Last Wednesday we met with friends for lunch, followed by a walk of course, leaving just a couple of hours free in the morning for exploration. With blazing sun (despite the forecast being for heavy rain) we headed over to Golden Acre park where a small wetland area near the entrance held a couple of Brown Hawkers. According to my records these are the first examples of the species I’ve ever seen so despite them being a little distant and partly obscured it was worth taking a record shot at least.
I watched them both for a good while in the hope that they might move closer but when flight came it was quickly followed by a disappearing act over the main road. Despite searching I couldn’t relocate them and instead turned my attention to a family of Moorhens which were going about their business nearby. With just one well grown chick to look after they were doing as much of Leeds was and taking advantage of the sun.
The main lake held the usual assortment of ducks and geese, some with more dubious bloodlines than others, whilst the occasional Red Kite drifted overhead. The numbers of this enigmatic bird have been increasing steadily across the city in recent years and we saw at least one on every day of our stay. There were also a good collection of warblers about with individuals of both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff spotted. Neither however was willing to sing as befits this time of year.
Bordering Golden Acre is the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve of Adel Dam. This is another place that I only discovered by chance one day and it provides a welcome area of tranquillity compared to the hustle and bustle of the main park. It’s two hides look over a well stocked feeding station and tree bordered pool, both of which were brimming with birds. I arrived at the first to a chorus of screeching as two Grey Herons were disturbed from their roosts and then spent the next couple of minutes circling around before finally heading off. On the feeders themselves I watched a constant procession of Nuthatches, Great Tits and Blue Tits plus the occasional appearance by a Jay or Song Thrush. The real stars though were on the pool where a sunbathing Grey Heron was joined by at least five Mandarin, one of which was kind enough to swim straight across my position.
Also present here was a Kingfisher which gave customary brief views as it shot from one side to another, followed soon after by two Foxes skulking through the far vegetation. Their presence was greeted by a chorus of alarm calls from the nearby Mallards but as far as I could tell the Foxes were just passing through. This is the second time I have seen them in this exact location, the first sighting being at the end of December a couple of years ago. The presumption must be therefore that this is a regular haunt and I’d love to set a trail-cam if this was part of my local patch. Elsewhere in the woodland I stopped to watch a Song Thrush feeding young and also stumbled across a particularly raucous family of Wrens. Not bad for a city park.