lake. Here I saw a male Kingfisher who remained silently perched the entire time I was in the hide, and a large Common Carp cruising along the surface of the lake. A male Sparrowhawk sparred with a couple of Carrion Crows overhead, but sadly it was time to head back and pick up the kids. A couple of Redpolls (presumably Lesser) called overhead and a Treecreeper was peeping in the trees somewhere.

This is another lovely spot and with a large park next door, plenty of room to excercise your kids or dog afterwards if you are that way inclined. We even managed a January ice cream back in the car park!

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