RSPB Leeds Local Group Events for the 2023/2024 Season

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 27th September – The Miracle of Migration with Linda Jenkinson

As our former leader, professional bird watching tutor and owner of Start Birding, Linda’s talks are always interesting and highly informative. This year for our first meeting at the new venue, Linda joins us to explain all the ins and outs of the miracle that is the migration of so many of our native bird species to and from, and within our British Isles. With an exploration into the what’s, the where’s and the why factors and some of the science behind it all, as well as highlighting some of the best species for us to look out for locally during the Autumn migration period, this talk should prove fascinating for both the beginner birders and more experienced experts among us.

Coach Trip Saturday 30th September – Filey & East Coast Returning about 7pm Cost: £23

We often visit this area in winter, so have planned an autumn visit to try to catch some migrants, who often stop on the Brigg or Carr Naze as it is the first land they see when crossing the North Sea. This could also be the best time to catch sight of shearwaters and skuas flying past or harassing other birds into relinquishing their catches. We will also visit another venue during the afternoon depending on what is around at the time and this could be Filey Dams or Flamborough area.

The toilets and café at Filey country park are open but there will be a charge for the ones at Cobble Landing so bring some change with you if planning on using these. There are toilets and a café at Flamborough Head. The Brigg can be very slippery when wet as can the paths up the cliffs to Carr Naze, which are not recommended. Footpaths on Carr Naze and Flamborough Head can be uneven.

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 11th October 2023 – AGM and An Osprey in a Shopping bag – The Return of a Raptor with Alasdair McKee, RSPB & Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Alasdair works closely with Ospreys in south Cumbria. He will tell us about how this most charismatic bird of prey has returned from extinction in England in the last twenty years, including the story of this year’s youngsters. This entertaining illustrated talk will introduce you to these wonderful birds and tell the story of a remarkable conservation comeback in Cumbria and beyond … and explain where the shopping bag comes in!”

This meeting will begin with the groups AGM. It would be great to get as many members there as we can especially if you have ideas or input to put forward to the committee.

Coach Trip Saturday 14th October – YWT Spurn Returning about 7:15pm Cost: £23

Spurn is one of the best Autumn migration hotspots on the east Coast, so we are visiting on the same weekend as last year to try to replicate our highest number of birds seen on any trip that year. Migration should be well underway, with many juveniles preparing for their first migration. We should also see incoming winter migrants who consider Britain as their ‘warmer climes’ and arrive exhausted after their long flight over the sea. It is a time when you just never know what will turn up! You can get off the coach at Easington and walk along the Humber; get off at Kilnsea Wetlands; or stay on to where the coach will park up for the day next to the Visitor Centre.

The Visitor Centre has a café and toilets but there are also toilets at the Bluebell car park, while those in the Crown and Anchor are for use of customers only. Most walking is on roads or well-trodden paths on level ground unless you choose to head to the Point which includes some walking on soft sand.

Coach Trip Saturday 11th November – RSPB Burton Mere and Parkgate Returning c7:00pm Cost: £23

The gateway to the Dee Estuary reserve, Burton Mere Wetlands straddles the border between England and Wales with a mosaic of freshwater wetland habitats, mixed farmland and woodland. The walk to the Visitor Centre is through a woodland hosting woodpeckers and many small birds and there are several hides overlooking reedbeds and the marshland of the Dee banks. We will spend most of the day here moving on to Parkgate during the afternoon to catch up with any raptors coming into roost.

The Visitor Centre has toilets and also sells hot and cold drinks and has a welcoming warm stove! The paths are mostly level and even apart from the far end which is up an embankment. Parkgate is alongside a bustling street with cafes, shops and public toilets.

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 15th November – Wharfedale Barn Owls project with Ian McCarthy & Stewart Barlow

The ‘Wharfedale Barn Owls’ group consists of a dedicated team of volunteers working independently and effectively with local landowners in discreet areas, to support and expand the existing, small, but sustainable Barn Owl population in Wharfedale, by putting up boxes, community education, and co-ordinating volunteers in the field to monitor and survey the owls. 

Wildlife TV and film editor and co-founder of the group Stewart Barlow and renowned wildlife photographer and Emmy award winning cinematographer Ian McCarthy, join us for this insightful look into the Barn Owl and the fantastic work the group have done so far and their aims for the future, including their upcoming work with a local 2500 acre rewilding project, involving the installation of 20 boxes.

No indoor meeting in December

Coach Trip Saturday 16th December – Teesmouth Returning c7pm Cost: £23

We would not dare to leave out everyone’s favourite venue where we travel to be the guests of the Teesmouth Field Centre in the capable hands of Julie Mason! Julie will have planned where to take us depending on what is around at the time but this could be any of Greatham Creek, North Gare, Hartlepool Headland or somewhere else in the area. A visit to RSPB Saltholme is a definite though.

Most walking is on good paths though we may walk along the beach. We are always indebted to the TFC for their hospitality providing teas, coffees and toilets! There are toilets and a café at RSPB Saltholme.

Outdoor Meeting Saturday 13th January – Roundhay Park Winter Walk Meet 9am in main car park on Princes Avenue No charge

Dianne has led a few walks at this gem of a park and all have been very successful encountering a wide range of birds. The route will be decided by Dianne nearer the time and the walk will last however long it takes depending on what we can find, though you are free to leave earlier.

Warm clothing, sturdy footwear and waterproofs are essential and there are many uneven paths. Booking is not required.

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 17th January 2024 – Sri Lanka with Richard Griffiths

Sri Lanka is a fabulous place for wildlife, especially birds. They are fantastically colourful, plentiful and often very confiding with hardly a single LBJ amongst them! Richard has visited the country at least 10 times and thought it would be nice to share some of his experiences. He plans to show many photos of the brilliant birds there, plus a few elephants, lizards and other tropical delights. For anyone thinking they might like to visit Sri Lanka, this should definitely whet the appetite.

Coach Trip Saturday 20th January – RSPB Frampton Marsh ****early start**** Returning c8.00pm Cost: £24

The reserve is situated at the base of The Wash and comprises wet grassland, freshwater scrapes and salt marsh with three trails and several hides. We have visited twice in November and been impressed by the huge numbers of over-wintering wildfowl and waders so are trying a visit deeper into winter to see what else turns up. The reserve has a reputation for rarities turning up at any time.

The Visitor Centre has toilets and a cafe. Most paths are good and level but those along the sea wall are grass and may be muddy. There are some steps up and down the sea wall.

Coach Trip Saturday 17th February – Rutland Water Returning c7:30pm Cost: £29.50

We visited this Leicestershire reserve on the same weekend last year and managed to catch up with scaup, stunning drake smew, and a Slavonian grebe amongst the other regulars here. We hope to repeat our luck with this visit! The reserve has several large lagoons with plenty of hides and walks through wooded areas in between.

The Visitor Centre has toilets and a hot drinks and refreshments counter. The paths are level but there can be some very muddy areas. The trip cost does include the Group Rate entrance fee.

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 21st February – Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital with Dan Sidley

As the only dedicated full-time swan sanctuary in the north of England, Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital responds to thousands of swans and other wildlife rescues every year. Dan Sidley returns to us to speak about the fantastic work the Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital does, with an update on the work of the hospital over the last couple of years and an insight into the wide variety of animals that the hospital also treats and cares for.

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 20th March – Filey Bay and Bempton Cliffs – Seabird Nirvana with Mark Pearson

Mark Pearson is an ecologist, conservationist and expert birder. He will talk to us about the fabulous natural harbour of Filey Brigg and the towering chalk cliffs of Bempton. As well as being included in Yorkshire’s most breathtaking panoramas these also happen to be the best areas for birds on the east coast. This area is home to a glittering cast of breeding seabirds (including Puffins and Gannets) and also there is a fabulous roll call of passage and wintering birds (including divers, skuas, shearwaters, sea ducks and shore birds)

This area is always an extremely popular destination for our group coach outings and this talk will be an opportunity to hear from an expert ornithologist.

Coach Trip Saturday 23rd March – Upper Teesdale Returning c7:30pm Cost: £23

We daren’t leave this trip out now as it is a firm favourite with everyone and often the first to become fully booked, despite the likelihood of rain dampening the proceedings! Stopping first near High Force, we walk along the River Tees looking for displaying snipe, lapwing and riverside birds such as dipper and grey wagtail. At lunchtime, we will drive further up the valley looking for lekking black grouse before parking near the Langdon Beck Hotel with an optional walk to Widdybank Fell. We have had wheatear, golden plover and some years, newly-arrived male ring ouzels sitting out in the open singing loudly to proclaim their territory. But we can’t guarantee the same every year!

There are public toilets and refreshments at High Force and also toilets in the Langdon Beck Hotel but please buy something if you use these. The new Landlady, Jane, surpassed our expectations last year with a large choice of cakes and teas and coffees especially for our group. A welcome treat after returning from Widdybank Fell! This walk does involve some uneven terrain and some hills but a basic level of fitness should be sufficient and all walks are optional.

Indoor Meeting Wednesday 17th April – To be confirmed in the Winter/Spring newsletter

Outdoor Meeting Saturday 20th April – Eccup Walk Meet 9:30am at New Inn, Eccup No charge

Iain has honed this walk to perfection promising us all three wagtails last year and clearly bribing a smart male yellow wagtail to sit on overhead wires and sing for us in the very first field! The pied and grey wagtails also kept their promises to appear and we were also treated to several spring migrant arrivals. The roughly 5-mile route takes us along green lanes towards ‘Emmerdale’ and back over towards Eccup Reservoir before returning along the road to the New Inn.

After the walk, we book a table for us to have lunch together and it is a perfect opportunity to get to know each other better! So, whilst there is no need to book to attend the walk, if you want to be included in the booking for lunch, then please pre-book on the usual booking number.

Sturdy footwear is essential as paths can be muddy and uneven and don’t forget to bring your binoculars, suncream and a bottle of water!

Coach Trip Saturday 27th April – Far Ings and North Cave Wetlands
Returning c6:45pm Cost: £23

These two reserves complement each other being either side of the Humber estuary but being vastly different. We spend the morning at Far Ings driving to North Cave at lunchtime. Far Ings runs along the side of the Humber, with flooded lagoons home to breeding water birds while the trees and bushes between host returning warblers singing to establish territories amidst the resident birds. Water voles can sometimes be seen in the drains. North Cave is an inland YWT reserve which is improving and developing every time we visit. We usually manage to find the breeding Mediterranean gulls in amongst the black-headeds!

Both have good level paths though some areas may be muddy if the weather has been wet. There are toilets at both sites and hot drinks and ice creams at Far Ings. The Wild Bird Café may or may not be present at North Cave so I suggest you do not rely on it for your lunchtime bacon sandwich!

Coach Trip Saturday 11th May – Idle Valley Nature Reserve Returning c6:30pm Cost: £23

It has been around 10 years since we last visited this Notts Wildlife Trust reserve so time for another visit. The 430 hectare site around the River Idle is the product of restoration work following years of aggregate extraction and now plays host to a wide variety of birds. Turtle doves still come here, though can be very elusive, and there are usually lots of hobby hawking for dragonflies.

We can take a walk on the far side of the reserve first moving on to the area round the Visitor Centre later or you can elect to walk between the two areas. Tracks are reasonably good though can become muddy after rain. The Visitor Centre has toilets and a café with light refreshments served until 3pm.

Weekend Trip to Anglesey Friday 17th – Sunday 19th May

Coach Trip Saturday 15th June – River Tees walk to High Force Returning c7.30pm Cost £23

Although in the same area as our Upper Teesdale trip in March, this takes in a different part of this beautiful valley and is a true walk along the River Tees. The coach will drop us off at Gibson’s Cave to see the waterfall before we walk over the fell through farmland where we hope to encounter breeding waders. We then drop down towards the river stopping to eat our packed lunches beside the bridge across the river. The walk then takes us along the riverbank where we will be looking at the flowers and butterflies as well as keeping an eye open for young dippers, common sandpipers, grey wagtails and passerines in the riverside trees. We will finish at High Force where the coach will be waiting to take us home.

The paths are not at all level and there are several stiles along the way. The total walk is a distance of approx. 5-6 miles. The only toilets are at High Force but there are plenty of bushes! There will be the option of staying on the coach to High Force and amusing yourself there all day where there are toilets and a pub!

RSPB Leeds Local Group Meetings Information

Coach Outings:

  • Depart from Sovereign Street opposite the KPMG building, Leeds at 8:30am prompt (7:30am for early starts). The coach will also pick up at 8:10am (7:10am for early starts) from Alwoodley Park and Ride car park on King Lane, LS17 6BY.
  • Return times are approximate!
  • For further information and bookings contact our Reservations Officer, Pauline Hogg on 07722 120540
  • Children under 12 travel at half price
  • Please bring a packed lunch, waterproofs and sturdy footwear on all trips

Indoor Meetings:

  • Meetings start at 7:30pm – Group Members £4.00, Non-members £5.00
  • St Chad’s Parish Centre is set back from the Otley Road (A660), approximately 1 mile south of the Leeds Ring Road and 3 miles north of the City Centre. No parking on Otley Road please.
  • Parking for up to 50 cars around the venue and up the road to the church
  • Wheelchair access is available with disabled parking near the front doors
  • There are many buses which run along Otley Road from the city centre out towards Headingley and the outer suburbs, including the 1, 6, 8 and 27. Check Metro for the most up to date information.