Welcome to the LDV NNR ringing blog, this blog is designed to share the experiences, findings and tales from a group of dedicated ringers. We specialise in conservation orientated research projects, largely focusing on wildfowl, waders, owls and birds of conservation concern, in and around the Vale of York NNR's.

NB - Whilst the purpose of this blog was initially designed to cover our nationally important wildfowl ringing activities, regular readers may have noticed the increase in posts detailing wildlife found across the valley (ranging from plants, fungi, butterflies, dragonflies & other invertebrates). Ringing posts will hopefully resume over the winter months, and will run alongside wildlife and work posts.

Monday, 8 October 2018

26/09/18 - Corporate work parties

Over the last few weeks we've been very fortunate to have hosted three corporate work parties with teams from Lloyds Bank, Aviva and Defra. The amount of work we are able to achieve with so many extra pairs of hands really does make such a massive difference to the site, and in terms of making it better for both wildlife and people. 

With a huge team from Lloyds, 22 in total, along with 5 of our regular volunteers, everyone soon made light work of the tasks that had been chosen for the day. Half of the team tackled scrub clearance on Wheldrake Ings, whilst the other half headed off to collect and process timber to add to our log store, which will help to supply our customers this winter. 

Blessed with good weather everyone enjoyed working outdoors - a change from their usual surroundings, and made good use of the NNR base garden during lunch. Nick & Sandra also checked the moth trap and explained about moth trapping on the NNR, making it an informative and enjoyable day for all. 

A week later groups from Aviva and Defra made further progress clearing and burning scrub on the reserve, however we also managed to fit in a bird ringing demonstration and moth trapping session at the NNR base. A selection of birds were caught and ringed, including a Chiffchaff, Blackcap and two Treecreepers, allowing us to show and explain the process of ringing and the role NNR’s have in monitoring populations and delivering scientific evidence. Moth trapping is starting to slow down now but 60 moths were caught overnight including a Small Blood-vein, a late Burnished Brass and several Red-line Quaker. Many thanks to everyone involved for their efforts. 

If you work for an organisation that offers corporate work days and would like to find out more about what we can offer, then please feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and can choose tasks to suit. We still have several more to come this autumn, with teams from Aviva, HSBC and HSE. Corporate tasks really help to make a huge difference to what we can achieve on site, so many thanks to everyone who has made a contribution throughout the year.

Friday, 5 October 2018

18/09/18 - Tawny Owls

This week we had a close encounter with a beautiful Tawny Owl, when wildlife photographer Mark Hughes called into the NNR base at Bank Island with a young, fledged bird that had been hit by a car, and picked up from the side of a road. Our team of young people from Ad Astra took this bird to Battle Flatts vets at Stamford Bridge so it could be checked over by Mark (especially its eyes which can be damaged during vehicle collisions), before it headed onward into the care of Jean for her expert TLC and rehabilitation. It was then great for Mike and his team from Ad Astra to be involved in its release, as it was desperate to be out and back in the wild. Jean also brought back an adult male Kestrel to be released at the other side of the reserve near Thornton – originally found half drowned in a water trough having fallen in and becoming waterlogged. Presumably a local breeding bird with a territory in the area - great to know it’s back out there – well done Jean and team.

Over the last few weeks as the nights start to draw in we’ve been hearing more (Tawny Owls) calling, with one bird regularly heard from the green roof of the reserve base. Birds are more vocal at this time of year as young birds start to disperse from their natal sites, seldom ranging very far as they look to find their own territories. Tawny Owls are a widespread breeding species with c50,000 pairs in England, Wales and Scotland, however despite Tawny Owls being our most familiar owl, there's still much we have to learn about them. In order to help fill in some of those gaps the BTO are running a survey that anyone can help contribute to - this simple survey involves listening for their call from gardens or other green spaces this autumn and winter. By taking part you'll help to increase the understanding of their behaviour and distribution, particularly focusing on the impact of urbanisation and artificial lighting – we’ll be sending in our records from around the reserve. Visit the website https://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/project-owl/tawny-owl-calling-survey for more information and to sign up for this great citizen science project. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

12/09/18 - Wader ringing

With the dry conditions and dwindling water levels around the reserve over the last month, the ringing team have been able to take advantage of the conditions and the opportunity to catch and ring some passage waders. With little inland wader ringing taking place across the country some of the results from the valley add significant numbers to the national totals and data set. Using wader nets set during the hours of darkness, the team have managed to catch 26 Common Snipe, 17 Green Sandpiper, a single Wood Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover, as well as 7 Teal and 2 Mallards over the last month. 

The sandpiper totals are particularly noteworthy – 17 Green Sandpipers represents about 25-35% of the annual UK ringing totals, whilst only around 4 or 5 Wood Sandpipers are ringed in the UK each year. Likewise, the annual ringing totals for snipe average around 400, so another 26 from the valley will hopefully add further to our knowledge of these birds and how they use the valley throughout the year. It’s likely that will be it now for wader ringing this year, as the last remaining pools look set to dry up any day now, which will see ‘our’ sandpipers head further south, into Europe and Northern Africa for the winter.

Wood Sandpiper

Monday, 17 September 2018

10/09/18 - Signs, hides, logs

Last week we had another great day working with our ever-growing band of volunteers. After introducing new team member Tim to the group, as well as welcoming back Dave, the team got to work on a range of tasks. First off several of the team put in the new way marker posts between Bank Island/Wheldrake and alongside the riverside path - all part of the visitor improvements works that have been slowly transforming the site this summer and autumn. These posts way mark the routes to different parts of the reserve, including the hides and the distances between them. 

Another group made a few more upgrades to Tower Hide at Wheldrake in preparation for the new interpretation panels, whilst Sandra cut the paths to the Bank Island hides and along the riverside path to the Wheldrake car park. 

As well as all that the team even managed to split another 8 cubic meters of logs to stack away ready for the spring – filling up the space recently freed up in the wood sheds as the orders start to pick up the pace. Many thanks to the team for their great efforts as usual – and to everyone who has ordered recently helping us to refill and keep up with demand through the winter and into next year.


Thursday, 6 September 2018

25/08/18 - Amey return

Last week we were delighted to welcome back our friends from the York branch of Amey for their annual corporate volunteering trip to the valley. With 12 eager and willing sets of hands, the team, helped out and guided by Nick and Sandra, swiftly got to work helping out the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust deliver an upgrade to the track to both Pool and Swantail Hides at Wheldrake Ings. Around 5 tonnes of stone was moved via the mule and wheelbarrow, along with plenty of shovelling to fill in a missing piece of path, whilst others in the team helped unearth and resurface parts of the existing track. 

This work means that visitors to the site will now have an easier visit to the NNR, without the need to wade through the water and mud to visit the hides in the winter, and follows the first stage of upgrading the riverside track to Tower Hide earlier in the summer. The team even found time to help coppice some of the willows surrounding the track to help keep it from overgrowing quite so quickly. Many thanks to everyone for their efforts during the day - we’re looking forward to next year already. If your company or team are looking for a day out in pleasant surroundings, and fancy doing a bit of conservation work then please get in touch.