Tuesday, 7 October 2014

An Urban/Suburban Patch

This is my first post on urban patching in North Leeds, or what the townie can do to enhance his birding. I took up the PWC gauntlet for the first time this year after spending a fair bit of time last year sussing out the location of an area to call 'my patch'. By canny use of the mapping tool on the PWC website I was able to get the bulk of Eccup Reservoir and a couple of decent stands of oldish woodland (Adel Dam and Breary Marsh) into my 3 square kilometers, it also included one of the more popular parks (Golden Acre) but that couldn't be helped.

Adel Dam looking towards the lake

Eccup Reservoir looking West from dam wall

 So far I've made less than 2 dozen visits due to circumstances beyond my control but have managed to get to 67 species for a princely 69 points, considering I'd got a list of 58 species over 30 years of occasionally visiting the same area prior to the challenge I think that is a fairly positive result. Most of my visits have been early morning to avoid conflict with dog-walkers but this has paid off in that I have found a couple of Shelduck on Golden Acre Park lake at 06.30 on a March Sunday morning that had flown by 07.00 never to be seen again, a site first. At Eccup I found a small group of Ringed Plover before 09.00 that again had flown when I passed on the way back to the car, I was hissed at by a partially fledged Tawny Owl chick. At Adel Dams I've been lucky enough to see a male Sparrowhawk catching it's breakfast, male Great Tit if you are interested, a pair of Treecreeper investigating loose bark for nest sites and best of all watched a Stoat scurrying across an open glade.

There are a few species I expected to see but haven't, most noticeably, Green Woodpecker and Pochard, a species I didn't expect to see was the Grey Wagtail that overwintered by the foulest bit of mud and water at Adel Dam.

Wagtail heaven.
Eccup reservoir has been a bit of a let down due to the visibility of the water being very limited due partly to the maintenance work on the supply pipes lowering the water level dramatically but more to the vegetation that has been allowed to spring up inside the boundary fence, this making it inaccessible to 'pruning'. Most of the records for the site this year have been of birds seen through gaps in an almost complete wall of trees and shrubs, which has been a bit frustrating sometimes. 

What you are up against at Eccup
However last Sunday, having an hour spare at the end of the afternoon I did my usual route along the South edge of the reservoir. I was bemoaning the lack of visibility as per normal on the way out but on the way back to the car the vegetation inside the fence was brilliant, as a flock of mixed passerines worked their way through it, giving me a site record in Treecreeper and loads of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches, a Chiffchaff and at least 3 Wrens.

What has been an eye-opener for me has been the sheer abundance of birds that I normally associate with the countryside, breeding Curlew within the Leeds boundary along with Oystercatcher and Buzzards (at least 3 birds on occasions).

I know I'm probably never going to get a bird that will be in with a chance of the Bresser and Forest Optics Best Find prize but I can live in hope.


  1. A genuinely interesting post on PWC - brilliant!

  2. Thanks for your kind words Mark - I will try to keep up the standard with my next post

  3. Wow, that's a trip down memory lane - thanks for posting this. Adel Dam and Eccup used to be my two home patches in the early 1980s. Glad to see they're still being enjoyed.