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.

For daily sightings please visit our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ldv_nnr (@LDV_NNR)

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Friday, 21 June 2013

08/06/13 - LTMN hits the road

Last week saw a flurry of activity in the Lower Derwent Valley with an influx of 30 Natural England staff and volunteers over the course of the week. This was all part of setting up the LDV as a Long Term Monitoring Network (LTMN) site. The LTMN is part of Natural England’s Integrated Monitoring Programme, which aims to provide evidence to improve our understanding of environmental change, particularly climate change, air pollution and changes in land management policy and practice. 

Rob (LTMN leader) addressing the team

A better understanding of the long-term changes will allow Natural England to advise others and to adapt our own strategies and interventions. There are currently 20 core sites in the network, which will be increased to 40 sites by the end of 2014. Most of these will be NNR's, a significant proportion of which will be those managed by Natural England.

Heading into the meadows for a long day...
Our task this week was to survey the 50 2x2metre permanent quadrats present on NE owned land in the valley on a host of individual sites and trying to record each species in every quadrat in addition to sward height, the amount of bare ground and extent of litter. This is the first full vegetation survey for the LDV site which will be subsequently repeated every four years to see what has changed and compare it with other information we are collecting on site such as weather, air pollution, bird and butterfly records and how the land has been managed.

LDV Team - NDC Quadrat#1 - dominated by Amphibious Bistort, Redshank, Marsh Bedstraw, Creeping Jenny and Common Bent, with the occasional Cuckoo Flower and Marsh Stitchwort.

All of those taking part in the surveys were given a half day training session on survey methods and more specific plant/grasses identification training. Obviously the Lower Derwent Valley has been chosen as an example of a lowland wet grassland site and monitoring here is likely to pick up on changes to climate in relation to flooding events, many of which featured on here strongly in the past 12 months!

LDV Team - NDC Quadrat#2 - dominated by Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Buttercup, Common Sorrel, Curled Dock and Autumn Hawkbit. 

Whilst the impacts on breeding birds have also been shown on this blog in recent posts and particularly over last summer, the LDV is also important for its range of grassland communities, ranging from the drier wet grassland types (MG4 in the National Vegetation Classification) through to swamp and reedbed (S1 in the NVC). Whilst the extent and species composition of the wetter communities appear to have remained largely unchanged over recent years, it is clear that the MG4 grassland (Meadow Foxtail and Greater Burnet communities) have been really squeezed back to the boundaries of the reserve. Hopefully the LTMN data will allow us to compare national trends on grasslands like this, as well as climatic variation elsewhere, to help unpick the real causes of any such change – national/global variation in climate or local river catchment changes, long term or just short term sporadic effects. 
LDV Team - NDI Quadrat#1 - dominated by Meadow Buttercup, Greater Burnet, Red Fescue, Common Bent, Red Clover, Tufted Vetch and Meadow Vetchling

Long Term Monitoring provides the baseline against which the future state of the environment can be assessed in a reliable historical context and it allows the unanticipated changes to be identified. It was also a great opportunity for a range of NE staff and volunteers to experience this NNR, share skills and get some time spent in the field with expert botanists.

 LDV Team - NDI Quadrat#2 - dominated by Glyceria and Phalaris with the occasional Marsh Horsetail and Redshank - with a Common Frog providing a welcome distraction!

It was certainly an enjoyable, if not very hot and long week, and nicely summed up by Rob Keane, Environmental Monitoring Specialist of the Integrated Monitoring Team who said ‘many thanks for allowing us to bring enjoyment and real science together on a wonderful site for all involved’.

LDV Team - East Cottingwith Quadrat#1 - dominated by Lesser Pond Sedge, Meadow Sweet, Meadow Buttercup and Marsh Bedstraw. 

Below are a selection of wildflowers taken throughout the week from various locations around the Lower Derwent Valley.   

Common Bistort

Cotton Grass

 Marsh Orchid

Ragged Robin

Cuckoo Flower

Yellow Rattle

Quaking Grass

Greater Burnet

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