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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Friday, 25 May 2012

22/05/12 - Swiftly does it!

The rather extensive and unseasonal flooding throughout the valley of late has been attracting huge feeding flocks of Swifts over the last 10 days or so. Counts have ranged from 500+ over Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings daily, upto an estimated 6000 over the water on the 15th. 

Strong winds and drizzle have presumably kept most of the insects close to the waters surface, meaning the Swifts have been flying low and skimming the surface of the water - providing ideal conditions for 'flicking'. This involves keeping a mist net parallel to the ground, before bringing it up quickly to 90 degrees to intercept the Swifts on their flight path at the last minute - before these aerial masters have time to manoeuvre out of the way! Other than ringing chicks this is the only way of catching these amazing birds.

Anyway, the good conditions on the 15th produced 5 flicked Swifts in 30 minutes, whilst near perfect conditions on the 21st produced a total of 22 in two short sessions. With better, warmer weather forecast over the coming week this may have been the last chance for a while, as the insects and the Swifts will probably be feeding higher up. 


Obviously the re-trap/recovery rate is rather low for these birds but amazingly we have re-trapped one of our own birds in a subsequent year! SB91509 - ringed at North Duffield Carrs as an adult on 11/05/04, was later re-trapped in the same spot on 13/05/06!! Mike & Craig were out 'flicking' around the Top Pond and it was the first bird they caught! Again, a very similar record to the Whimbrel - at the same spot - on nearly the same day a couple of years later.

We've got an exciting project coming up on Swifts later in the year - hopefully to gain a better understanding of what they use the area for and how important it is to them - and also to engage local communities to help us to look after them. The Lower Derwent Valley provides a great feeding area for Swifts so helping to secure breeding sites in the local villages should really benefit them and ensure the screaming of our Swifts in our local villages remains part of that typical mid-summer scene. 

Watch this space! 

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