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.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

28/01/17 - A busy year

2016: What a year - starting with one of the biggest January floods and finishing with one of the driest Decembers on record. By the middle of February the water was (very slowly), starting to recede, allowing us, and our new team of eager volunteers to start work on repairing the path and hide at North Duffield Carrs. The work at NDC kept the team busy throughout March and into April, when we then switched to weed wiping the floodbanks, transforming the base wildlife garden and giving a helping hand at Pillmoor and Plumpton Rocks. The first breeding bird surveys and butterfly transects began, and moth trapping resumed at the NNR base. DEFRA and Ad Astra also lent a hand on Skipwith Common, helping to make wildlife corridors from recently cut birch scrub. The first order of the LDV blank greetings cards arrived and the first talk of the year took place to the River Waveney Trust in Suffolk. 

Flooded out at NDC
Flood repairs underway
Nick & Sandra preparing the garden
Fence repairs on the Common
Successful day working with DEFRA
Ad Astra youth group get stuck in
New LDV greetings cards
Moth trapping resumes

During May a start was made on the resurrection of the Escrick Duck Decoy and the last of the flood repair jobs were carried out, along with the construction of several wood sheds at the NNR base to store our newly cut timber. A start was also made building many Swift boxes in conjunction with a new project involving the local communities and schools, and a helping hand was given by insurance company Aviva. Several visits were made to the local heronry with a pleasing number of chicks reared, and the successful transportation of geese from York University was undertaken. For the majority of June and July, pulling ragwort across the Ings meadows took priority, along with fitting in the start of our nest box checks and our annual goose round-up. Several (incredibly hot) days were also spent at Wheldrake clearing scrub from around the pool, and carrying out repairs to the swan pipe in preparation for the autumn. In July several of our staff and volunteers attended the ‘Graftas’ award ceremony at the London Wetlands Centre – after being nominated for and winning ‘volunteer group of the year’.

 Progress in the duck decoy
 New wood shed under construction
 Corporate work day with Aviva
 Successful Swift visit to Wheldrake school
 Heron chick
 Geese release
 Hand pulling Marsh Ragwort
Aviva return

August and September were largely spent at Thornton Ellers, making green hay and transporting it to sites in the surrounding area such as Leven Carrs and Skerne YWT reserve, with a number of days also spent at Wheldrake Ings removing and burning willows, and strimming the island vegetation at NDC. Our tractor also came out of hibernation, with flailing undertaken at Bank Island, Wheldrake, NDC and along the river bank. Jean came in to help out on what was a very popular and successful open day, and released yet another raptor back into the wild - a Common Buzzard, pictured here at the NNR Base. and A helping hand was also given at Hornsea Mere, helping to clear scrub from the island. The annual cygnet ringing took place at NDC, along with the last Barn Owls broods of the year ringed. We also had the good fortunate of several corporate work days with Aviva, Nestle and Amey.

 Spreading the green hay
 Tending to the path at NDC
 Habitat management
 Flailing at Wheldrake
 Release of a Common Buzzard
 Open Day success
 Road trip to Hornsea Mere
Corporate work day with Amey

In October the flailing was finished before the site began to ‘wet up’, and our attentions were switched back to the duck decoy, along with many a day spent clearing scrub at North Duffield Carrs. The yearly task of spraying pirri-pirri on Skipwith Common also began, along with the design and arrival of the new 2017 LDV calendar. The autumn was also spent visiting bird, gardening and walking clubs across the county with talks given by our Senior Reserve Manager. During November days were spent on Skipwith Common NNR clearing out the Pillwort ponds and removing birch scrub from the heath, a job which carried on throughout most of December – just as the valley started to flood. A day was spent at Jean's dismantling her old aviaries, the hide at the duck decoy was finished and the last gull catch of 2016 was had. That’s the year in a (very small) nutshell! Much more went on but it just wouldn’t be possible to list it all on here! Many thanks to all those involved in the valley during 2016, everything we achieved wouldn’t have been possible without all the extra help that our dedicated volunteers give us each week. Here’s to 2017!

 Sandra loading up the mule
 Cameron spraying on Skipwith
 Finishing touches to the decoy hide
 Dismantling Jean's aviaries
 Opening up the Pillwort ponds
 Gull catch at Rufforth Tip
 Splitting timber - for sale
 Nick removing birch on the Common

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