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, 19 May 2017

14/05/17 - Spring

With the breeding season well underway we are now starting to see various broods appearing around the reserve. Some of the early nesters such as Grey Herons, have quite large young which should be fledging any day, before heading on the Ings to practice their feeding techniques. It appears to be a productive year for Tawny Owls with good clutch sizes reported – a total of five pairs are present around Skipwith Common NNR with other pairs in the local area now feeding young, and we’ve seen several sizeable broods of Mallard ducklings on site. Last week Jean brought in the first of her hand reared orphaned ducklings to be released on the reserve – no doubt the first of many that will get such a helping hand. The local Greylag Goose population has enjoyed a successful start to the season with up to 50 goslings already present in the crèche at Wheldrake Ings, whilst the boxes at the reserve base are a hive of activity with nesting Tree Sparrows. 

The pair of Kestrels at the NNR base have also been quite vocal lately as they re-strengthen their bond after returning to their nest site following a winter elsewhere. Over the next few weeks they will be actively defending ‘their’ box from other birds prospecting for suitable holes and other nesting sites in which to breed. The female will then start to lay a clutch of eggs, usually between 4-6, with the first young hatching in late May or early June. By mid-June we’ll think about starting our next box checks, hopefully discovering that it has been a successful season for one of our favourite birds of prey. We are always interested to hear about local breeding pairs in order to monitor the population and plan our nest box scheme to best effect to benefit these and other species. Many thanks to local wildlife photographer Terry Weston for his superb image taken recently near the valley. 

Whilst we’ve been keeping busy lately managing the reserves, we’ve also managed to squeeze in a bit of monitoring and research work with several dawn catches of wildfowl. Although most of the wintering ducks have now departed back to the breeding areas in Iceland and Western Europe, many of our local breeding ducks remain. Last week Dan and George joined us from the East Coast to gain more whoosh netting and waterfowl ringing experience which can then be applied at other sites, thus helping us to understand more about the movements of birds either breeding or passing through the region. The Lower Derwent Valley supports a large inland breeding Shelduck population, with the females possibly now incubating clutches in local hay/straw stacks, tree cavities and rabbit holes on surrounding farmland, whilst the males hold feeding territories on the Ings. The broods then appear briefly on the Ings before being taken down the River Derwent and crèched on the Upper Humber. Hopefully they will have another successful year and raise more broods like this one photographed at Thornton Ellers last year.


  1. Isn't that a merlin rather than a kestrel?

    1. Definitely a Kestrel - this might help - https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/k/kestrel/

  2. Er, yes, sorry - looking again, I think I must have let myself be fooled by the shadows obscuring colour on back, but, as you say, certainly a kestrel.
    Whilst I normally find RSPB site quite useful, have to say it wasn't much help on this one. Hume, Still et al was rather more so!