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.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

01/01/18 - HNY

Happy New Year to our staff, volunteers, supporters and visitors! 

2017 was an exceptional year in the valley, in terms of what we managed to achieve on the ground, which is down to the fantastic team of volunteers who support us each week, helping to maintain the paths and hides for our visitors, and adding extra pairs of hands for repairing gates/fences after the winter flooding, cutting the hay meadows in the summer, taking out scrub during the autumn and winter, and so much more. So a big thank you to our team for helping us achieve our goal, which is maintaining the LDV (and wider sites), both for people and wildlife. If you fancy coming along, joining in and taking part, then new volunteers are always welcome, and if week days don't suit then don't worry, we may have an alternative - we are currently in the process of setting up a weekend task day each month. Please feel free to get in touch if you think you might like to help out.

The last week before the festive break our team of staff and volunteers were busy carrying out a variety of jobs, several of the team helped the Dunnington Conservation volunteers erect a replacement Barn Owl box at Hassacarr Local Nature Reserve, much to the delight of Terry Weston and the rest of the Hassacarr team. Earlier in the week, following on from the work we recently carried out revitalising the pond and wildlife area at Long Marston School, Reserve Manager Fallon Mahon returned to attend a thank you assembly. Fallon and the team were presented with a booklet of thank you notes written by the pupils, and Ruby the piper dog, was awarded a little bag of treats – she was obviously a hit with the children!

The remainder of the week was made up of spraying Pirri-pirri-bur on Skipwith Common NNR, as well as extracting and logging up timber for next year, and getting the last few log deliveries out to the local area. Either side of the working day, several dawn and dusk cannon net catches also took place, with a sample of 160 Teal caught and ringed from the 10,000+ present in the valley at the moment. Many thanks to everyone involved – your help is much appreciated as always.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

22/12/17 - Sightings/Access

Whilst working at North Duffield Carrs recently we came across this family of Mute Swans on the River Derwent, two adults and eight cygnets – presumably the pair that reared the large brood at the ‘top pond’ over the summer. When the river floods the swans often move between the pond which can be prone to freezing over in prolonged cold spells and the open, unfrozen water of the River Derwent. After rearing cygnets over the summer some pairs chase off their young from the breeding territory once they’re old enough to look after themselves. However this pair appear a bit more relaxed and often allow the young to remain until early February, although come spring, when the male’s thoughts turn to breeding, he’ll start to ‘chase away’ the young – if they refuse to leave things can certainly get a bit aggressive!

Along with the Mute Swan family, this beautiful Pied Wagtail also caught our eye, as it scampered across the ice in search of food. Often when the valley floods numbers of wagtails seemingly increases as birds are concentrated and take advantage of suitable feeding opportunities - recently whilst working on Wheldrake Ings we noticed a group of c40 feeding on insects along the water’s edge. However you don’t have to visit the NNR to enjoy these birds – if you were Christmas shopping in York you may have seen the large wagtail roost in the trees in Parliament Street – several hundred roost there each year above the Christmas Market – lighting up the trees like little baubles!


When visiting the reserve please be aware of the new wintering bird signs that can be found along the floodbank from Bubwith to East Cottingwith, and at North Duffield Carrs/Ings, indicating the end of public rights of way and where access is not permissible. With thousands of wintering duck presently concentrated on the river, birdwatchers, walkers and dogs present on the flood banks have recently been causing considerable disturbance throughout the day, regularly flushing the birds and stopping them from feeding. Please refrain from accessing the site beyond these signs and enjoy the fantastic spectacle the valley has to offer from the various hides around the reserve.

Monday, 18 December 2017

13/12/17 - Nestle return

Last week we received some additional, and very welcome help, as a team of staff from Nestle in York joined us for a day of their volunteering allowance. The original plan was to work on Wheldrake Ings, helping the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust complete the boardwalk, but the recent flooding following last week’s snow melt forced a change of task and location. Instead, the team headed off to Skipwith Common to complete this winter’s scrub control programme - helping to maintain the internationally important mix of open wet and dry heathland communities, which support the special wildlife that visitors to the Common enjoy. Many thanks to everyone involved for a great days work and company – you’d all be welcome back anytime – and there is still the boardwalk to finish off at some point! 

Friday, 15 December 2017

07/12/17 - Winter workout

Last week our team of staff and volunteers were hard at work on Wheldrake Ings, helping out the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust by burning the remaining piles of scrub, felled earlier in the autumn. If the piles had been left it’s likely that they could have floated off in the winter floods and cause damage to the hay making machinery next summer. Any scrub piles can also host species like foxes and rats, which can adversely have an impact on our breeding bird populations if they are breeding in the heart of the reserve.

It was another cold start to the day, but once the work began and the fire was started everyone warmed up nicely. With a concentrated effort we managed to get the last pile carried to the fire and burnt before the end of the day, and now looking at the current view of the Ings – flooded up to the top of the gates – it may be the last time we work on there this winter! So not only was it well timed, but it also provided an instant success with the birds – with the area hosting a Glossy Ibis this weekend.

Friday, 8 December 2017

01/12/17 - Fieldfare arrival

Over recent days and weeks we’ve witnessed a notable influx of Fieldfares, along with other thrushes into the valley. These winter visitors arrive in the UK from October onwards from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and continental Europe, when food sources such as rowan berries, become exhausted - up to as many as 750,000 individuals can winter throughout the UK. 

Fieldfares are rather nomadic birds, moving through the country exploiting local crops of berries, and using damp grasslands and agricultural land in the search of earthworms and other invertebrates. Birds will often continue to move west and south as the winter progresses and temperatures fall – giving the origin of the name ‘feldware’ in Anglo-Saxon, which means ‘traveler of the fields’. Birds will return to the valley once again in March as they depart and head back to their breeding grounds. As always when visiting the valley please let us know of any records/sightings you come across, along with any sightings you may have from the local area.