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.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

25/04/12 - Whimbrel: Three more returnees!

It’s been a strange spring with some individual spring migrants appearing very early whilst the majority of them are still to arrive, most are thought to be waiting in Spain and southern Europe having been held up by a weather front. It’s affected lots of migrants but it appears to have held up the return of the Whimbrel too. So far it’s been more of a steady arrival than usual but numbers are slowly building up, and it just means we have to work a bit harder to try and find them and read colour-rings in the longer grass when they do return! 

At the weekend Craig was out & about around the valley looking for Whimbrel and on Sunday he managed to pick out a new colour-ringed bird for this year (Orange - Lime/Yellow, originally ringed in 2006) as well as the three also seen a few days ago. On Monday Lucy scoped the fields around the Storwood area and had 13 birds - four of which had colour-rings including yet another new sighting, Pink - Lime/Red, this time a bird originally ringed in 2010.

Yesterday (Tuesday 24th) we had the highest count so far this year, with atleast 28 birds counted throughout the valley. Lucy & Jean scoped the fields around Storwood and Thorganby and picked out three colour-ringed birds, two already reported this year but another new one was also present: Red - Red/Red, originally ringed in 2008. Below are the full histories for the three 'new' colour-ringed Whimbrel.

Whimbrel: Orange - Lime/Yellow

2006 - Ringed on 5th May.
2011 - Re-sighted on 29th April.
2012 - Re-sighted on Sunday (22nd April) by CR.

Whimbrel: Pink - Lime/Red

2010 - Ringed on 2nd May.
2012 - Re-sighted on Monday (23rd April) by LM.

Whimbrel: Red - Red/Red

2008 - Ringed on 25th April, followed by regular sightings until 2nd May.
2012 - Re-sighted on Tuesday (24th April) by LM/JT.

If the passage runs as normal we are now about a third of the way through. Although the number of birds present is low  (about half the normal number expected for the date), 6 of the 100 colour-ringed birds ringed since 2004 have been seen so far this year, compared with 14 during the full roost period during 2011. It may well be that there are more birds out there that we don't know about or haven’t seen yet, so there’s still plenty of checking to do. Also, there have been years in the past such as 1992 and 1997 when the peak numbers were much later than usual - 6th and 9th May, so numbers may reach a sizeable peak yet. There is some suggestion from the bird information services that birds are finally reaching Britian, with 52 at Rye Harbour on 23rd April (another spring passage site) and larger numbers moving through other sites. We also heard from Peter Roworth on Monday (23rd) and 10 were present at Saltfleetby & Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR.

Several evenings have been spent at Wheldrake waiting for the birds to come into roost, however due to a large part of the valley being flooded at the moment (see photos below) the Whimbrel are unable to come in to roost at this traditional site. Their behaviour is completely different this year and mirrors that of 2004 when we last had a large spring flood during the roosting period. It is also making it hard to count the number present as we yet don’t think we’ve found all the daytime feeding birds or been able to count them accurately at a single roost - watch this space for further updates....

A flooded Bank Island - 20th April 2012

Below is a view from Swantail Hide on Wheldrake Ings (traditionally the favoured roost site for the Whimbrel) - this photograph was taken almost two weeks ago and since then with all the rain that has fallen (55+mm) the whole site is completely flooded, we couldn’t even get to this hide to take a comparison photograph!

The floods have undoubtedly caused heavy losses to many breeding waders and some waterfowl nests have been lost, but we’ve also seen the first Greylag and Mallard broods appearing. The wetter conditions have also proved attractive to other species with over 200 Tufted Ducks arriving in recent days. We’ve also seen two Black-necked Grebes appear so it may be a good breeding year for them again - keep an eye out for a forthcoming post on the results of our Black-necked Grebe colour-ringing project - we might even get the chance to extend it this year!

 View from Swantail Hide on Wheldrake Ings - 13th April 2012

Rather wet drought conditions...!!

1 comment:

  1. Today (26th) more movement of Whimbrel at Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR with 32 birds sighted by JR & PCR and a further 20ish reported by a local birder further north near Donna Nook NNR. Needless to say we searched in vain for rings but alas nothing...yet!