Wildlife on campus

University of Leeds
4 min readAug 18, 2022

The University of Leeds city campus is located at the end of a wildlife corridor into the heart of the city and provides valuable habitat for many species of wildlife. The University has committed to becoming exemplars of urban biodiversity by recognising the limitations of an urban landscape and using new and innovative approaches to providing habitats where biodiversity can thrive. These include providing green roofs on all new bike shelters, vertical planting wherever possible as well as installing hedgehog tunnels, bug hotels, bird boxes, beehives and much more!

Hear what’s buzzing in St George’s Fields, what the grey heron is up to and if you are lucky maybe you can spot a peregrine on the Parkinson Tower?

Hedgehog friendly campus

University of Leeds has been a part of the national Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme and currently holds silver status. This scheme encourages the development of suitable habitats for hedgehogs, supporting training for our grounds teams and advising with how we can adopt more hedgehog-friendly management approaches on the campus. We have a number of hedgehog tunnels and shelters hidden around the campus and University residences and our Student Biodiversity Ambassadors lead the programme as well as monitoring the other species that call our campus home.

Biodiversity monitoring

Our award-winning Urban Biodiversity Monitoring Programme brings together students and staff who are passionate about nature, love to notice little things around them or those who want to learn more about what flora and fauna that surrounds us on campus. Led by Student Biodiversity Ambassadors, they provide training for volunteers who then conduct regular surveys to improve our understanding of the campus, which in turn can inform how we adapt our approach to management — part of the University’s Living Lab. Want to know where to spot bluebells, wild garlic, damselflies and much more? Get involved in biodiversity monitoring both on campus and at Bodington Fields.

Beekeeping

Bee on a lavender flower.

Did you know there are several beehives across the campus? They are our hidden gems located in three locations — Behind the School of Earth and Environment, St George’s Field and on the Laidlaw Library rooftop. They are home to literally thousands of honeybees which are taken care of by our staff beekeeper network. Next time you’re on campus see how many you can spot!

Roger Stevens Pond

Water lilies on Roger Stevens pond.

The Roger Stevens Pond has transformed the heart of our campus into a flagship site for urban biodiversity and a living lab for research and teaching. Home to herons, fish, ducks and countless insects, it was originally constructed as a cooling water retainer! It is located on a rooftop and spent many years as an ornamental pond before being transformed a couple of years ago into a hotspot for biodiversity, scientific research and teaching at the University. Although the ducks frequented the pond prior to the upgrade, after we installed the unique floating islands in 2018, and with the introduction of fish to the pond, we soon attracted local herons and other wildlife. Adding to the availability of freshwater to the area, we have now recorded bats in the summer evenings and many invertebrates are now present including dragonflies and damselflies. This space has been thriving ever since and as it continues to grow, improves every year!

Have you seen the big grey bird stood tall in the pond? It’s our much loved grey heron, although it’s thought there may actually be more than one visiting our campus at different times. They are migratory birds that reside across an extensive range in Africa, Europe and Asia and we are lucky to have them on our campus.

Peregrines

For a number of years, the Parkinson Tower has provided nesting for Peregrine Falcons .These birds are given the highest level of legal protection in the UK and we are incredibly proud to provide them with a home. They are the fastest birds in the world, who, when hunting can reach speeds up to 200 mph (321kph)!

Their breeding season starts at the beginning of a New Year with egg laying in March/April. After approximately 30 days of incubation, the baby chicks hatch. Never seen a peregrine? No worries! You can observe these wild birds during the nesting season on two cameras installed on the Tower.

We are lucky to be located amongst the beautiful landscape of Yorkshire, surrounded by three National Parks with unique biodiversity. More than ever, we need to preserve these unique habitats as they face rapid changes in their natural environments.

So next time you’re on campus, take a moment and look a little closer, listen harder and clap your eyes on a heron relaxing at the Roger Steven’s Pond, or rabbits hopping around the School of Music and lose yourself in the beautiful nature our campus offers.

Get in touch with the Sustainability Service to get involved. Email us on sustainablity@leeds.ac.uk

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