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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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

27/04/12 - ‘E’...what a night!

After another week of Whimbrel scoping we went out again on Friday to look for any new arrivals, throughout the day over 40 Whimbrel were seen, including 3 colour-ringed birds - Y/Y-O & R/R-R which have been seen a few times over the last two weeks, but the third was another ‘new’ one for the year - W/Y-P (originally ringed in 2010 - no sighting of it since until today!).

The Whimbrel were flitting between Storwood & Thorganby again (due to the flooding), they were joined at Thorganby by 90 Black-tailed Godwits – four of which had colour-rings which we managed to read off, hopefully we’ll hear back shortly where they were originally ringed, we’ll post the details on here when we find out. There was also a supporting cast of 6 Dunlin, 2 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpipers, Black Tern & 3 drake Garganey! Not a bad selection!

We started to set the nets up around 4pm which took 2 hours (there was only two of us!) to set two lines - totalling over 1000 foot of net! Whilst we were setting the nets most of the Whimbrel and all the Black-tailed Godwits were still present in the field. By 7pm, 45 Whimbrel were back in the ‘catching area’ and things were looking good with birds behind, infront and even underneath the nets. Numbers increased towards dusk with 78 counted before the light was too poor to keep a track of the comings and goings. It was however a rather light night and it seemed to take ages to get dark enough to consider going round the nets, which we finally did around 9.30pm.

It seemed rather quiet as we walked the edge of the Ings and it was clear that the water levels had risen....whilst it wasn’t a concern catching wise, we were worried that it may have further unsettled the birds that had been unable to settle into a regular routine over the last 10 days due to the flooding. However, whilst it appeared that the rising water levels had indeed moved the birds on, two Whimbrel were caught which allowed us to fulfil our aims of fitting one with a radio tag in order to locate more of the daytime feeding sites away from the protected reserve and to try and follow the roost site/roosting behaviour during the floods. 

 2012 colour-ringed Whimbrel: R/B-Y/O

2012 colour-ringed Whimbrel: R/Y-G/O

We also caught a nice summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit which was actually one of the colour-ringed birds that we'd seen during the day, what a bonus! & to top off a night of 'E' rings we also caught a Little Owl in a nearby hedge whilst we were waiting for darkness to fall - a female with a brood patch, the male was nearby too so hopefully there will be some even littler Little Owls to ring soon!

Black-tailed Godwit with colour-rings (control)

Little Owl 

The radio tracking of Whimbrel has been very useful in allowing us to locate and map the feeding fields outside the designated site. As we said in an earlier post, these are largely extensively managed pastures, usually cattle grazed, on a specific soil type. The map below shows an example of the data collected over the last eight years.

Whimbrel map

This data has allowed these fields to be targeted with agri-environment schemes to ensure suitable management for the continued appearance and use by the Whimbrel - a great example of science delivering direct nature conservation action on the ground. It also gives a real life example to concepts such as 'living landscapes', 'making space for nature' and 'nature improvement areas' - landscape scale conservation. We filmed some of the catch and tagging of the Whimbrel as requested by the BBC, which should hopefully appear on the news sometime this week....Wednesday or Thursday possibly!

Having a tagged bird amongst the staging birds also means that we are often lead to the fields used by the other feeding Whimbrel - thus allowing more targeted effort in reading colour-rings and getting re-sightings and length of stay data.

Craig & Mike fitting the radio tag

Hopefully this bird will come up trumps and give us an insight into where the rest of the birds have been feeding this year!

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