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.
For daily sightings please visit our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ldv_nnr (@LDV_NNR)
For details of events, volunteer tasks and wildlife images please visit our Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/Lower-Derwent-Valley-Skipwith-Common-NNR
Friday, 6 September 2019
The team did a great job of mixing sand and cement and filling bags at the NNR base, before moving them down onto site and carefully building them up in alternative layers. By the end of the day the team had ensured that anything crossing over into this part of the reserve would have a safe passage from now on, which is likely to be soon as we begin the rotational clearance of some of the extensive ditching network on site. The timing of our task this was also quite fortunate – instead of buying in sand, we were able to reuse sand from the artificial ‘beach’ at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts ‘wild zone’ at Countryfile live weekend at Castle Howard – thanks to Anna and the team for a great bit of recycling! Thanks also to our team for their efforts on Tuesday, as well as repairing the culvert, we were also busy maintaining the footpaths and coppicing willows.
Recently whilst working on the NNR, our volunteers have also been fortunate to see some of the rehabilitated and hand-reared wildlife that Jean has been bringing in to release onto the reserve - in most cases all wildlife is returned to where it has come from, but if for any reason that is not possible, the next best thing is to release it into the best suitable habitat.
Two Tufted Duck ducklings reared by Jean, alongside a few Mallards, were released back onto the pool at Wheldrake, whilst we’ve also been privileged to see and release two juvenile Little Owls back into the valley.
The Thorganby area seems to be somewhat of a stronghold for these birds locally, with several pairs also present in the wider parish. Jean’s birds were released nearby into suitable habitat, and hopefully where they stand a good chance of finding their own territory and a mate in coming years. These birds were all ringed by Jean, which, if re-caught, will allow us to monitor their success and add to our knowledge of the local populations. Many thanks to Jean and her team of helpers at Battle Flatts Vets for all they do.
Thursday, 22 August 2019
Monday, 19 August 2019
This is actually the first Garganey to be ringed in the UK since 2012 (when we last ringed one here), so we’re hoping that an eagle-eyed birder may spot it on passage somewhere. If you haven’t seen a Garganey yet this year you haven’t got long left – they often leave in August, however at the moment one is still present on the pool at Wheldrake.
Monday, 12 August 2019
The Sparrowhawk was a second-year male – moulting from its juvenile brown plumage and acquiring its fresh new grey adult feathers - good to know it survived that all important first hard winter. We have had a few recoveries of local Sparrowhawks, including one ringed in October 1977 in Dumfries and Galloway - found in Wheldrake in February the following year – a distance of 203km. It’s certainly been a good breeding season for many of our small passerine birds, so it’s safe to say that our Sparrowhawks will no doubt be enjoying a good year too with plenty of prey available.
Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Several days after trapping the Privet Hawk-moth (above), we were then delighted to find a Pine Hawk-moth in the trap early one morning (pictured below) - a new species for the reserve this year, and one which isn't always annual.
As well as many species appearing in good numbers over recent weeks, we have also recorded several scarcer species for the reserve. During recent years we have recorded just singles of the rather stunning Oak Eggar moth, which is attracted to our light trap at Bank Island. However, this year we have already recorded six of these large and impressive moths. The Oak Eggar, surprisingly given its name, does not feed on Oak, but instead actually got its name from the fact that its cocoon is acorn-like in appearance. The food plants of the caterpillar are mainly Heather and Bilberry but also include Bramble, Willow and Hawthorn – the latter three of which are found around the NNR base at Bank Island.
Sunday, 28 July 2019
After our first catch, the following day we were amazed to receive our first re-sighting – H6 was photographed by Pete Short at Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve, further showing the links between the two reserves. When visiting the site please do let us know of any colour-ringed birds you see, or if you see any of our blue colour-ringed birds elsewhere – either by messaging us on here, via our Twitter account or by using the log books provided in the hides.
Friday, 12 July 2019
On the day that we ringed the chicks, we also received some exciting news...
Monday, 1 July 2019
We were then joined by Joe and his colleagues, and on another good weather day with warm sunshine making for a pleasant day on the reserve. Meeting at the NNR base at Bank Island, the team were able to join in with checking the moth trap, before watching a bird ringing demonstration take place. Another good catch in the moth trap was had, with the stunning Elephant and Poplar Hawk-moths being the highlight, along with a Buff-Tip which, once seen is rarely forgotten – with it resembling a broken birch twig. The morning was then spent planting the remainder of the reeds at Bank Island. Once the reeds were planted and the scrape filled with water, the team headed to Skipwith Common NNR, to help out Escrick Park Estate by making more progress tidying the leftover brash felled during the winter. Another great day was had by all, many thanks to Joe and his team, and also to our weekly Thursday group for their efforts throughout the day – improving the site for both people and wildlife.
Then last week we were delighted to welcome a third group, with Sarah and her team of staff enjoying a day working on the reserve. This is the fourth day in recent months that we have been fortunate to be joined by a new team of Aviva staff, with another two groups to follow in July. With limited resources and a vast site to manage, any help either via corporate groups or individual volunteering is so incredibly valuable, so many thanks to everyone who has helped out so far this year. Sarah and her team were fortunate to be blessed with glorious warm weather, making it a delightful day to be spent working on the NNR. After a bird ringing demonstration and checking the moth trap, the team headed to Skipwith Common NNR to continue making progress building reptile hibernacula and wildlife corridors, using the brash leftover from the winter felling works. Following a spot of lunch back in the NNR base wildlife garden, the team then spent the afternoon working in the garden, and helped us check some of our nest boxes for tits and sparrows. Many thanks as always to everyone for their efforts, and to our regular group of Thursday volunteers for welcoming Aviva and helping us run the task.
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
At present, up to 24 holes have been excavated, and last week we were thrilled to find the first pairs are already incubating clutches, with others busy lining their nests. Several birds have also started to investigate the Wheldrake bank, hopefully visitors to the pool over the summer will be able to enjoy the comings and goings as the colony increases.
This really has been a case of ‘build it and they will come’ – and in this case in just a couple of weeks. Many thanks to the Friends for their ongoing support and great work in helping deliver improvements to the reserve and adjacent area, and to everyone who has supported their work and our hard-working volunteers. Following on from the immediate success this year, we are hoping to install two more banks next year, including in front of the Geoff Smith Hide at North Duffield Carrs, however a lot of funds need to be raised beforehand. If you would like to help contribute you can do so via our Go Fund Me page (https://www.gofundme.com/conserving-the-lower-derwent-valley) – thank you.
Monday, 17 June 2019
The team were kept busy planting a range of species, including Water Dock and Greater Water Parsnip – the latter being confined to just the LDV and Hornsea Mere a few years ago. We have since managed to restore this nationally scarce and declining species to many of its traditional Yorkshire sites, and hopefully this will help secure it at yet another Yorkshire Derwent location. Many thanks to everyone involved - another great job by our fantastic team.
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Each chick was BTO ringed and then fitted with a unique colour-ring, which will allow the local birders and visitors to the Minster to follow who’s who, as they fledge in the coming weeks, but also in the longer term as they move out to find breeding sites of their own. The ringing process went very swiftly, with the chicks soon back in the nest again, shortly followed by the adults – they’d been keeping a watchful eye on us from a nearby tower whilst the ringing was being undertaken. Many thanks to Jean for organising the visit which allows us to monitor these beautiful birds, and also to the staff from York Minster for allowing access to the nest and accompanying us up the tower. Fingers crossed all four chicks fledge safely this year – we had a few false starts and crash landings last year.