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

Friday, 11 September 2020

10/09/20 - White-tailed Eagle update

Amazingly, following the news we posted earlier in the week about one of the Isle of Wight re-introduced White-tailed Eagles, we have just heard that another individual passed through the Lower Derwent Valley a little over a week ago.

The latest bird, a young female (G324) released in 2019, came round the south-west side of the City of York around 1pm on the 3rd September - skirting around Copmanthorpe before heading over Skipwith Common and to the south of Bubwith, before turning and heading south, possibly following the River Derwent towards Howden - passing over the River Ouse near Goole around 2pm. Prior to this she had been in Scotland for quite some time, and then chose to visit us on her way back to the release site on the Isle of Wight, where the project team managed to capture the image below. You can follow the fortunes and travels of these birds and the project at https://www.roydennis.org/category/sea-eagle/isle-of-wight-sea-eagles/

It’s amazing to know that three individual White-tailed Eagles have now visited or passed over the site this year – hopefully a trend that will be set to continue with more wandering young eagles around over the coming years. It is possible that the River Derwent helps to guide birds leaving the North York Moors - taking them through the Vale of York towards the Ouse/Trent confluence, and then down the Trent Valley into Lincolnshire and further south. Please do let us know if you spotted G324 on her travels through the area last week.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

02/09/20 - White-tailed Eagle

We've just found out, rather belatedly, that a White-tailed Eagle passed through the Lower Derwent Valley NNR during the summer. With its presence going undetected, we would have been none the wiser had it not been for the satellite tracker that it was wearing - this individual was one of the birds re-introduced last summer on the Isle of Wight. After roaming around the local area over there last autumn, this bird, along with another individual, headed north and spent several weeks around the North York Moors, before heading south down the River Derwent, reaching Ellerton by 4pm on the 19th July. It appeared to have roosted locally, before heading off south the following morning at 10am, passing to the east of Doncaster an hour later. By 1pm it had flown 60 miles and was skirting around the east side of Newark-upon-Trent in Nottinghamshire, before roosting at Belvoir Castle in north-east Leicestershire that evening. It then continued southwards and is now currently in Norfolk. This follows two sightings in late March of an un-tagged, presumed continental bird which was seen by a handful of observers in the LDV. Thanks to Clive Featherstone for the use of his image (WTE and Common Buzzard) – taken in Doncaster in March.

During lockdown Jean Thorpe of Ryedale Rehabilitation was been busy continuing her great work as usual – caring for raptors as well as all sorts of injured or orphaned wildlife, and victims of wildlife crime - successfully releasing many back into the wild. As well as the usual crèche of Mallard ducklings that have been released onto the reserves ditch network, we were lucky enough to enjoy releasing a Long-eared Owl earlier in the summer, and on another occasion, a Spotted Flycatcher into a local brood to be reared by ‘foster parents’. Jean also brought in a recently fledged Buzzard to release over the Ings meadow, where there are plenty of young Buzzards and Kestrels exploiting the easy hunting on the Ings with the hay cut exposing plenty of earthworks and frogs as well as small mammals. To help Jean with her work, LDV NNR volunteer, Friends of the LDV trustee and member of the Calderdale Raptor Group, Nick Carter, presented Jean (albeit distantly) with a cheque from the raptor group to support her amazing work - well done Jean and many thanks for all that you do. 

Thursday, 27 August 2020

18/08/20 - Kestrels/Buzzard expansion

Whilst our Barn Owls appear to have had a year off from breeding - linked to a fall in small mammal populations, Kestrels on the other hand appear to have done quite well. Brood sizes have been around average in the nests that we have monitored this year, and as usual, good numbers (mainly newly fledged young), have been present throughout the site - feeding amongst the hay cutting operations and using hay bales as vantage points from which to look out for small mammals, frogs, beetles and worms. This individual was photographed whilst it hunted successfully at North Duffield Carrs – one of six present in the same field. It’s a great time of year to watch birds of prey from the hides, with plenty of Buzzards and Marsh Harriers around, with Hobbies also appearing later in the evening as the Swallows gather to feed and roost on the Ings.

It’s hard to believe that even 20 years ago a sighting of a Buzzard on the Ings would have been largely unheard of and a notable record – such is the rapid range expansion and population increase that this species has undergone. A total of 12 individuals were present on or viewable from the Carrs on this day. As always when visiting the reserve please share your records with us by using the hide log books or via our social media pages, thank you.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

12/08/20 - Autumn passage

With autumn passage now underway throughout the Lower Derwent Valley, mid-August is prime time to encounter small groups of Whinchats, Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails as they appear on and around the reserve. In the case of Whinchats and Wheatears, these individuals will be birds that have bred further north in the English Uplands - now heading south to their wintering grounds in Africa. North Duffield Carrs and Swantail Ings at Wheldrake are the favoured locations, with smaller numbers appearing elsewhere around the reserve. 

Yellow Wagtails appear to have had a good breeding season around the reserve this year, with up to 40 roosting in the reed bed at Wheldrake Ings, along with smaller numbers present around the site during the day. All the above species will be around until mid-September, before we eagerly await their return again in late March and early April next year. When visiting the reserve please do let us know what you see by using the log books provided, or via social media.

Over all it’s been a mixed year for our summer migrants, with Sedge Warblers in particular seeming to not have fared well, despite the large numbers of singing adults earlier in the spring. We certainly haven’t seen or ringed many young as of yet, but it does show the value of our long-term monitoring programmes in tracking the annual fortunes of our breeding birds. On the other hand, Whitethroats seem to have fared better, with numerous family parties observed throughout the site during the summer, like this recently fledged juvenile photographed by Duncan Bye at Bank Island. We are now also seeing passage Whitethroats moving through the site – birds which have bred further north starting their southerly migrations onwards to the African wintering grounds.

Friday, 14 August 2020

07/08/20 - Work on the NNR resumes

It has been a strange time on the reserve during lockdown restrictions, however we are now slowly re-starting our volunteering opportunities – all carefully risk assessed and modified to take into account social distancing measures. Over the last few weeks the Friends have also been helping out with the volunteers, either working alone or in small groups to deliver some of our ongoing work for a range of partners. This work has included seed harvesting, bracken spraying, Himalayan Balsam pulling and strimming, as well as helping out the local community by cutting and raking the churchyard in Ellerton and the Orchard in Thorganby for Carstairs Countryside Trust. Many thanks to everyone for their help and understanding during these difficult times, and for their support in working in these new and different ways.

Seed harvesting

Himalayan Balsam pulling

Cutting the churchyard in Ellerton

Raking and cutting the Orchard in Thorganby