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.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

20/05/18 - Corncrakes, Hobbies & Garganey

We were delighted to hear the first returning Corncrake of the year recently at North Duffield Carrs – calling from right in front of the first hide. Given its location in front of the hide we are releasing the news so local people, birdwatchers and visitors alike have the chance to hear these amazing birds at the only, non-introduced, regular English breeding site. We are also delighted as yet another year with returning Corncrakes again supports the fact that they have been breeding successfully in previous years, as a result of the efforts from the team here and our partners (our volunteers in finding and monitoring locations of calling birds, providing early and late season cover for the birds, working with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, landowners and local farmers to delay the hay cuts within the birds territories, and with our friends at Rosewood Farm to introduce Corncrake friendly mowing). It’s great to know our collective efforts are helping bring back this iconic species to the Yorkshire Ings.



Over the last few weeks we’ve also been treated to spectacular views of Hobbies, (on Wheldrake Ings), with up to eight individuals present in the air over and perhaps as many as 13 in the wider LDV area. These birds really are aerial masters, expertly catching dragonflies (and even mayflies and other insects) in their talons before passing them to their beaks to eat on the wing as they continue to feed over the pool. Pool and Swantail Hide are the best places to view them at present, particularly during the afternoon, with birds often coming lower and closer towards dusk as their insect prey descends. Hobbies are the only falcon in Britain that spend the winter months in North Africa, coming to the UK from mid-April and staying until late September and early October, so enjoy them whilst you can! Many thanks to local birder David Gilfillan for the use of his superb photograph taken recently from Swantail Hide, Wheldrake.



In the LDV this spring we have also seen good numbers of Garganey (our only summer migrant duck species) - birds arrive in this country from their African wintering grounds from mid-March, remaining until late August-early September. The drakes are stunningly colourful, with a beautiful chestnut brown head with prominent white stripe above the eye, and distinctive pale blue forewing in flight. However they are a scarce, un-obtrusive and quite secretive species, often only their call giving away their presence, much like an old football rattle and hence its old English name of ‘Cricket Teal’. With only around 100-150 pairs in the UK, the Lower Derwent Valley is something of a stronghold for the species in Northern England – and this year probably offers one of the best chances to encounter the species. With up to 13 birds around the valley, including nine drakes, it’s a great time to search them out before the grass grows further and they seemingly ‘disappear’. The pool at Wheldrake Ings, the hides at North Duffield Carrs (especially the appropriately named ‘Garganey Hide’ are the best places to look for them. Many thanks to local birder Duncan Bye for the use of his photograph, taken recently from Wheldrake Ings.


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