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.

Friday, 13 April 2018

04/04/18 - Black-necked Grebes

It's been somewhat of a grebe bonanza in the valley lately, no doubt the extensive, deeper floodwaters of late attracting these diving species into the valley. This has included up to 18 Little Grebes, which can been located by listening out for their loud ‘whinnying’ call, and are usually the most commonly encountered species on the Ings. Several pairs of Great-crested Grebes have also been present on the Ings floodwater, as is typical at this time of year as birds move through the area looking for suitable water bodies on which to breed. The last species seen recently is the rarer Black-necked Grebe. With fewer than 100 pairs in the UK, this small black grebe with golden ear tufts, has bred sporadically in the valley over the decades but not since 2014 when they last reared chicks.  Amazingly, one of the birds seen recently at North Duffield Carrs, had been ringed as a chick there in May 2004, and had been seen again there in April 2005 and 2006. This recent sighting sets a new longevity record from ringing in both the UK and Europe – great to see them back in the valley once again and hopefully this year they might stay and breed.

As mentioned above, the site is extensively flooded at the moment (and has been so on and off for much of the last four weeks), however our team did manage to fit in a bit of a count over the weekend. It may have been Easter but the vast numbers of wintering birds still present made it feel more wintry. 68 Whooper Swans and 117 Mute Swans were still present, along with over 6000 Wigeon and 5000 Teal. Other notable counts included nearly 400 Pintail, 368 Tufted Duck and 250+ Gadwall and Shoveler. However numbers of wintering Pochard had dwindled to just 15 individuals on the flooded Ings. The deep water which has attracted the good numbers of grebe species, has unfortunately forced out most of our breeding waders, with only 50 Lapwing, 51 Redshank, 15 Ruff and a handful of Curlew and Snipe remained on the few areas of exposed meadow. At least one of the 39 Black-tailed Godwits present on Friday took the rising levels as a cue to continue its north-westward migration to Iceland, arriving at Leighton Moss in Lancashire the following morning. As always when visiting the reserve please leave any records in the hide log books provided, thank you.

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