Saturday, 1 April 2017
I recently took a couple of friends to visit nearby Rodley Nature Reserve. Neither of them had been before and they were as charmed as I had been when I first stumbled across it. It's a bit of a hidden secret, tucked away beyond the canal on the outskirts of Leeds, in an area that at first sight would appear to be very built-up, with residential developments and light industrial units all around. Last time I went (see here) it was recovering from the severe flooding of the 2015-16 winter, and I am pleased to say that it has got back on its feet very well; much work has been done by their wonderful volunteers to rebuild fences and generally tidy up.
'Hidden secrets' might describe the wildlife too. At first, on entering a hide, you can easily think there is nothing to see at all. But sit quietly for a while and all sorts of things reveal themselves. We were watching housemartins, very newly arrived from Africa, starting to build their nests. Many of the over-wintering ducks have moved on but we did see some gadwall and teal among the mallards, a grey heron, some cormorants, swans, coots, moorhens, great crested grebes and lots of Canada geese. We watched a little grebe catch and eat a fish (below). Their common name - dabchick - quite well expresses the way they dart about and dive, really cute little birds.
In the area where they put out seed for garden birds, we saw a beautiful bullfinch, various tits, robins, wrens, chaffinches - and a cheeky reed bunting helping himself to the seed. Not a bird I'd have expected to see on a bird table! We just missed seeing a little owl too. Apologies for the quality of the bird photos; I'd need a bigger, faster lens if I was to make a habit of such photography. I used to really enjoy birdwatching when I was younger so maybe I'll get back into it as a hobby now I've got more time.