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.

Monday, 16 July 2012

10/07/12 - Spoonbill?! ;)

Well that’s what local naturalist Sydney Smith called them in the Lower Derwent Valley when he wrote his book ‘Snowden Slights - Wildfowler’. This was at the turn of the last century when they appeared to have little favour with local sportsmen and wildfowlers, adding ‘except as specimens they are not worth powder nor shot’. He was of course referring to Shoveler, back then 29 were shot in the valley between 1872 and 1882. They occurred on the Ings every winter and 5 out of 6 pairs bred on Skipwith Common in 1911.

Numbers have since increased in the LDV NNR and the site now regularly holds up to 4% of the UK and 1% of the European wintering population, and in recent years according to the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP), the LDV has been the single most important breeding site in the UK. The LDV is also an important site for contributing to the UK ringing totals, especially pulli. 

Over the course of the last three years 31 Shoveler have been ringed (2009 was a bumper year with 21 caught) but this year has been rather frustrating due to the water levels constantly being up and down and generally all over the place, resulting in a poor breeding season and unfavourable conditions for catching. 

However, last week saw a brood (or crèche) of 15 medium sized ducklings spotted behind the office at Bank Island. A quick team change into chest waders (needed to get through the gate into the field), and 20 minutes later we had caught a single Shoveler duckling - a great result in the vast expanse of very flooded and very tall grass. 

Shoveler duckling - c 3 weeks old

Showing Marie & Sam the difference from a Mallard

This is our 126th Shoveler (122 ducklings, 4 adults) to be ringed in the valley, but thanks to the WWT this is the first to be colour-ringed, which we hope will be re-sighted and add to our existing knowledge of Shoveler duckling movements. A number of recoveries from metal ringed birds have already come our way - out of a brood of two ducklings ringed in 2004, both birds made their way to Russia where they were recovered in 2005, and in 1997/98 two ducklings from the valley were recovered in France - see previous post for more details - Shoveler(ly) good.

 Shoveler duckling - yellow c/rings

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