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, 13 December 2018

28/11/18 - Back into the wild

It's always nice to be able to share a good news story – last week the hard-working Jean Thorpe worked her magic on the young cygnet pictured below, after finding it down on the ground and in distress having broken its wing on one of its first flights. It was unclear how this had happened, possibly the result of a crash landing from hitting overhead wires, but following some expert care from the vets at Battle Flatts at Stamford Bridge and Jean, Jean was able to bring it into the reserve for release on Friday last week. 

Having located a non-territorial, non-breeding herd of other Mute Swans on the River Derwent, the cygnet was released to join them, free to use the river as a safe haven to continue her recovery and regain the power of flight. It was wonderful to see her accepted by the flock that almost appeared to come over and meet her, and welcome her to the group as they swam off down the river. Well done once again to everyone involved in her rescue, care and rehabilitation, but especially to Jean for all her efforts week in week out, and for being so dedicated. 

This week Jean also brought a Little Grebe into the base before it was ringed and released onto the River Derwent at Wheldrake. It had been found downed in a garden, but had largely escaped being stalked and grabbed by a cat, with just a few scratches. Upon release onto the river it swam off quite happily, diving and feeding, before, typically, disappearing into emergent vegetation to hide – fantastic to watch and share with Jean. 

Little Grebes (wonderfully known as ‘Tom Puddings’ in the valley at the turn of the 19th Century), are regular and widespread breeding birds on the spring floods – but often build up in numbers on the River Derwent and Pocklington Canal at this time of year. Up to 17 were counted along the river between Wheldrake and Bubwith bridge last week – a notable count and perhaps higher than average as many ponds and other sites are still suffering from low levels. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

22/11/18 - Greylag movement

Amongst a recent batch of ringing recoveries received from the BTO, via our partners at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, came quite an extraordinary movement of one of our Greylag Geese - relating to a gosling caught with our team of volunteers in the annual round up on the 30th May 2017, pictured below. It was subsequently found on Sanday, on the Scottish Island of Orkney – c604km to the north-east on 8th September 2018. This is by far the furthest one of ‘our’ 1200 Greylags has been reported – most seem to head south towards the Humber estuary and down into Lincolnshire, whilst some move north-west towards the Harrogate and Ripon area. We’ve had two more into Scotland before, to Dumfries and Galloway and to Loch Eye in the Highlands, but not as far as this individual which also made a significant flight across the North Sea. 

From Greylag Geese ringed elsewhere there is also growing evidence that birds from the valley take part in the developing moult migration to Cumbria and the Lake District by Yorkshire birds, whilst we’ve also had several Icelandic birds and three from Sweden seen in the valley – so whilst they may just appear to be a local Greylag Goose, who knows where they may have come from. We still have so much to find about these birds – please let us know if you come across any of the birds wearing colour-rings in and around the area.   

Monday, 3 December 2018

18/11/18 - Autumn on the Common

It's been looking rather autumnal on Skipwith Common over recent weeks, with the amazing seasonal colours of the birch and oak trees lining the tracks through this beautiful NNR. The Common is a great place to visit if you fancy a fairly ‘easy’ walk, whilst keeping an eye out for the wildlife that live there, there’s always plenty to look out for. 

Recently whilst we’ve been working on the reserve we’ve come across some weird and wonderful fungi – including the well known Fly Agaric and the aptly named, Orange Peel. Like its name suggests, the orange cups often resemble discarded orange peel strewn on the ground, often on embankments or slightly raised ground, or amongst grass and herbs at the edge of woodland. If you spot one there will probably be more nearby, with it being a species that usually grows in clusters, and although it is widespread in the UK it isn’t a particularly common species – feel free to let us know if you spot any fungi or other wildlife when visiting the Common, either on here or our Twitter account, thank you.

The Common is also a good place to enjoy Jays at this time of year, as they are easier to see now the leaves are thinning and whilst they are busy stock piling acorns for the winter. Winter flocks of tits and Lesser Redpoll can also be seen roaming around the site, usually staying high in the tree tops – listen out for the high pitched and rather nasally calls of these flocks, which may also have something else with them.

Wintering warblers, such as Chiffchaff and Blackcap, sometimes follow the flocks searching for food, with both having been seen recently moving around in tit flocks. In the next few weeks we also expect to see an increase in wintering Woodcock, with these birds coming across from Eastern Europe and Russia, to winter with us on the Common, whilst our scrub clearing team flushed a small Jack Snipe from one of the wet heaths last week. Please keep dogs on leads when visiting the site to reduce disturbance at what is a difficult time of year for many of our wintering wildlife – and to avoid disturbance to the livestock (Hebridean Sheep and Exmoor Ponies) that help graze the reserve.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

10/11/18 - New LDV calendar

Following the results of the British Wildlife Photography Awards being announced and made public last week, we can now reveal that our 2019 Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley calendar is on sale. With a new format and layout, it’s bigger and better than ever before, with 24 large and 40 thumbnail images taken by @LucyMurg, including three images either ‘shortlisted’ or awarded ‘highly commended’ by the judges in the BWPAwards. 

All the photographs have been taken either in the Lower Derwent Valley or nearby Skipwith Common, and reflect what you could find by visiting during each month. Not only is it our best calendar yet but it’s the cheapest too – it’s a bargain at just £6 this year, and makes the ideal Christmas gift for anyone with an interest in birds, wildflowers, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and the local area. All proceeds to go back into the ‘Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley’ to help support conservation projects in the area, and ensure the amazing variety of wildlife found here and showcased in this calendar, continues to thrive. Feel free to message us on here to arrange collection/postage if you’d like one, and don’t delay, numbers available are limited this year, thank you. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

08/11/18 - British Wildlife Photography Awards

Many of our regular visitors to our Facebook page and Twitter account may know that the information included within them are brought to life by the photographs taken in and around the valley by @LucyMurg. Lucy’s photographs really showcase the wildlife the valley has to offer, and so we were delighted and very proud to find out that one of Lucy's images was included in this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards.

Lucy's captivating image of two Grass Snakes coiled together in the bomb bay walls on Skipwith Common NNR, was awarded highly commended by the judges in the Portrait category - to achieve this award, amongst the thousands of entries is no mean feat – so a huge well done to Lucy from all of us here in the LDV. Lucy has been down to London this week to see her image featured in the exhibition at the Mall Galleries in Trafalgar Square, where it will be on show until the 11th, before touring the country with the rest of the award-winning images.