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.

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Apr' 19

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - April Sightings

As usual, April turned out to be an exciting mix of winter departures, spring arrivals, passage birds and the onset of the breeding season, whilst records of reptiles, butterflies and other invertebrates took off as a taste of things to come.

It is hard to select particular highlights during the month, although a pair of Garganey at Bank Island from the 6th showed well daily and were enjoyed by numerous visitors. The first returning Corncrake was reported on the 24th whilst two Common Cranes were seen briefly on the 10th-12th. Wintering birds slowly departed with the last Goldeneye (17th), Whooper Swan (18th), Pink-footed Goose (19th) and White-fronted Goose and Fieldfare on the 28th. The same warm weather and southerly airflows brought a large arrival of warblers and migrants from the 19th, which also resulted in a large clear out of the last wintering waterfowl, with rapid declines in Wigeon and Teal numbers. The first returning migrants included Willow Warbler (1st), House Martin (4th), Yellow Wagtail (5th), Cuckoo (10th), Sedge Warbler (12th) and Common Whitethroat (15th). The first passage Redstart was recorded on the 18th and was shortly followed by Tree Pipit (19th), Reed Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat (20th), Swift (22nd) and Garden Warbler (27th).

Raptor watching proved successful with up to three lingering Marsh Harriers, two to three pairs of Red Kites and two immature Peregrines present to month end. Two Ospreys moved north (17th and 20th) with two passage Merlins and three Short-eared Owls. Up to seven Hobbies were present following the first on the 19th. Wader highlights included two or three passage Little Ringed Plovers, an Avocet, and a small spring passage of Jack Snipe, Spotted Redshank (8th), Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpiper and 31 Ruff. The now annual passage of Black-tailed Godwits saw between 30-60 present almost daily with a peak of 114, whilst the spring passage roost of Whimbrel built from the first bird on the 10th to 36 by the 25th with a peak of 44 before the roost moved and split making a full count difficult.

The first returning Common Tern arrived on the 22nd, with a pair checking out the tern raft at Wheldrake Ings from the 27th when an Arctic Tern flew north at Bank Island. A Sandwich Tern flew over Sutton-upon-Derwent towards Hagg Bridge on the 23rd.

Many thanks as always to everyone who has submitted records throughout the month, in particular to regular valley birder Duncan Bye, and thanks also to Duncan for the use of his photographs (credited DB).


BIRDS: 

Mute Swan – 82 non-breeding birds were present early in the month, increasing to 104 by the 22nd, with flocks of 40 at Wheldrake Ings and 51 at North Duffield Carrs. By the 15th breeding pairs were located at Sutton-upon-Derwent, Bank Island, Wheldrake Ings (two) and North Duffield Carrs (two), with 12 pairs present on the 22nd, giving a full count of 128 on that date.

Whooper Swan – Three were present at Wheldrake on the 5th with another at North Duffield Carrs on the 14th. A single was picked up and taken into care there on the 18th but later died weighing just 4kg.

Greylag Goose – The first brood of 11 goslings were present at Wheldrake on the 10th with another brood (6), seen there on the 12th when a single pair were found incubating a clutch at the Escrick Duck decoy. A full count of 128 adults and 34 goslings was had throughout the site on the 22nd, followed by 91 adults and 39 goslings at Wheldrake on the 24th and 41+ goslings there on the 29th.

Pink-footed Goose – 10 were present at Wheldrake on the 6th–8th followed by 12 there on the 9th-10th and 8 thereafter until the 15th. Two at Bank Island on the 19th with one at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th and again on the 30th

 
Pink-footed Geese - Wheldrake - 12/04 - DB


White-fronted Goose – A single European race adult was present at Wheldrake on the 22nd and again on the 27th/28th.

Canada Goose – Small numbers were present on the Ings with c15-20 pairs on surrounding water bodies in the wider area.

Egyptian Goose – Two pairs were present in the East Cottingwith area with a brood of at least two goslings seen there on the 19th.

Shelduck – 50+ were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd with up to 60 pairs recorded throughout the month across the whole site.

Wigeon – Up to 970 were still present throughout the site on the 12th, with 490 counted on the 19th and 128 on the 22nd. 33 pairs remained throughout at month end.

Teal – 780 were still present throughout the site on the 12th with 630 on the 19th and 423 on the 22nd. 197 remained throughout the site at month end.

Mallard – The first three broods appeared at Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 29th, making a total of 27 ducklings.

Garganey – A pair showed well at Bank Island on the 6th with another pair on the same date at Aughton. The Bank Island pair continued to show well from the 7th to month end, with additional pairs at Wheldrake on the 10th, 17th and 19th. Three pairs and an additional drake were present in the valley from the 22nd, with three drakes and a female at Wheldrake on the 27th (in addition to the Bank Island pair).

 
Garganey - Bank Island - 20/05 - DB


Pintail – 70+ remained at Wheldrake on the 3rd with 100+ present throughout the whole site. 56 were still present at Wheldrake on the 5th when 42 were recorded at Bank Island. 78 were still at Wheldrake on the 13th although only 59 remained the following day. 34 were present there on the 17th followed by 27 on the 20th with only four pairs then remaining at month end.

Gadwall – Good numbers remained throughout with 100+ pairs present with pursuit flighting noted.

Shoveler – 274 were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd with 220 between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 10th. 210 remained throughout the site on the 20th with pursuit flights thereafter.

Tufted Duck – 200+ were still present at Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 10th with c45-50 pairs remaining thereafter.

Goldeneye – Eight remained at Wheldrake on the 5th and 6th with six there on the 7th. A single was present at Bank Island on the 10th when 10 were at Wheldrake Ings – possibly some spring passage involved at this time. A single remained on the 17ththe last of the spring.

 
Goldeneye - Wheldrake - 05/04 - DB


Goosander – Two red heads were present on the river at Bubwith on the 8th while three red-heads and a drake spent the afternoon at Bank Island on the 10th – possibly indicating a degree of spring passage. Three were present again on the River Derwent at Bubwith on the 14th. Five red-heads and a drake flew south at Wheldrake on the 19th.

Cormorant – Up to 23 birds remained around the valley throughout the month – a single pair built a nest at Wheldrake before giving up on a presumed breeding attempt.

Little Egret – Up to 21 were present throughout the valley on the 6th with 17 at Wheldrake on the 15th and 11 on the 16th. At least 11 individuals were counted in the heronry on the 19th when 7-8 nests were occupied. Nine were counted on Wheldrake on the 28th when 18 were present throughout the whole site.

 
Little Egret - Thorganby - 19/04


Grey Heron – 25-27 occupied nests were counted in the heronry on the 19th, with good numbers of feeding adults present throughout the valley.

Great White Egret – A single at Bank Island on the 10th.

Little Grebe – Up to nine were recorded at Wheldrake on the 6th when eight were also present at Bank Island. 13 were present at Wheldrake on the 10th. Numbers decreased as the flood water receded but several pairs remained at month end.

Osprey – A single flew north-east along the Pocklington Canal at Storwood on the 17th with another over Wheldrake on the 20th.

Marsh Harrier – At least two cream-crowns were present early in the month with a male at Wheldrake on the 15th. Scarce in the second half of the month.

Peregrine – An immature bird was filmed catching a Teal at North Duffield Carrs on the 5th, whilst an immature was present at Wheldrake on the 7th-8th followed by an adult male at North Duffield on the 9th and an immature at Wheldrake again on the 10th and 19th/20th. Two were seen in the valley on the 22nd and 24th whilst an immature male was reported at Ellerton on the 29th.

Red Kite – Regular sightings during the month of up to three pairs in the area.

 
Red Kite - Wheldrake - 21/04 - DB


Hobby – The first returning bird was at Wheldrake on the 19th (CSR, DB), with another at Wheldrake on the 20th. Birds showed well daily thereafter with two at both Bank Island and Wheldrake, followed by a single at North Duffield Carrs on the 22nd with six present across the valley and a single at Skipwith Common on the 24th. A single was seen at Aughton on the 29th when three were present at Bank Island and two at Wheldrake Ings,

Merlin – Singles at North Duffield Carrs on the 5th (AW) and Wheldrake on the 16th (DB).

Grey Partridge – A pair at Ellerton Landing on the 12th with another pair at North Duffield Carrs on the 14th.

Corncrake – A single singing male was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 24th (AS).

Water Rail – Up to five singing birds at Wheldrake with five scattered singing birds elsewhere and two on Skipwith Common.

Coot – Up to 50 nesting pairs recorded during the month.  

Common Crane – Two flew over Bank Island on the 10th before flying towards the canal at Hagg Bridge, with two also reported over Skipwith Common on the 12th.

Avocet – A single was present at Bank Island on the 5th (DB) before flying off towards Wheldrake.

Oystercatcher – Up to 13-15 pairs were scattered around the valley with birds often returning to the Ings after dark.

 
Oystercatcher pair - North Duffield - 22/04


Little Ringed Plover – A single present on the scrape and gravel island at Bank Island on the 1st (DW, CSR) was still present on the 6th. A single was recorded at Wheldrake on the 16th with a pair on the scrape at Bank Island on the 19th.

Ringed Plover – One at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th-12th while a single was at Wheldrake on the 29th.

Golden Plover – 120 flew over Wheldrake on the 5th with 41 moving south-east (over Wheldrake) on the 14th when 31 also passed over Skipwith Common. Two flew west over Bank Island on the 30th.

Lapwing – The first five clutches (all of 4 eggs) were found at Aughton on the 12th. A total of 12 clutches were located during the month with up to 60 pairs present throughout.

 
Lapwing - Wheldrake - 10/04


Snipe – 100+ were recorded from the main meadow at Wheldrake on the 6th with 50+ still there on the 19th. Five drumming males were present after dark there on the 22nd with eight drummers on the site by month end.

Jack Snipe – A single was present at Wheldrake on the 6th with six there on the 15th and three on the 16th. A single remained on the 19th with two there on the 22nd.

Woodcock – A single seen alongside the path to the hides at North Duffield Carrs on the 24th was presumably a local breeder.

Dunlin – A single presumed passage bird was present on the scrapes at Bank Island on the 5th with another calling after dark there on the 22nd and the 29th.

Knot – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 7th (DB).

Ruff – Up to 31 remained throughout with one lek including 11 males and three females on the 22nd.

Black-tailed Godwit – 57 remained at Wheldrake on the 1st. A single on the new wader scrapes at Bank Island on the 4th was a nice sight and welcome reward on the upgrade of the scrapes. 47 were present at North Duffield on the 5th, with 38 also recorded at Wheldrake. 114 were recorded throughout the whole site on the 6th. 28 were at Wheldrake on the 7th with 56 there on the 8th. 10 were present at Bank Island on the 12th with 11 at Wheldrake and 10 at North Duffield, which remained on the 13th. 40 were then present at Wheldrake on the 16th with numbers up to 62 by the 17th. Six were at Bank Island on the 20th followed by 11 there on the 21st - present daily to month end, with up to 37 at Wheldrake from the 20th -26th, and up to 11 daily thereafter. 

 
Black-tailed Godwit - Wheldrake - 07/04 - DB


Curlew – Up to 60 pairs were located throughout the month. Small flocks of presumed passage birds also moved through the site including 23 at Wheldrake on the 19th.

Whimbrel – The first two returning birds were present on the 10th at Wheldrake, with possibly the same two seen again on the 16th. Six flew into Wheldrake on the morning of the 19th, with 12 between Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 20th. Seven were present daily during the day at Wheldrake thereafter, with 17 at the roost there on the 22nd (increasing to 25 on the 24th). 36 roosted at Wheldrake on the 26th with 44 there on the 27th. Thereafter the roost appeared to split making counts difficult.

Redshank – Up to 20 pairs remained throughout the month.

Spotted Redshank – A single transitionally plumaged bird was present at Wheldrake on the 8th (CSR).

Greenshank – A single at Wheldrake on the 19th with another on the 25th and 29th.  

Common Sandpiper – A single was present at Wheldrake on the 30th.

Green Sandpiper – A single was still present at Bank Island on the 1st – 6th, with a presumed second individual at Wheldrake on the 6th, 17th and 29th.  

Great Black-backed Gull – Up to 200 lingered during the daytime at North Duffield Carrs throughout the month – feeding in nearby fields.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Individuals moved through the valley during the month – usually in single figure flocks. A group of 23 were present at Bank Island on the 24th.

Common Gull – Small numbers moved through the site during the month with 11 at Bank Island on the 23rd and 40 south at Wheldrake on the 29th.

Kittiwake – A single adult appeared at Bank Island following an afternoon of thunderstorms on the 25th.

Sandwich Tern – A single flew over Sutton-upon-Derwent towards Hagg Bride on the 23rd (CSR).

Common Tern – The first returning bird was at Wheldrake on the 22nd, followed by a pair on the 27th, four on the 28th and six on the 29th

 
Common Tern pair - Wheldrake - 27/04 - DB


Arctic Tern – A single flew north-east over Bank Island in front of a thunderstorm on the 27th.

Short-eared Owl – A single at Skipwith Common NNR on the 14th was presumably a spring passage bird on the move, followed by two at Aughton on the 23rd.

Cuckoo – The first singing bird was heard at Melbourne on the 10th (NC) with birds later arriving at Elvington (two), Wheldrake and Skipwith on the 19th. Further arrivals took place with birds also present at Thorganby on the 24th, and Storwood and Bank Island on the 25th.

Swift – The first returning bird was seen at Wheldrake on the 22nd, followed by another at Bank Island on the 26th and six at Wheldrake on the 30th.

Green Woodpecker – One calling at Bank Island on the 19th.

Fieldfare – 230 flew north east over Elvington on the 1st with five north over Wheldrake on the 7th. A flock of 29 were at Wheldrake on the 12th whilst 10 flew north over Skipwith Common on the 14th. 100 flew north east over Bank Island on the 16th. Nine flew over Thorganby on the 22nd with 22 east there on the 23rd. Six were at Bank Island on the 25th with 23 there on the 26th and 35 on the 28th.

Redwing – A single was singing at the NNR base at Bank Island on the 2nd with 15 over on the 16th.

Sand Martin – 20+ were present at Bank Island on the 1st with 30 at Wheldrake on the 3rd and 7th, with 50+ there on the 8th. A single was investigating the Bank Island sand bank on the 19th with 10+ there on the 20th and 12 on the 22nd - 15 holes in the new bank showed signs of activity on the 25th. 100+ were present there on the 28th-29th.

Swallow – Two were present at Bank Island on the 1st followed by one at Wheldrake on the 3rd increasing to six by the 5th and 20 by the 8th.  Numbers remained low until a small arrival brought 50 to Bank Island on the 25th and 100+ on the 28th/29th.

House Martin – The first returning bird of the year was seen at Wheldrake on the 4th with singles at both Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 6th. 10 were present at Wheldrake on the 12th with up to 50 by month end.

Woodlark – Up to six singing males were present at Skipwith Common throughout the month.

Tree Pipit – The first two returning birds were reported at Skipwith Common on the 19th with three there on the 24th.  

Wheatear – A single on the riverbank at Aughton on the 8th and East Cottingwith on the 13th followed by one at Wheldrake on the 16th. A male was still present at East Cottingwith on the 19th with one at Bank Island on the 20th.

 
Wheatear - Aughton - 08/04


Redstart – A male at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th.

White Wagtail – A good month with a single on the new scrape at Bank Island on the 1st (DW, CSR) with the same or another on the 4th-6th and again on the 9th. One was at Wheldrake on the 12th with singles at Bank Island and East Cottingwith on the 19th.

Yellow Wagtail – Singles were seen at Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 5th (CSR, DB) with one at Bank Island on the 6th. Three were at Wheldrake on the 10th, followed by one at East Cottingwith on the 13th and two at Wheldrake on the 14th. Up to seven were present around the valley on the 19th with up to 10 daily at Wheldrake by month end. 

 
Yellow Wagtail - Wheldrake - 14/04 - DB


Raven – A single flew over Riccall heading towards Skipwith Common on the 30th (DT).

Willow Warbler – One at Bank Island on the 1st was the first for the year, with a noticeable arrival bringing 11 to the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 6th. A further arrival took place overnight on the 11th/12th with 13 singing at Wheldrake on the 12th with c30 arriving throughout the valley. Another large-scale arrival took place on the 19th.

Blackcap – Six at Wheldrake on the 12th suggested another small arrival into the area, with another arrival overnight on the 19th/20th.

Common Whitethroat – The first returning birds were heard singing at Bank Island and Spaldington on the 15th, followed by one at Thorganby on the 19th and five in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 20th. A large widescale arrival took place from the 24th.

Garden Warbler – The first returning bird was at Wheldrake on the 27th, with three there by month end.

Lesser Whitethroat – The first returning bird was heard at Bank Island on the 20th with one caught and ringed at the NNR base on the 24th, followed by a second there on the 25th and a third on the 30th.

Sedge Warbler – The first returning bird was at Wheldrake on the 12th (DB) with two there on the 17th. Nine were present at Wheldrake on the 19th with 15 recorded throughout the valley. Four were at Melbourne on the 24th and 21 at Wheldrake on the 25th. A French-ringed bird was caught there on the 29th.

Reed Warbler – The first singing bird was at Wheldrake on the 20th with two there on the 22nd and three on the 26th, on the same day the first calling bird was present on the Pocklington Canal near Melbourne. Four were at Wheldrake on the 29th.

Grasshopper Warbler – The first returning reeling bird was heard at the Low Grounds on the 20th, followed by one at Wheldrake on the 27th to month end and a single at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th. A single was caught and ringed at Wheldrake on the 29th.  

 
Grasshopper Warbler - Wheldrake - 29/04


Nuthatch – A single at Wheldrake on the 12th and again on the 22nd.

Brambling – Two were present at the Bank Island feeders on the 3rd.

Corn Bunting – Six were present at Ellerton Landing on the 12th.


MAMMALS:

Brown Hare – Singles at North Duffield Carrs on the 8th, 18th and 22nd.

Red Fox – One at Wheldrake Ings was seen regularly during the month.

Roe Deer – Present on Wheldrake Ings throughout the month.

Fallow Deer – Six were present at Bank Island on the 19th with a herd of 21 at Thorganby on the 22nd.

Mink – Singles were (unfortunately) reported from Wheldrake on the 29th and 30th.


REPTILES:

Common Lizard – Numerous sightings from Skipwith throughout the month.

Adder – Single seen on Skipwith on the 3rd, followed by two on the 8th including two ‘dancing’. Male and female seen on the 9th, followed by a mating pair on the 11th and a single male on the 18th. Two seen mating on the 19th.

Grass Snake – A sighting on the 3rd of a single on the heath was followed by one swimming on the 11th. One individual was recorded on the heath on the 17th followed by two there on the 18th, including one swimming. Three on the 23rd included a mating pair.


MOTHS:

A total of 29 species were trapped overnight, including a total of 586 individuals, including Brown Plume, Chinese Character, Herald, Iron Prominent, Least Black Arches, Marbled Brown, Mullein, Muslin, Pale Pinion, Pebble Prominent, Purple Thorn, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Swallow Prominent and Waved Umber.

 
Muslin - NNR Base - 24/04


A single male Emperor moth was recorded on Skipwith on the 24th, followed by eight there on the 30th.


BUTTERFLIES:

Orange Tip – Single males at Skipwith and Bubwith on the 8th, male and female at North Duffield on the 11th, followed by a pair and two males on Skipwith on the 17th.

Brimstone – Single males at Skipwith on the 8th and 17th.

Comma – Single at Bank Island on the 9th.

Peacock – Singles at Skipwith on the 9th and 17th.

Red Admiral – Single at Skipwith on the 17th.

Speckled Wood – The first of the year were three individuals seen at Bank Island, four at North Duffield Carrs and two at Wheldrake on the 19th, followed by four at Skipwith on the 24th and two on the 30th.

Holly Blue – Three were in a Thorganby Garden on the 22nd – first of the year.


OTHERS:

Large Red Damselfly – The first of the year was seen at Wheldrake on the 22nd.

Seven-spot Ladybird – Present on Skipwith in abundance on the 9th and 17th.

14-spot Ladybird – Single at Skipwith on the 25th.

Gorse Shieldbug – 50+ at Skipwith on the 9th.

Heather Shieldbug Single at Skipwith on the bomb bay loop on the 17th.
 

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