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.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

24/06/13 - Exotic surprise

Following our successful goose catch in the Wheldrake corale, it’s been rather quiet with very few broods appearing in what appears to be a rather late season. However, following large numbers of Mallards breeding throughout the valley (up to 500 pairs), numbers of drakes are now starting to build up on the pool at Wheldrake to moult.

This resulted in a catch of six drakes in complete moult on Sunday, followed by six mallards (including two ducklings) and three Greylags today. However, it also turned up somewhat of a surprise - a female Mandarin!

Which is a surprise because Mandarin’s are a rather scarce visitor to the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, partly because the habitat isn’t quite right and what they would normally select, and secondly the nearest and rather small breeding population occurs about 60 km away to both the east and west. A total of 13 records exist for the Lower Derwent Valley NNR detailing 21 individuals, 18 of which are males, with the last, a male at Wheldrake Ings on the 27th May this year. Therefore, any Mandarin in the valley is notable, particularly so a female.

The second surprise is that this bird was in complete wing moult - and looking at the stage of it, it must have been present and flightless for a couple of weeks at least. It is remarkable that it’s gone undetected on the site for this long, only to show up in one of the traps. How many other birds must slip through the valley (relatively well watched as it is) and it will be interesting to see if it is seen again over the next three or four weeks that it is likely to be present with us.

This is only the second Mandarin to be ringed in the valley following the first on 24th April 2008 - an adult drake. Unsurprisingly there have been no recoveries of the species, although one well tracked drake in the York area did give some idea of its movements in 1983 when it was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 27th October and 12th November, followed by Castle Howard lake on the 23rd November before ‘being shot in error’ near Haxby, York, on the 26th December.

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