Trip reports

St Aidan's RSPB

St Aidan's RSPB
Little owl - Cheryl Delaney

Saturday, 11 May 2019

St Aidan's RSPB, near Leeds, is sited on a former open cast mining area, and the sight that greets you as you enter the car park is the old dragline excavator, said to be the largest in Europe, that was used to scour the landscape. The machine however, seems to be a happy home for the little owl, stock doves and kestrel seen in the compound with it.
As we walked down from the visitor's centre towards the lagoons, the scrub area held numerous sedge warblers, reed buntings, willow warblers, and a couple of whitethroats, while on the 'ridge and furrow' side Canada geese and greylag geese mingled with oystercatchers and lapwings. In the ditch by path side were a number of coots and moorhens, which were accompanied on the banks by a pair of meadow pipits and single wheatear. On the opposite hillside were a couple of pheasants, along with a few hares running around.
In the water channels along the edge of the reedbeds there were a number of duck species, mallards, tufted duck, pochard, gadwall, shoveler, and teal, and overhead swifts, swallows, and sand martins darted about.

On the open lakes beyond the reedbeds there were a number of great-crested grebe and mute swans, with more ducks including shelduck. A few common terns were resting on one of the islands with some cormorants and black headed gulls, and a black tern flew around the perimeter of the lake.
A bittern was heard booming in the reedbeds, and hundreds of black headed gulls swarmed around. A second bittern was heard, and eventually we got to see a pair of black-necked grebe as they floated across one of the open stretches of water.
Being almost as far from the visitors centre as you could get, it was a fine time for it to start raining, so a quick march back for lunch was required. It had stopped raining by the time we got back to the centre, but lunch was delayed when a flat tyre needed to be changed on one of our vehicles.

After lunch we set off away from the reedbeds in the opposite direction to the morning. This way there was again open water which housed little grebe and grey heron. The water's edge provided feeding areas for a few redshank and pied wagtail, and a couple of lesser black- backed gulls bathed in the shallow waters. A few house martins made an appearance and reed warbler and chiffchaff were added to the warbler list.
The resident cattle were supposed to be a magnet for yellow wagtails but we could only see starlings and a few magpies.
Finally, as we walked back to the cars a buzzard soared overhead.

50 species seen, 5 attended