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November 2019

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Marvellous nature site within a few miles of Leeds

Marvellous nature site within a few miles of Leeds

This was an eagerly anticipated trip and the lovely nature park of St Aidan's didn't disappoint. The greeting from the staff was very welcoming and informative. The former use of the site as an open cast coal mine was plain to see with the huge "Dragline Excavator" called "Oddball" standing guard over the car park and visitors centre. There was a lot of standing water due to the recent heavy rain but we were able to get round most of the site. Lots of Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Gadwall, Shoveller and Tufted Duck were feeding on site with a fair number of Great crested Grebe and a lovely male Pintail. Waders consisted mainly of Lapwing and Golden Plover which kept on being flushed by a hunting male Marsh Harrier. We heard Cetti's Warbler a number of times and heard Beared Tits, which we eventually got reasonable, if somewhat brief, views of. We stayed later than we intended to see the Short eared Owl that had been hunting the rough hill side although we only managed brief views. One bird that caused real exciement when we saw it on one of the pools was a female Bufflehead, an american duck, but our excitement bubble was soon popped when the warden told us it had escaped from a collection !! It is a nature park rather than a reserve (and is part of the Aire Valley flood prevention scheme) and it took a little getting used to sharing the paths with cyclists, dog walkers and horse riders but everyone seemed to get along really well. The other lovely thing about the site is that the reception centre has a veranda from which you can survey the whole reserve whilst having a cup of tea. Heaven !!