Yorkshire Photo Explorer

Adel Dam Nature Reserve

Kingfisher at Adel Dam Nature Reserve

If you like bird photography, Adel Dam Nature Reserve is an enjoyable place to visit. Run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the reserve is situated in north Leeds between Adel and Bramhope, about 6 miles from the city centre. There are a number of bird feeders, so there are plenty of birds around on which to practice your photography. The site is also next to Golden Acre Park, so you can enjoy an ice cream or go to the café when you need a break.

View from the marsh hide

View from the marsh hide

There are two comfortable hides here: the marsh hide and the lake hide. My personal favourite is the marsh hide because the birds are reasonably close. I’m not a twitcher, so I found the signs showing you what birds frequent the site helpful (and to try to identify what I’ve photographed afterwards!). If you are into your birds, there is a blog recording what has been sighted recently.

I spent a happy couple of hours practicing focusing on the birds and also trying to get exposures right. The light can be variable at the hide, so I needed to keep adjusting the exposure compensation and ISO to get the right shutter speed. I don’t think I’ve perfected this yet, but at least there are ample opportunities to keep trying. I want to try to capture a bird in flight, but I still haven’t managed that one yet (unless you count blurry birds!).

I was excited when I saw a couple of woodpeckers and they kept coming back to feed on the peanuts. The feeders may not produce the most natural looking backgrounds, but I was happy to see them. I had heard that kingfishers are often found here, but I wasn’t expecting to see any. However, after about an hour in the hide, one came and perched over the water for about 5 minutes. I had to put the zoom to maximum to photograph it, so the photos aren’t the sharpest, but I didn’t really mind as it was such a treat to see one. Other than birds, I also saw a few grey squirrels, and a rabbit feeding on the marsh plants.

Rabbit feeding at the marsh hide

Rabbit feeding at the marsh hide

View from the lake hide

View from the lake hide

I then went to the lake hide. I found this one much more challenging for photography as the birds were much further away. There are some feeders to one side of the hide, so I got a reasonable photo of a robin, but otherwise I struggled here. Speaking to someone in the hide, they said that water voles can sometimes be seen from here. I didn’t see any on my visit, but I may be back to try this!

I spoke with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust volunteer at the site and she told me the woodland in the reserve is also a good place for photographing fungi. So a good place to try in autumn for some macro work!

Here are some photos I took on my visit to Adel Dam Nature Reserve (click on an image to enlarge):

Approximate post code (for sat nav) LS16 9JY
Parking There is a free car park at Golden Acre Park just off the A660 (Otley Road). It is signposted from the road. Warning: on the weekends or a sunny day, the car park can get full quickly.
Directions From the car park, cross under the underpass. Then turn right and follow the path through Golden Acre Park past the lake and into a wooded area. After a short distance, there is a path to the right through a fence, which joins a bridleway. Turn left onto the bridleway. The entrance to the reserve is just a short distance on the right.
Website http://www.ywt.org.uk/reserves/adel-dam-nature-reserve

Location of the reserve:

The car park:

Notes for next time
  • Try to get some birds in flight
  • Come back in autumn for mushrooms and fungi
  • Try an evening shoot – owls can sometimes be seen here

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