Trip reports

Guided Walk at Rodley Nature Reserve

Guided Walk at Rodley Nature Reserve
Carol Barrett

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Setting out from the lower car park at 9am, on a partially cloudy Sunday morning, 17 enthusiastic visitors made their way towards the Visitors Centre, where we were met by Pater Murphy for an introductory talk about Rodley Nature Reserve. A bird count had already taken place for BTO this morning and Peter was able to tell us what we could expect to see on our visit, or as it turned out, what we were unlikely to see, as there was a dearth of birdlife on this windy morning.
We made our way as a group to the Dipping Ponds, pausing to search for signs of passing wheatears, stonechats or linnets which stop to feed on the bird friendly seed crop planted on Tim's Field, but although one or two birds flew above the wildflower meadow, they hunkered down very quickly before identification was possible.
Continuing along the river path, we arrived at the dragonfly ponds, where the water lilies are still in flower, and where in the summer months various species of dragonfly can be seen. At this point, after watching a buzzard mobbing a magpie in the distance, it was agreed for people to make their own way around the reserve, using the self-explanatory leaflets provided, as we were such a large group.
Sightings along the Winter Walk were few and far between and as one member of our group said, 'It's a poor day on the reedbed when you can't see a coot!'
Five cormorants were perched on a pylon, viewed from the Reedbed Hide and the odd reed bunting braved the wind to show on the overhanging willow branches.
A swift tower has now been erected with hope of encouraging these most aerial of birds to roost and hopefully nest. A few swallows with their highly acrobatic flight were in search of insects before setting off on their long journey South.
Along the Willow Path, white deadnettle and comfrey are a temptation for bumblebees and beautiful teasels attract charms of goldfinches.
Suddenly, on reaching the Lagoon Hide, we were able to identify several species of waterfowl, including a number of gadwall, Canada and greylag geese and lesser numbers of mallard, coot and moorhen. A single lesser black backed gull, heron, little grebe and herring gull were also sighted. Excellent views of a pair of chiff chaffs were seen flitting about feeding non-stop in the foliage next to the hide, close to a small flock of active long tailed tits.
Three of our members were delighted to see a beautiful wheatear, which was just a few yards in front of them on the path.
Before leaving this gem of a local reserve, two members decided to take a last view along the River Aire, whereupon first, a female goosander was sighted and almost simultaneously a kingfisher flew across to perch low on fallen branches...the icing on the cake to our visit!
Birds seen: Canada goose, greylag goose, mallard, gadwall, mute swan, coot, moorhen, little grebe, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, black headed gull, cormorant, heron, goosander, kingfisher, buzzard, magpie, crow, jackdaw, wood pigeon, stock dove, blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit, reed bunting, swallow, chiff chaff, dunnock, robin, bullfinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, wren, wheatear, pheasant.