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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Friday, 13 March 2015

11/03/15 - Close encounters

During the last few weeks we've been fortunate to have close encounters with some of the wildlife on the site whilst carrying out the day to day jobs. At the end of the month, whilst putting up some more of the owl boxes around Escrick Park and repairing some of the old ones we were fortunate to come across a pair of Grey Partridge tucked in the long grass at Bank Island - with sightings few and far between it was a real treat to almost stumble upon these two. 

 Grey Partridge, male - Bank Island - 23/02/15
Grey Partridge, female - Bank Island - 23/02/15

Sadly Grey Partridge have undergone a dramatic decline in the UK over the last 30 years, in line with many other farmland bird species. Changing land management practices, intensification and speed of management operations have perhaps contributed to such declines, and possibly the competition from the vast numbers of Red-legged Partridges that are released each year for shooting. Small numbers of Greys still remain around the Lower Derwent Valley with pockets of populations in Thornton, Thorganby, Storwood and North Duffield.

Grey Partridge, male - Bank Island - 23/02/15

Earlier the same week whilst walking the floodbank and repairing parts of the fences that were damaged in the floods last year we came across a number of Redshank, 22 in total along the stretch from North Duffield to East Cottingwith. A small number have been present over the last few months but numbers are starting to increase now as the winter progresses into spring. Some birds move through the site on passage and others arrive to stay and breed on the Ings. These wintering birds tend to favour the riverbank, especially around North Duffield Carrs and Thorganby Ings where these photographs were taken.

 Redshank - Thorganby - 17/02/15

During the 1970’s wintering numbers were rather low (less than a hundred), building up to a peak of around 3-400 during the 1990’s, then reducing once again to fewer than 100 in recent winters. Redshank are medium sized waders with bright red/orange legs, a white rump and white wing panels also help make them distinctive and easy to identify in flight - also listen out for their noisy alarm call!

Redshank taking off - Thorganby - 17/02/15

Last week on Wednesday the team were at North Duffield maintaining the hides and having a general tidy up of the site, whilst there a quick scan down the river was had and we couldn't believe our luck when up bobbed the head of an Otter! For the next half hour we were very fortunate to have good and prolonged views of one of our rarely seen but much sought after species. It seemed oblivious by our presence and carried on feeding, frequently catching eels. Twice it hauled itself out on to the riverbank to eat some of the larger prey items, before eventually slipping its way back into the water and disappearing as suddenly as it had appeared.

Otter - North Duffield - 04/03/15

The Lower Derwent Valley is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for, amongst other things, Otters. The valley has always supported a reasonable population of Otters and numbers have increased over recent decades. This has not only re-addressed some of the natural balances (the Otters pushing out the Mink which has allowed the populations of some species such as Water Voles and Moorhens to recover), but it has also meant visitors to the NNR and the local area stand a better chance of seeing these elusive animals. They are still hard to see, although their tracks and spraints are regularly found, and their images are captured frequently on camera traps that are set around the reserve - as always please let us know of any sightings of any wildlife seen on the reserve via the log books in the hides.

Otter - North Duffield - 04/03/15

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