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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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

05/07/18 - Wader central

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts on our Facebook page, it has been a very good year for our breeding waders, including Curlew, Snipe, Redshank and the familiar Lapwing or ‘Pewit’ as they are also known. Following our intensive management efforts over recent years, numbers are slowly increasing and we’ve seen good numbers of young broods around this year. More importantly, these chicks are surviving and we are seeing plenty of fledged young around the reserve at the moment. Whilst working at North Duffield Carrs last week we came across a couple of large broods that have just fledged as well as a newly hatched brood that won’t be on the wing for another few weeks yet – possibly a replacement clutch following an earlier attempt nearby. Hopefully this good breeding success will add more birds to our local population on and around the valley in coming years, so that we can continue to enjoy the tumbling displays of these delightful waders in spring on the Ings. 

Next up is one of our favourite species - the Curlew, with its rather haunting and ‘wild’ bubbling call it is one of the delights of the valley each year during spring and early summer. Despite an alarming decline across many parts of the country we are still lucky in having a good population here, with 50 pairs on and around the NNR this year (up from 46 pairs last year). This is great news, and despite the late spring, breeding success appears to be high. Whilst undertaking work around the reserve early in the season we came across several nests with eggs and have since seen several broods. It’s not just our Corncrakes that benefit from the bird friendly mowing practices that have been carried out recently – we were delighted to come across a near fledged brood of two Curlew chicks running amongst the cut rows of drying hay on Rosewood’s Farm’s plot at North Duffield Carrs. We were also pleased to find a further Curlew chick, a bit smaller but due to fledge later in the week, at North Duffield Ings, again thanks must go to all the local farmers and contractors who have been so vigilant in keeping an eye out and slowing down for our ground nesting birds.

It’s been a really busy time of year recently, with most of it spent knee-deep in ragwort, however we’re still trying to fit in some of our survey work, including monitoring our breeding waders. Recently whilst working at North Duffield Carrs, we had this fantastic encounter with a Common Snipe. Looking ahead instead of to the side, we almost drove right on by, when at the last minute the delightful figure of a snipe caught our eye. The snipe, presumably hoping it hadn’t been seen, froze and remained perfectly still providing the opportunity for a few photographs. A rare treat indeed and just fantastic to see one up close, especially being a species which doesn’t normally show itself this well. It stayed motionless for a good five minutes, despite the flies buzzing around it, which perhaps adds to the atmosphere of the photograph. We are pleased to report that our snipe numbers are fairly good this year, with 68 drumming birds located so far – (drumming being the sound made by the displaying males as they fall through the air, vibrating their stiffened outer tail feathers). They are best heard doing this at dawn and dusk (especially the first hour after dusk and again before dawn), with the hides at North Duffield Carrs offering a great opportunity to be able to hear this strange sound of the Ings.

The last of our key wader species is the Redshank. Whilst out with the team of volunteers last week at North Duffield Carrs we were fortunate to have stunning close up views of this individual, as it used one of our fence posts as a ‘lookout’. It appeared to have a brood of unfledged young somewhere nearby in the slightly wetter low-lying vegetation. We didn’t linger for too long, pausing only for a few photographs and to enjoy the moment, then left them to it so as not to disturb them – great to see that another brood are likely to join the wider population. Breeding Redshank, like many lowland breeding waders, have suffered a large national decline, with numbers in the valley also falling dramatically in recent years. However, our recent management efforts seem to be paying off as the few remaining pairs around the Ings appear to have raised good numbers of young this year. The last of the local breeders usually move off in mid-July, with just the odd passage juvenile appearing on the pool at Wheldrake Ings from then to early October, before the wintering population starts to return with rising water levels.

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