RSPB Leeds Local Group Outdoor Meeting at Eccup on 20th April 2024

24 of us gathered in the car park of the New Inn at Eccup for our 9:30am start. The weather was fine, although cool at first, but became very pleasant as the morning progressed. Iain outlined our schedule for the day together with a quick rundown of the possible birds that we might encounter.  

Yellow wagtails had been very prominent on our walk here last year, but none had been reported here yet this year. There should be plenty of other Spring arrivals to attract our attention, despite the cool, damp weather that we had been experiencing thus far in this part of the country.

Before leaving the car park we had ticked off several species, including a tree sparrow. Initially our route was east and north towards the Emmerdale set along which we encountered curlew, blackcap, skylark, willow warbler, buzzard and a suspected sparrowhawk.

Our track then turned south towards the reservoir. Along here we had encounters with linnet, yellowhammer and other hedgerow birds, especially finches. In the vicinity of the dam, we observed swallows, greenfinch, grey wagtail, goosander, great crested grebe and after a lot of searching the common sandpiper that Maggie glimpsed flying off when we arrived was eventually relocated at the north end of the dam wall.

Our walk along the track back to Eccup was lit up with sightings of oystercatchers, lapwing and pied wagtail, as well as yet more skylarks and yellowhammers.

Some of us then assembled in the New Inn for a leisurely lunch and a recounting of anecdotes. A delightful finale to our shared morning of birding. We did not collate a group tally of birds encountered like we do on the return leg of our coach trips, but most of us got to a tally of about 40 species for the mornings walk. Our own tally increased from 43 to 44 as we left the car park when a kestrel flew in front of us.

A big thank you to Iain for again planning and leading our day, and also to him and Pauline for liaising with the New Inn’s management who provided us with such a lovely meal.

Geoff and Maggie Craigs