March/April – wildfowl ringing continued apace with 100 Shelduck caught and handled during the month, including 77 new birds but perhaps more pleasingly, various old friends from earlier years. All were fitted with our black and white darvics so hopefully there will be re-sightings to come. A rehabilitated Red Kite ringed and released at Thornton Ellers in March was another new species to be ringed in the LDV. It was an amazing sight to watch it soar away, especially as it was probably only hours away from death by illegal poisoning when found. A total of 10 Grey Heron youngsters were ringed in the colony near Wheldrake and were the first to be fitted with colour-rings in the hope of increasing our knowledge of their movements around the area. Finally, the second half of April saw the return of the spring passage roost of Whimbrel and yet more old friends – some being incredibly site and date specific in their habits.
May/June – flooding from late April was to set the scene for the remainder of the year, but the Whimbrel monitoring continued into early May as usual with great results and a record number of returning individuals. The work was also featured on the BBC News and Countryfile, raising the profile of our work and that of the BTO ringing scheme. Large numbers of Swifts feeding over the Ings were to be a feature of the summer months, but provided a few hours of ‘flicking’ entertainment in May when a sample of 48 were ringed. Two Cuckoos caught and ringed on Skipwith Common reflected the number of birds at the stronghold site and one was well appreciated by a group of local BTCV volunteers working on the site. With extensive flooding in the LDV options were limited and with a complete failure of breeding waders, increased effort into checking the long running Barn Owl and Kestrel nest box scheme was fruitful and yet another great way to engage with the local farming community. One of the highlights of the year came this month when a Black-necked Grebe, colour ringed as a chick in 2004 was seen back at its natal site attempting to breed.
November/December – a rather poor end to the year with the LDV almost completely submerged under the biggest flood since 2000. A trip into York city centre to ring, but perhaps more importantly to engage with the public, some Waxwings gave a colourful and more exotic diversion. A single Stonechat caught on Skipwith Common was the first to be colour-ringed in the area, and an unexpected Chiffchaff at Bank Island was the sole bird to be ringed in December.
The full totals for 2012 will be posted on here over the next week or so but in the meantime we would like to say a big thank you to all those who have been involved in any way with our activities in the LDV. The effort, dedication, support and help, in getting permissions, finding birds, ringing, reading colour-rings and generally helping keep the enthusiasm and humour going has all been invaluable. There are too many to mention individually but the LDV Team would particularly like to thank -
Mark Fletcher & Robin Ward, for their time and expertise in cannon netting, plus visiting ringers - Dan Lombard, Chris Brown & Eric Wood.
Peter Reid, for supplying superb whoosh nets and wheatear.biz for other excellent equipment and back up support.
Jean Thorpe, for doing an amazing job in caring for and rehabilitating injured birds and other wildlife to try and ensure their return to the wild.
Sam Brown, Marie Allen, Adam I'Anson, Sam Walker, James Roberts, John Cahill & Mike Butler for helping out in the summer and spending many an hour in ditches, sometimes without waders, helping to catch ducklings, herd swans or push the coral. It wouldn’t have been possible without you all.
All the landowners, particularly CCT, YWT and Escrick Park Estate for permission to ring on their land.
Russ, Andy, Tim & Chris for the regular bird info and for helping out with checking for colour-ringed birds.
Lastly a big thank you to you - our readers and followers! Here's hoping for a bird filled 2013 for us all!