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, it now also features wildlife and work posts, explaining we how manage the NNR for both wildlife and people.

For daily sightings please visit our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ldv_nnr (@LDV_NNR)

For details of events, volunteer tasks and wildlife images please visit our Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/Lower-Derwent-Valley-Skipwith-Common-NNR

Monday, 30 March 2020

20/03/20 - Recent work on the NNR

Earlier in the month we welcomed the first corporate group of the year from AECOM in Leeds, to help us with various management tasks across the reserves. Following an introduction to the sites, the tasks and a H&S briefing, the group enjoyed a quick check of the moth trap followed by a bird ringing demonstration. We then split into smaller groups and headed to Skipwith Common NNR, and carried out tasks including the construction of reptile hibernacula and brash piles – providing valuable habitat whilst also helping to tidy up the site after recent contractor works. Despite a quick look round the Common we didn’t manage to come across any reptiles on the day, although we should be seeing the first Adders, Grass Snakes and Common Lizards any time now on warmer days. Following lunch back at the NNR base, the team then helped us to make a number of Barn Owl, Kestrel, Little Owl and Tree Sparrow nest boxes, as well as planting the last of our remaining hedging plants. Many thanks to everyone for their efforts on the task, and to our regular band of volunteers for their help and support on the day. 

Later in the week we were back on the road, this time helping the staff at Riccall Primary School to create a new wildlife/meadow area for the pupils. Our team were busy creating a living willow hedge with tunnels for the pupils to enjoy and help manage in the future, along with hopefully providing useful materials for arts and craft sessions. Whilst there we also spent time scarifying some of the area, before adding our wildflower seed – harvested from the Ings. Many thanks as always to our great team for all their help and support. 

Friday, 13 March 2020

09/03/20 - Aviva Community Fund

We are pleased to announce that The Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley have made it through to the final round of the Aviva Community Fund, with a bid to improve access to the hides and footpath network at Bank Island. We are looking to provide c1km of ‘easy access' pathway, to link with the improvements made to the track at Wheldrake Ings last year - creating 3km of accessible footpaths between the two reserves. Our aim is to make the reserve more accessible for those who may currently find it difficult to negotiate the natural paths, including wheelchair users, young families, the elderly, partially sighted, and those who generally don’t feel comfortable with unprepared surfaces. Many of the less mobile and confident are currently excluded from some areas of the reserve, and so we’d like everybody to be able to enjoy the wildlife spectacles the reserve has to offer.

As well as working with our own volunteers and corporate groups, we will also be working with Ad Astra York - an alternative education provider set up to re-engage young people. They will help shape, plan, design and deliver aspects of the project, and in-doing so will help secure life-long skills and interests – but we also need your help as this project is a crowd funder, and whilst Aviva staff are allowed to donate money from the company to their chosen cause, we need your help to reach our ‘all or nothing’ target. Please visit our page and give what you can - every little helps- https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/bank-island-nature-reserve---access-for-all-2?fbclid=IwAR0ssNslJb6Pb0HbiGWdi7R38fUG_oJ492o3PuWMTGkANahuAzAQrROPeEk#start

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

18/02/20 - Heronies Census

Despite the recent stormy weather, many of our early nesters will be underway with breeding activity now, including our Grey Herons. Each year we monitor our local site contributing to the BTO Heronries Census, and have been doing so for the last 40 years. Our efforts, along with other volunteers, saw nearly 800 heronries visited across the UK in 2019, with the population estimate of 9,940 apparently occupied nests - representing a slight increase on the 2018 figure. Another mild winter like the one we’ve just had should further help the population. 

As well as the Heronries Census, each month we also undertake the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), with the February count showing an increase in Grey Herons - total of 36 returning birds were counted. Our latest WeBS survey also showed a total of 13 Little Egrets have already returned to the site, compared with a total of just 4 at the same time last year. Numbers will continue to increase throughout the year, so we may well be on course to break the first count of over 100 – with 85 recorded in mid-May last year. When visiting the site please do let us know about your sightings and keep an eye out of any colour-ringed birds thank you.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

14/02/20 - Gambia Tern

Whilst we're in the grip of this wintry and stormy weather, news has just filtered through of one of our Common Terns enjoying the warm sunshine of its wintering grounds – 5100km away in The Gambia in Western Africa. Following our first recovery last summer, when we heard that one of our chicks from 2018 had been seen and photographed in Merseyside, it is fantastic to now get our second recovery out of only 11 birds that have been colour-ringed since 2017 when the project began. The individual spotted in The Gambia was ringed on the Wheldrake Ings raft as a chick in July last year, from a brood of three - great to know it made it to its wintering grounds safely - here’s hoping it returns to the LDV in 2021 having spent its first summer off the African coast.

'Our' tern chick (8.87) on its wintering grounds in Africa

The Friends of the LDV purchased the first two rafts in 2017 thanks to a generous private donation, which resulted in a single pair nesting and raising two chicks to fledging. The following year, two pairs raised six young and last year, two pairs raised five young to fledging. All 13 chicks have been ringed, with 11 fitted with colour-rings in the hope of being able to follow them on their epic migrations.

With the project going well so far with just two rafts, we are delighted to reveal that this year we will have two extra rafts, which will be installed later in the spring when the floods will have hopefully receded. Many thanks to the Friends and those that have helped support them in being able to deliver these rafts, which have helped make a difference to these birds and the people who enjoy watching them around the world. If you would like to help support further work like this then please visit our Go Fund Me page – every little helps, thank you - https://www.gofundme.com/f/conserving-the-lower-derwent-valley.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

08/02/20 - Tree planting

The Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley have recently been successful in receiving another grant from The Tree Council, in order to improve the boundaries of part of the site by gapping up old traditional hedges. The generous grant of £1000 has allowed the purchase of over 1500 standard trees and hedging whips of a variety of species, including Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Guelder Rose, Hazel, Dogwood and Field Maple. The variety of species will ensure a wide range of nectar source is available throughout the spring and equally, fruit and nuts in the autumn – a welcome boost for a range of our local wildlife.

The Tree Council awards grants to help communities around the country to plant more trees, and to do something positive for their ‘treescape’ and this year following a national campaign, communities, organisations and businesses around the UK are taking the opportunity to do their bit to reduce UK carbon emissions, and improve their communities by planting trees. Many thanks to our team for their help with this project over the last few weeks, with many of the trees now planted at Thornton Ellers, North Duffield Carrs and Bank Island – and with more still to plant we’ll be teaming up with the pupils of Ad Astra next week to continue with the task.