RSPB Leeds Local Group local walk in Roundhay Park on 13th January 2024

Twenty of us gathered at the car park at the top of Princes Avenue at 9am to begin our stroll through one of the largest parks in the many cities of Europe. The weather was sunny and cool, with hardly a breath of wind, so we set off in high spirits towards the arboretum and The Mansion for stage one. The assembly point had already given us pied wagtail and long tailed tits, and it wasn’t long before the first of many nuthatches made their presence felt.

Around the Mansion we were enjoying sightings of mistle thrushes, goldfinches, jay and coal tits.

The upper lake was also rewarding with gadwall, widgeon, little grebe and tufted duck. Things warmed up a bit when two young mute swans landed on the middle of the lake and the resident family of swans took exception to their presumption and quickly persuaded them to move on to another location. The resident pair of mute swans, Hope and Joy, have been very protective of their home here for many years now.

Our route took us towards Park Lane and then across the golf course to the western end of the gorge next. This was very quiet at first but before long we could hear calls from a buzzard overhead. After sightings of goldcrest, redwings and of course more nuthatches we had the pleasure of seeing the buzzard land on the top of a tree above our heads and almost immediately joined by another. They crooned at each other for a few minutes in a buzzard-like way before deciding to continue their tryst out of sight of the score of binoculars that were being directed at them!

This year the walk through the gorge did not provide us with a view of a little egret, as it has in the last two years, so we moved on to Waterloo Lake.

The walk down the eastern shore gave us sightings of plenty of little grebe, goosander and common gulls mixed in with the black headed gulls. A greater spotted woodpecker also provided a rousing tattoo but failed to show itself. Nearer to the Lakeside Cafe we encountered herring gulls, more goosander and the resident pair of Mandarin ducks.

We did not pool our count of species, as is usual for a local outing, but most people got between thirty and forty in total for the mornings walk, which was better than average for this time of year in such a short excursion.

Many thanks again to Dianne for leading our walk, it was enjoyable for all of us who were able to take part, and we are looking forward to meeting all of you again whenever you are able to join us on some of our upcoming events.  Check the RSPB Leeds Local Group website for the calendar of our forthcoming functions.

Geoff and Maggie Craigs