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 resume over the winter months, and will run alongside wildlife and work posts.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

18/02/18 - Wonderful Wigeon

When visiting the valley at the moment, one of the species which is likely to outnumber most other species present, is the whistling Wigeon, pictured below. Wigeon are one of our commonest ducks throughout the winter period in the valley, and can reach in the region of 14-15,000 birds, with numbers usually starting to peak between now and mid-March. It’s thought that this build up in numbers is the result of birds wintering further south and west in the UK, starting to head northwards and staging through the valley, refueling as they do.  Ringing recoveries for Wigeon (and a host of other waterfowl species), show birds ringed in the Trent Valley in Nottinghamshire in February, arrive in the valley in March supporting this theory. Although our peak count may be around 14-15,000 (with the usual wintering population level being around 12,000), it is likely the true number of birds using the valley over the course of a winter may be considerably higher, perhaps tens of thousands. A pair, ringed at North Duffield Carrs on the 19th December last year were both shot, together, on the south coast in Kent several days later, again suggesting a degree of turn-over in the ‘local’ flocks.

The next most numerous species currently present, is the delightful Teal, a close second behind Wigeon, and numbering 11,000+ over recent weeks. Teal numbers build from 500 in late September to 10,000+ peak count by January/February, then gradually falling to 300 by late April, and 60-100 pairs then remain to summer around the valley. The large flocks also tend to (annually) attract a Green-winged Teal, coming from the other side of the Atlantic, however they do take a bit of searching for among the masses!

Whilst admiring the large flocks of Wigeon and Teal, it's also worth looking out for our Shelduck, with birds present in the region of 114. When observing the flocks, please also keep an eye out for any colour-ringed birds. There may be 'old' birds present wearing our black and white darvics, however there may also be newly ringed birds among the flock, wearing new red and yellow darvics (with white letters), as part of a new joint project with the WWT. When visiting the reserve please leave any records and counts in the hide log books provided, or submit them directly to us via our Twitter and Facebook page, thank you. 

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