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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Aug' 18

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - August Sightings


The month was marked by the continuing drought, with the occasional heavy thunder storm doing little to halt the last remaining areas of open water from shrinking. Aside from a steady trickle of passage waders, it felt a bit similar of late with little new in the way of highlights. However, up to three Garganey lingered and the male Pintail from the breeding pair put in yet another couple of sporadic appearances, whilst the build up in the evening duck flight onto the pool at Wheldrake Ings attracted up to 300 Mallard and 50 Teal.  20+ Grey Herons and 8 Little Egrets showed a slight decline on previous months, no doubt reflecting the drying conditions, whilst the same conditions presumably accounted for drawing the Water Rails out on the pool and scrape at Wheldrake to show well, with at least 11 individuals recorded. Two Common Cranes were reported over Hagg Bridge on the 25th with yet another Great White Egret on the 31st.  


The first returning Merlin appeared at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th with a family party of five Hobbies over Bank Island the previous day – with almost daily sightings throughout the valley. Two lingering cream crown Marsh Harriers were joined by an adult pair mid month and others thereafter (at least six birds involved). Red Kites were also regularly recorded, whilst a rehabilitated juvenile was released at North Duffield carrs on the 8th. Another Osprey passed through on the 27th whilst Peregrine sightings picked up towards month end. 



Wader passage was little more than a trickle with two Golden Plover, single Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, four Common Sandpipers, six Whimbrel, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, four late Curlew (11th) and a Spotted Redshank (23rd). Up to 29 Common Snipe were feeding on the pool at Wheldrake, which as usual accounted for the majority of Green Sandpiper records – up to nine regularly with a peak of 15 on the 15th. The family party of three fledged Common Terns departed quickly after fledging (also attracting additional passage birds), whilst good numbers of Kingfishers continued to show (or at least be vocal) at several sites. The first two autumn passage Whinchats were found on the 11th, building up to five on the 28th, whilst good numbers of Yellow Wagtails headed south later in the month along with a single Tree Pipit. The re-appearance of Jays at Wheldrake felt more autumnal. Equally, warbler passage continued albeit at lower levels than in recent years, whilst several Nuthatch were recorded from mid-month – presumably local dispersal from breeding sites. 


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



BIRDS:


Greylag Goose – 68 were present at East Cottingwith on the 17th with 23 at Wheldrake Ings on the 19th, but otherwise just small single figure counts from the valley. 350 + were feeding on stubbles between Elvington and Grimston Bar on the 22nd and 23rd – presumably birds roosting at the Heslington East Campus, as they were joined by c15 Snow Geese on the 23rd. 600+ present there on the 29th


Canada Goose – 25 passed over Bank Island on the 23rd – the peak count for the month with most birds having not yet returned from the moulting sites further north.  


Egyptian Goose – A single pair remained at East Cottingwith throughout. 


Teal – 50 were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with 27 there on the 10th and 22 on the 17th. 40 + were present on the 19th
 

Pintail – A single eclipse drake was present at Wheldrake on the 1st with the adult breeding male caught in eclipse plumage on the 9th


Mallard – 300+ were present at the evening flight at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th


Garganey – A single drake was still present at Wheldrake on the pool on the 1st, remaining and showing well until the 10th with three were present on the 11th. Two remained between the 12th17th with one thereafter until month end. 

 
Garganey - Wheldrake Ings - 15/08 - DB



Gadwall – Up to 13 were present early in the month at North Duffield Carrs, with up to 15 at Wheldrake and smaller numbers scattered elsewhere. 11 were still present at North Duffield on the 15th when a further 10 were recorded elsewhere.


Shoveler – A single unfledged brood remained on the pool at Wheldrake on the 1st when a further 20 birds flew into roost. 


Grey Heron – Up to six were present at Bank Island on the 1st and 2nd when eight were also at Wheldrake Ings. Nine were there on the 7th and 9th, with up to five at Bank Island around this time – an estimated 20+ throughout the valley. 11 at Wheldrake on the 23rd with 12 there on the 27th and 18 on the 30th


Little Egret – Smaller numbers remained early in the month with three at Bank Island on the 1st along with two at North Duffield Carrs and five at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd. Three were still at Wheldrake on the 8th when up to eight were scattered throughout, by now, a rather dry site. Two on the river bank at Thorganby on the 14th, followed by five throughout the site on the 16th and nine on the 17th. Six were at Bank Island on the 19th including a colour-ringed bird (yellow T, red H). One or two remained thereafter as the site continued to dry out. 

 
Little Egrets - Wheldrake - 19/08 - DB



Great White Egret – One flew into Bank Island with two Grey Herons early morning on the 31st before heading off east (CSR).


Common Crane – Two were reported via Birdguides heading over Hagg Bride on the 26th.


Osprey – A single fishing near Tower Hide on the 27th flew off towards Sutton-upon-Derwent (DB). 


Red Kite – Present almost daily at Wheldrake early in the month with two there on the 4th along with a single at Canal Head, Pocklington on the 5th. A rehabilitated juvenile was ringed and released at North Duffield Carrs on the 8th where it flew strongly off towards Aughton (JT et al). 


Marsh Harrier – Presently daily at Wheldrake early in the month with two cream crowns regularly in the valley throughout. An adult male and female were present at Wheldrake on the 10th with presumably the same birds at North Duffield Carrs the next day. Cream crowns were again present at North Duffield and Wheldrake on the 14th, whilst three were present at Wheldrake on the 17th. Later in the month up to three cream crowns, a single adult female, an adult male and a second year male were all present – at least six individuals involved but presumably others moved through. On the 31st five were present - pair with 3 juvs (SW).

 
Marsh Harrier - Wheldrake - 27/08 - DB



Peregrine – One over Thorganby on the 19th whilst one powered low over Wheldrake in hot pusuit of a small wader on the 29th. On the same day a single male was picked up at Elvington and taken into care but unfortunately had to be put to sleep.  


Hobby – One headed over Bank Island on the 2nd with another near Melbourne on the 5th - regular sightings followed thereafter from both sites. A single caught and ate a House Martin at the pool at Wheldrake on the 7th. A family party of five were present at Bank Island on the 14th with one at Elvington on the 17th, Dunnington on the 19th, two over North Duffield village on the 21st and a family party of four at Thorganby on the 23rd. Two were still at Wheldrake on the 27th


Merlin – The first returning bird, a male, was present at Wheldrake on the 15th.


Water Rail – Up to three adults and three fledged juveniles were present on the scrape at Swantails Ings on the 1st and 2nd, with up to three unfledged young (2 broods) on the pool there at the same time. Five juveniles were present at Swantail Ings on the 11th with regular sightings thereafter.


Moorhen – Up to 30 birds frequented the pool at Wheldrake throughout the month with 10 on the river bank at Thorganby on the 14th


Little Ringed Plover – A single on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th


Ringed Plover – An adult and immature paused on the pool at Wheldrake Ings briefly on the 23rd


Golden Plover – Two flew south over Thorganby on the 8th


Lapwing –  Numbers declined further early in the month with 54 at Wheldrake on the 1st


Dunlin – A single was present on the pool on the 9th-11th.


Ruff – A single on the pool at Wheldrake on the 4th with another there on the 19th-21st

 
Ruff - Wheldrake - 19/08 - DB



Common Snipe – The pool at Wheldrake held the largest concentration and most obvious birds with 12 there on the 2nd and 18 on the 3rd. Numbers increased to 29 there on the 8th as other sites continued to dry out. 21 were at Bank Island on the 23rd with a further 17 at Wheldrake – a total of 38 between the sites. 30+ remained to month end. 


Black-tailed Godwit – Eight were present at Wheldrake throughout the day on the 3rd with two recorded from there on the 8th. A single immature was present on the 14th-21st.


Curlew – Two were still present in fields by North Duffield Carrs on the 8th with two at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th, and four at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th. A single was present at Wheldrake on the 26th


Whimbrel – Single calling birds passed over Wheldrake and Ellerton on the night of the 31st/1st and again at Ellerton during the night of the 1st/2nd, with a lone bird calling south over Wheldrake at dusk on the 2nd. Two flew into the pool at Wheldrake at dawn on the 8th.


Redshank – A single juvenile was present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 6th


Spotted Redshank – A single flew into Bank Island calling on the 23rd.


Greenshank – A single was present on the pool at Wheldrake on the 14th with one on the banks of the River Derwent at Ellerton on the 16th, and another or the same at Wheldrake from the 19th-23rd. Another single was at Wheldrake on the 29th with presumably the same at Bank Island on the 30th.


Green Sandpiper – 10 were present at Wheldrake on the 1st (with three also present along Melbourne and Thornton Ings), followed by 12 there on the 2nd, nine on the 3rd and eight on the 4th. Nine were present at this key site again on the 8th- 11th, whilst nine then remained regularly thereafter with peaks of 12 on the 14th, 15 onthe 15th and 13 on the 17th. 15 were present again between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 19th followed by 11 between Bank Island and Wheldrake from the 20th-23rd. Up to 13 remained on the 26th/27th between those two sites with 11 on the 29th.


17 new birds caught and ringed by month end suggesting some degree of turnover, with a further single immature ringed on the 9th being retrapped on the 29th, having gained weight and laid down fat deposits. This represents about 25 - 35% of the average UK ringing totals for this species.  A total of 15 of these were immature birds suggesting a successful breeding season further north, the adults having completed or suspended wing moult by month end. 

 
Green Sandpiper - Wheldrake - 01/08 - DB



Common Sandpiper – Four remained at Wheldrake on the 1st with three there on the 2nd-4th and one on the 5th. A single paused briefly there on the 29th


Wood Sandpiper – A single was present briefly on the 1st


Common Tern – Four flew over Elvington on the 1st when a further single joined the pair at Wheldrake briefly. The Wheldrake Ings brood fledged on the 2nd when the first chick was seen taking a short exploration flight around the pool. All three youngsters were seen on the wing on the 6th. A total of 8 birds were present there on the 7th with them all departing the following day. A total of two pairs bred in the valley fledging six young.


Cuckoo – A single juvenile was at North Duffield Carrs on the 16th.


Turtle Dove – A single flew over the reserve base on the 29th – presumably a passage bird.  Only the second record of the year. 


Jay – A single at Wheldrake on the 11th followed by three there on 14th gave a more autumnal feel.


Kingfisher – Several individuals were active around Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings early in the month, with a further pair present throughout at Elvington Lock. A pair bred near Melbourne Arm on the Pocklington Canal with at least three fledged young seen there on the 2nd and 5th and regularly thereafter. Seven at Wheldrake on the 9th with one at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th.  


Nightjar – One immature was seen well a couple of times as it was flushed near Nightjar heath (FM, JC). 


Whinchat – Singles were present at Tower Hide and Swantail Hide at Wheldrake on the 11th – the first of the autumn (CSR, DB), with another at the same site on the 18th (DB, JL). A single was present again on the 23rd followed by three there on the 27th/28th, with another two at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th (JC/CSR) and four at Wheldrake Ings on the 29th, with two remaining on the 31st.


Swallow – A noticable southward passage through the valley was noted on the 11th with 300 south over Wheldrake on the 11th. Over 1000 were present over the main meadow there on the 15th


House Martin – Small numbers moved south over Wheldrake with 50+ on the 11th.


Swift – Many local birds started to move off early in the month with one over Wheldrake on the 11th. Numbers reduced further thereafter with just singles recorded over the Ings at month end. 


Yellow Wagtail – Good numbers headed south over the valley throughout with 20+ at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th. 30+ headed south over Wheldrake during the morning of the 29th whilst 20 were present there at dusk on the same date.


Tree Pipit – A single flew south at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th


Spotted Flycatcher – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th (JL). 


Willow Warbler – Autumn passage was well below par with just a trickle of birds moving through the site and ringing totals well down on previous years. Interestingly, coastal ringing and migration sites logged higher than usual numbers. 


Blackcap – Following the departure of most local breeding birds early in the month, a second wave of presumed passage birds were noted later in the month in the ringers nets and confirmed by a count of 12 at Wheldrake on the 27th (MFJ).


Reed Warbler – Good numbers of local breeding birds were joined by passage birds moving through the site.


Willow Tit – A single was present at Skipwith Common NNR on the 2nd with three near Melbourne Arm, Melbourne on the 8th. Two were present there on the 17th with two at Wheldrake on the 27th


Marsh Tit – A single bird was present at Skipwith Common NNR on the 2nd.


Nuthatch – A single calling bird was present at Skipwith Common NNR on the 2nd. Singles were also recorded in Melbourne on the 17th, Thorganby on the 19th, followed by three at Wheldrake on the 25th, two on the 27th and a single calling there on the 28th. One was calling at Bank Island on the 31st whilst two were heard calling in roadside Oaks between Thorganby and Wheldrake on the same day.


Crossbill – Three calling birds flew over Canal Head, Pockington on the 5th (DB).


Starling – 300+ were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 2nd.




MAMMALS:


Brown Hare – Two at Bank Island on the 4th and a single at Thorganby on the 14th, followed by singles at Bank Island on the 25th, Wheldrake on the 26th and North Duffield Carrs on the 28th.


Red Fox – Singles at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st, 4th and 25th.


Roe Deer – Singles at Wheldrake on the 4th, 8th, 12th, 15th and 26th.




BUTTERFLIES:


Red Admiral – Two at Bank Island on the 18th followed by one on the 21st.


Peacock – Three at Wheldrake on the 4th, followed by singles at Skipwith Common on the 7th and Wheldrake on the 18th.


Small Tortoiseshell – Two at Bank Island on the 18th followed by one on the 21st and 30th.


Painted Lady – Three were along the riverside track at Wheldrake on the 10th followed by three in the reserve base garden on the 11th. Singles present at Bank Island on the 18th, 19th and 21st. Two were still present there on the 29th when a single was also recorded at Wheldrake Ings. During the butterfly transect on the 30th three were seen in the NNR base garden.


Comma – Two at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th were followed by three in the reserve base garden on the 11th. Two were recorded during the butterfly transect on the 30th.


Small Copper – Singles at the reserve base on the 7th, 10th, 21st and 25th, along with one at Wheldrake on the 11th.


Brown Argus – Two were present at the reserve base garden on the 2nd when a single was also recorded on Skipwith Common, with several present at Skipwith Common on the 5th (a site which has previously been known to support a colony). Five were then present regularly at the reserve base garden thereafter until the 16th. Three were still on the wing on the 17th with four there on the 18th. Up to four remained thereafter until the 23rd when a single was present at Thorganby. Just one remained at the NNR base on the 27th.


Common Blue – Single at the NNR base on the 21st.


Holly Blue – A single in the reserve base garden on the 8th followed by two on the butterfly transect on the 21st.


Brimstone – Single at Church Bridge, Melbourne, on the 4th.


Large White – Nine were recorded on the butterfly transect between Bank Island and the riverside track to Wheldrake Ings on the 21st, followed by 6 on the 30th.


Small White - 21 were recorded on the butterfly transect between Bank Island and the riverside track to Wheldrake Ings on the 21st, followed by 7 on the 30th.


Speckled Wood – 6 at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th were followed by 6 at Skipwith on the 7th and 2 at Wheldrake on the 8th. On the 12th 3 were recorded at Bank Island with 11 at Wheldrake on the same day. A flurry of records was then had with 4 at Bank Island and 11 at Wheldrake on the 18th, and 4 at Bank Island and 18 at Wheldrake on the 19th. During the butterfly transect on the 21st another high count of 17 was had. On the 25th 5 were at Bank Island with 13 at Wheldrake on the same date, followed by 3 at Bank Island and 14 at Wheldrake on the 27th. Five were recorded during the butterfly transect on the 30th.


Meadow Brown – Single at Bank Island on the 4th.


Gatekeeper – Single at Skipwith Common on the 7th.


Purple Hairstreak – Recorded from various locations: the car park lane at Wheldrake, the large road side Oaks between Wheldrake and Thorganby, a Thorganby garden and small roadside Oaks near Dunnington – probably more widespread than previously thought.




DRAGONFLIES:


Southern Hawker – Two at Wheldrake Ings on 11th, followed by singles on the 18th, 19th and 25th.


Common Hawker – One at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th.


Brown Hawker – A good year for this species with large numbers present throughout the month.


Ruddy Darter – Present throughout on Wheldrake Ings and Skipwith Common NNR.


Common Darter – Present throughout on Wheldrake Ings and Skipwith Common NNR.


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