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.

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Monday, 14 May 2012

09/05/12 - Trap happy

During the last couple of weeks several Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails have been reported around the Ellerton/Storwood area - a favoured location of passage birds moving through the valley. However, having been so busy we've not had time to act this, but on Wednesday afternoon whilst out Whimbrel'ing we finally managed to call in at Ellerton where the birds have been regularly seen on the local muck heaps. On arrival a female Wheatear and a stunningly bright male Yellow Wagtail were present. Soon after the traps were set two male Wheatears were also spotted - these two birds were much more interested in the mealworms and only a short time later the first bird went in, a stunning male!

Greenland Wheatear - first year male

We aged this bird as a first summer due to the buff edged juvenile coverts (amongst other features). It was also completely full of fat, (fat score 4), indicating that this bird is likely to be on the move soon to its more northerly breeding grounds. Wheatears usually appear in the valley between mid March and late May in spring, and with birds from early May onwards often presumed to be of the race leucorhoa, the so called 'Greenland Wheatear', breeding in Iceland and Greenland. They tend to be slighter larger and brighter in the field and also tend to have a more elongated, upright stance than European breeders. This bird was definitely a leucorhoa race  with a wing length of 108mm, (the range for Greenland is 99 - 110mm) and for the nominate race it's between 93 and 102mm. 

Whilst waiting for the other Wheatear to (hopefully!) go in the trap we noticed a pair of Lapwing in the field opposite, the adult female appeared to be behaving in a manner which suggested she had young chicks nearby. The scope had already been set up looking over the field for Yellow Wagtails, another look through it resulted in spotting two young Lapwing chicks on the dirt track that went down the middle of the field, result! A quick sprint from the van ensued, and after a search through the crop we spotted the two young chicks that had sat down on the ground, almost perfectly camouflaged with their pebbley coat.

Lapwing chicks - hiding!

These chicks were believed to be 5-7 days old, and so too small for colour-rings. We hope to come back next week though to colour-ring them - if we can find them!

To finish the day off nicely we went on to catch a second Wheatear, another young male, also full to the brim with fat (fat score 5) so even more so than the last one, he'll definitely be on the move soon! Another Greenland race bird, and with a wing length of 110mm and with all that fat, he's almost certainly off to the far north of the range.

Greenland Wheatear - first year male

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