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.

Apr '17

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - April Sightings 

Throughout April a number of highlights were had, starting with two Great White Egrets on the 1st/2nd, with at least one lingering until the 8th. An impressive 19 Little Egrets were also present (including four pairs incubating by month end), along with up to six Common Cranes between the 8th and 22nd, although they were fairly difficult to catch up with as they toured around the valley and wider farmland. As wintering waterfowl numbers generally decreased the last two Whooper Swans were noted on the 2nd along with four Scaup until the 8th and up to 106 non-breeding Mute Swans. 

Whilst Marsh Harriers, Red Kites and Peregrines remained throughout three Ospreys were recorded on spring passage, with the first returning Hobby appearing on the 13th shortly followed by a notable arrival during the last week of the month.

Wader passage also picked up as expected with a pair of Avocets (3rd-6th), accompanied by both Little Ringed and Ringed Plover. The now usual spring passage flocks of Black-tailed Godwit peaked with 120 on the 19th which amassed to over 400 passage birds, in addition to the wintering flock of 30+. First’s of the year included Greenshank (13th), Green Sandpiper (14th) and Common Sandpiper (22nd). Three further Greenshank and a Wood Sandpiper appeared on the 30th, when a large movement of waders and terns inland in the country also brought two Arctic Terns and four Black Terns on the last day of the month. Also caught up in this movement was a sub-adult Gannet, more usually recorded in early autumn, which flew east over the A19 towards North Duffield Carrs on the 30th, whilst an adult Little Gull (10th) and a late Glaucous Gull (4th) were more expected.

Summer migrants continued to appear during the month with first dates including Sedge Warbler (9th), Yellow Wagtail and Lesser Whitethroat (11th), Whitethroat (15th), Reed Warbler (17th), Swift (19th), Cuckoo (20th), Tree Pipit and White Wagtail (25th) and Garden Warbler (27th).  A good fall of Wheatears around mid-month were notable along with two singing Cetti’s Warbler.

Good numbers of reptiles, butterflies and other insects were noted during the month, with peaks in activity reflecting the back ground weather conditions and temperatures.

As always many thanks to the local birders and members of the YOC for their contribution of records throughout the month, and in particular to regular patch birder Duncan Bye for the number of records. Thanks also to Duncan and Terry Weston for the use of their photographs (credited DB/TW). All other photographs taken on site by the LDV NNR team.


BIRDS: 

Mute Swan – The usual spring build up of non-breeding/sub-adult birds at North Duffield Carrs saw 42 there on the 3rd followed by 51 on the 6th. 45 were present there on the 10th when 31 were at Wheldrake Ings. On the 28th at least 31 were present at Bank Island, 43 at Wheldrake Ings and 29 at North Duffield Carrs – with a monthly maxima of 128 present throughout the whole site.

The first breeding birds included a pair incubating at least two eggs at Wheldrake Ings by the 6th with two pairs both there and at North Duffield Carrs. A total of 11 pairs were located throughout the site on the 10th and up to 12 by the 15th. 

Mute Swan - Wheldrake - 06/04

Whooper Swan – Two were still present at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd. 

Greylag Goose – The first brood of seven were noted at Wheldrake Ings on the 21st with seven pairs and 32 goslings on the 26th. 

Pink-footed Goose – Six lingered in the valley from the 2nd to month end. 

Canada Goose – Up to 10 breeding pairs were present on the Ings during the month with numerous pairs on ponds and lakes throughout the wider area. 

Egyptian Goose – A pair remained at the usual site at East Cottingwith with another at North Duffield Carrs. Occasional singles were also reported from Wheldrake Ings. 

Shelduck – 32 were present at Bank Island on the 9th with a total of 58 throughout the valley on the 10th. 44 were at Bank Island on the 11th with numbers up to 24 by the 13th, on the same date 43 were at Wheldrake Ings – a total of 89 were recorded throughout the valley on this date. 

Shelduck - Bank Island - 06/04

Wigeon – Numbers fell quickly from 9000+ in the last few days in March to 411 on the 10th and further to 280 by the 13th. Numbers declined further thereafter, with just 17 at Wheldrake Ings at month end along with two pairs at North Duffield Carrs.  

Teal – Numbers reduced from 2500 on the last day of March to 1641 on the 10th and 690 by the 15th. Numbers declined further with 240 present at month end. Up to 30+ pairs appeared away from the larger wintering flocks with a single female at Bank Island accompanied by seven ducklings on the 28th. 

Pintail – Numbers declined early in the month however reasonable counts were had at some of the keys sites, 139 remained at Wheldrake on the 2nd, 39 at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd,  and a total of 195 throughout the valley on the 6th. Numbers then reduced quickly as the month progressed, with 72 recorded throughout the site on the 10th  followed by 25 at Wheldrake on the 15th, with seven pairs remaining at month end. 

Garganey – A single drake was present on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th with a pair at Bank Island on the 28th and Aughton on the 29th. 

Mallard – The first brood, of eight, were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 10th while three broods (29 ducklings) were present at Wheldrake on the 26th. A brood of nine were seen at Bank Island on the 28th. 

Gadwall – A total of 83 pairs were located throughout the site on the 10th. 

Shoveler – Another excellent month with 78 at Bank Island on the 1st, 187 at Wheldrake on the 2nd, 58 at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd and 340+ throughout the site on the 6th. A full count throughout the valley revealed a total of 157 pairs on the 10th. 

Tufted Duck – Up to 56 remained at Bank Island early in the month, along with 169 at Wheldrake on the 2nd and 61 at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd – an impressive 300+ present throughout the valley at this time. Up to 100 remained at month end. 

Scaup – Four drakes remained at Wheldrake from the 1st to the 7th with a single lingering there on the 8th. 

Scaup - Wheldrake Ings - 02/04 - DB

Pochard –  Up to 17 remained during the first week of the month with five on the 21st being the last. 

Goldeneye – Five birds (two drakes) were still present at Wheldrake on the 6th with three on the 11th being the last of the winter. 

Goosander – A single drake at Wheldrake on the 2nd was followed by a pair on the River Derwent by Elvington Lock on the 12th. A female flew south down the River Derwent at Wheldrake on the 22nd. 

Grey Heron – Good numbers were present during the month and scattered throughout the site. Up to 24 pairs were present at the heronry by 28th at which time several broods were close to fledging and seven were colour-ringed. 

Little Egret – Up to nine were present throughout the valley during the first week of the month with 16 throughout the site (including nine at Wheldrake Ings) on the 10th. Large numbers remained thereafter including pairs reported from the heronry on the 13th. A total of 19 were recorded throughout the valley on the 23rd. Four pairs were present in the heronry by the end of the month. 

Little Egret - North Duffield Carrs - 10/04

Great White Egret – Two were present in the Bubwith Ings/North Duffield Carrs area on the 1st and 2nd followed by a single at Wheldrake on the 3rd and again on the 8th. 

Cormorant – Up to 15 remained throughout the month. 

Gannet – A single sub-adult flew over the A19 near Riccall heading east towards North Duffied Carrs on the 30th  – an unusual record with most sightings falling in the September/October period. 

Little Grebe – A build up of breeding birds back on the Ings included five at Wheldrake on the 6th along with two pairs at Bank Island. By the 11th three pairs were reported from both sites with several further pairs in the wider area. 

Great Crested Grebe – Two pairs remained at Wheldrake throughout the month. 

Osprey – One was present over Raker Lakes near Wheldrake late evening on the 13th followed by another flying north over Cheesecake Farm, seen from Bank Island, on the 15th (CSR). Another individual followed a similar route over Bank Island early morning on the 28th (DB). 

Red Kite – A single individual was present over Wheldrake on the 6th, 8th and 10th along with a single over Melbourne village on the 9th. A single was present at Canal Head on the Pocklington Canal on the 11th when another was present between Bank Island and Wheldrake. Up to two were then seen daily in the Wheldrake area with one over Newton-on-Derwent on the 12th followed by three at Wheldrake on the 15th. By month end three or four pairs were thought to be present throughout the valley. 

Red Kite - Wheldrake - 06/04

Marsh Harrier – At least two cream-crowns remained throughout the month. 

Peregrine – Up to four individuals were still present during the month. 

Hobby – The first returning bird was present at Wheldrake Ings and The Low Grounds on the 13th with another over Bubwith village on the 20th, Wheldrake on the 23rd and North Duffield Carrs on the 27th. Two were seen hawking insects all afternoon at Bank Island on the 28th and a single was again present at Wheldrake Ings on the 29th and 30th. 

Merlin – A single at North Duffield Carrs on the 4th. 

Common Crane – Three at Wheldrake Ings on the 8th were the first of the year followed by four at East Cottingwith on the 10th (TH) and a single on arable there on the 13th. Presumably it was the same group of four that re-appeared back at Wheldrake on the 19th and 20th (AS, DB, CSR). Six were reported near East Cottingwith on the 22nd. 

Common Cranes - Wheldrake Ings - 19/04 - DB

Coot – 480 were present throughout the site on the 10th when several pairs were seen incubating clutches and many others actively building nests. 290 remained at month end when 21 nests were located at Bank Island, where up to 64 birds were present on a regular basis. 

Water Rail – Up to four calling birds were present in the reedbed by Swantail Hide, Wheldrake on the 11th. 

Avocet – A single pair were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd with possibly the same pair present that evening at North Duffield Carrs, remaining there until the 6th. 

Oystercatcher – Several pairs present across the site.

Little Ringed Plover – A single at Bank Island on the 19th (DB) was the first of the year and was still present on the 20th (CSR). 

Ringed Plover – Two flew through Bank Island on the evening of the 14th with a single at North Duffield Carrs on the 28th 

Lapwing –  A leucustic individual was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd. Samples counts on the 10th produced 21 pairs at North Duffield Carrs (with a further four or five pairs on adjacent arable land), 42 (including 10 pairs) at Wheldrake Ings, and five pairs at both Bank Island and at Thornton Ellers. 20 pairs were present at both Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs at month end. 

Ruff - Three were present at North Duffield Carrs from the 1st to the 6th followed by three at Wheldrake on the 9th and 10th. A single was present at Bank Island on the 15th with two at Wheldrake on the 16th. 

Black-tailed Godwit – In addition to a single pair that lingered throughout the month, 31 remained at Wheldrake from the 1st. A flock of 49 arrived at Wheldrake late evening on the 6th. 34 were still present at Wheldrake on the 9th followed by 88 there on the 11th when a further 17 were also present at Bank Island. Numbers reduced back to the 36 resident/long staying flock on the 13th but further passage saw numbers increase to 56 on the 14th and 63 on the 15th and 16th. A flock of 120 arrived high from the south at Bank Island on the 19th before circling and then heading off to the north, with three remaining there later in the day. 60 were recorded at North Duffield Carrs on the 21st before departing to the north. Up to nine remained daily thereafter between Wheldrake and Bank Island. 

Black-tailed Godwit - Wheldrake Ings - 24/04 - DB

Common Snipe – A single drumming bird was present at Melbourne on the 3rd whilst a single bird was heard ‘chipping’ at Wheldrake on the 10th. A total of 35 birds were scattered across Ellerton Ings on the 20th when several were heard chipping and drumming. 

Whimbrel – The first returning bird (an unringed individual) was present at Wheldrake on the 10th (CSR) with presumably the same individual present on the 11th. A single was recorded again on the 16th while two were at Hagg Bridge on the 19th. 11 were seen going into roost on the 19th followed by 19 on the 20th. 16 were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 22nd, whilst nine were present during the day at North Duffield Carrs on the 23rd followed by a lone bird at Bank Island on the 25th. 28 were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 26th. Up to 10 were present at Bank Island and Wheldrake during the day on the 27th – 30th with seven found feeding near Cheesecake Farm on the 29th. 47 flew in to roost at Wheldrake on the 28th. 

Curlew – A flock of 35 were present at Wheldrake on the 9th, possible a spring passage flock, whilst territorial pairs were present throughout the valley at this time. Sample counts at this time included six pairs at North Duffield Carrs, three pairs at Wheldrake Ings and two pairs at Bank Island on the 10th. 24 were present at Wheldrake on the 11th. A pair on four eggs were found at Ellerton Ings on the 20th followed by a second pair on three eggs on the 25th with a third pair there on the 28th. 

Curlew - North Duffield - 10/04

Redshank – Sample counts on the 10th included six pairs at Bank Island, two pairs at North Duffield Carrs and two pairs at Wheldrake Ings. 

Greenshank – The first of the year was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th while three appeared at North Duffield Carrs on the 30th as part of the large movement of waders and terns through the county. 

Green Sandpiper – The first spring passage bird was present at Wheldrake on the 14th whilst two were flushed from a small ditch adjacent to the Pocklington Canal near Melbourne on the same date (BT). 

Common Sandpiper – A single was found at the nearby Allerthorpe Lakeland Park on the 22nd – the first of the year. 

Wood Sandpiper – The first of the year was present at Wheldrake before flying off to Bank Island on the 30th (JL). 

Little Gull – A single adult was present at Wheldrake on the 10th (DB). 

Glaucous Gull – A single first winter bird was still present at the Wheldrake roost on the 4th. 

Arctic Tern – A single at Wheldrake flew NW on the 28th followed by a single at Bank Island on the 30th, when five also flew over Barmby on the Marsh. 

Common Tern – The first two of the year were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 30th. 

Black Tern – A single was seen briefly at Bank Island on the 30th along with three at Thornton Ings on the same date.   

Barn Owl – Sightings of birds continued to increase with records regularly coming from Bank Island during the month. Two were reported from the Low Grounds on the 13th whilst at least two males were seen carrying food back to different boxes in the valley towards the end of the month, suggesting some females were already incubating. 

Barn Owl - East Cottingwith - 14/04 - DB

Tawny Owl – Present and vocal throughout the wider area. Up to five pairs were present on and around Skipwith Common NNR with good clutch sizes recorded suggesting a more successful breeding season than in recent years. 

Green Woodpecker – A single was present at Wheldrake on the 6th – 14th. 

Cuckoo – A single, and the first returning bird, was at Ellerton Ings on the 20th. Single calling males were then present at East Cottingwith on the 21st and 22nd, Kexby on the 23rd, Skipwith on the 25th and Thornton on the 26th.  A single was present at Bank Island on the 28th. 

Kingfisher – Birds were reported regularly from Bank Island, Wheldrake Ings and several sites along the Pocklington Canal. 

Grey Wagtail – A pair with at least one fledged young were present at Bank Island on the 25th. 

Yellow Wagtail – The first of the year flew over Wheldrake on the 11th followed by singles at Hagg Lane, East Cottingwith on the 15th and Wheldrake on the 16th. Eight were reported near Allerthorpe on the 17th followed by 15+ in fields around Hagg Lane, East Cottingwith on the 22nd (DB). 

White Wagtail – A single was present at Bank Island on the 25th. 

Tree Pipit – The first two singing males were present at Skipwith Common on the 25th (DB). 

Wheatear – Four were present near Breighton on the 11th followed by two at East Cottingwith, Hagg Lane on the 13th and a single near the Canal on the 14th. Another two were present along Hagg Lane on the 15th. Three were near Thornton Ings on the 17th with 8+ at East Cottingwith on the 22nd and a single there on the 23rd. 

Wheatear - East Cottingwith - 23/04 - DB

Swift – An early returning bird was present back at the breeding colony in Riccall on the 19th with the next being four at Bank Island on the 28th. 

Sand Martin – 20+ were present at Bank Island on the 6th, up to 40 by the 8th and a large arrival of 100+ at Wheldrake on the 10th. 100+ were reported from Bank Island on the 24th. 

Swallow – Three were back on a local farm at Wheldrake from the 4th with a scattering of birds in local villages and across the Ings by the 10th, a small group of 20 were present at Wheldrake Ings on the same date. 50+ were present at Wheldrake by the 16th. 

House Martin – The first birds returned en masse at Wheldrake with 30 on the 10th followed by five on the 13th and 15+ on the 15th. 25 were present at Bank Island on the 25th. 

Fieldfare – Four went north at Wheldrake on the 16th were followed by three north over Bank Island on the 25th. 

Willow Warbler – Small numbers were present daily from the 1st with 11 at Wheldrake Ings on the 9th. A large arrival followed on the 15th when 20+ were present between Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings. 

Garden Warbler – The first two returning birds were singing at Wheldrake Ings on the 27th (DB). 

Lesser Whitethroat – A singing male at Breighton on the 11th was the first of the year and was followed a week later by two at North Duffield Carrs on the 21st and 23rd. Singles at Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island were reported on the 25th followed by one at Church Bridge Melbourne on the 26th. 

Whitethroat – The first singing male at East Cottingwith on the 14th was followed by a widespread arrival on the 23rd which included two at Bank Island, increasing to five there on the 24th and six on the 25th. 

Sedge Warbler – The first returning birds were present at Wheldrake Ings and along the Pocklington Canal at Canal Head on the 9th (DB, CT). Two individuals were heard singing at Wheldrake on the 11th, increasing to four on the 15th. Numbers had increased to nine at Wheldrake by the 23rd with 16 on the 28th. 

Reed Warbler – The first of the year was singing by the Pocklington Canal on the 17th and was shortly followed by three at Wheldrake on the 23rd and four on the 26th. 

Grasshopper Warbler – A single was present at Bank Island on the 29th – the first of the year and part of an influx into the county around this time. 

Cetti’s Warbler – A singing male heard at Canal Head on the 9th (CT) was followed by one at East Cottingwith on the 13th (CSR). 

Nuthatch – A single singing male was in the Wheldrake Ings car park lane on the 23rd and 27th. 

Linnet – 50 were present at Hagg Lane, East Cottingwith on the 15th.


MAMMALS: 

Roe Deer – Up to five were present throughout the month at Bank Island with good numbers reported elsewhere across the valley.  

Roe Deer - 23/04 - TW

Red Fox – A single was present at Bank Island on the 25th.

Brown Hare - Three at North Duffield on the 10th.


REPTILES/AMPHIBIANS: 

Adder – A single present at Skipwith Common on the 3rd was followed by one on the 6th and two on the 10th.

Common Lizard – Singles were present at Skipwith Common on the 3rd and 10th.


MOTHS: 

Flame Shoulder – A single in the base garden at Bank Island on the 28th was the first of the year.


BUTTERFLIES: 

Small Tortoiseshell – Small numbers were present daily early in the month with several along the Pocklington Canal on the 9th. Two were present at Thornton Ellers on the 10th with four at Wheldrake on the same date and two at North Duffield Carrs. Two were recorded at Wheldrake on the 11th. Absent thereafter with colder weather conditions but two were at Ellerton on the 28th. 

Peacock – Three at Bank Island on the 6th along with five at Wheldrake. On the 10th, four were at Wheldrake, two at Thornton Ellers and one at North Duffield Carrs. Two were recorded at Wheldrake on the 11th. 

Brimstone – Three at Skipwith Common on the 3rd. Singles at North Duffield Carrs and Thorganby on the 6th followed by one at Skipwith on the 15th. 

Orange Tip – The first of the year was seen at Bank Island on the 6th with several then reported along the Pocklington Canal a few days later on the 9th. Four were at Wheldrake on the 10th with two at Thornton Ellers on the same date. Three at Wheldrake on the 11th were followed by 16 across a number of sites on the 15th. Two at Bank Island on the 20th with three there on the 28th. 

Green-veined White – Three at Wheldrake on the 10th were the first of the year. The next records included 18 on the riverbank at Ellerton on the 28th followed by two at Bank Island and a single at Wheldrake. 

Small White – Singles at Wheldrake on the 11th and 13th were the first of the year and were followed by one at Ellerton on the 20th. 

Comma – A single was recorded at Wheldrake on the 10th. 

Speckled Wood – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 11th was the first of the year and was followed by one at Skipwith on the 15th.


OTHERS: 

Green Tiger Beetle – The first of the year were 10+ at Skipwith Common on the 3rd. 

Pied Shieldbug – A single at Bank Island on the 6th was the first record for the reserve. 

Pied Shieldbug - Bank Island - 06/04

Bee Fly – Two at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th were followed by two in the car park lane there on the 10th and three at the back of the pool on the 15th. 

Alder Fly – The first of the year were recorded at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th. 

Tortoise Beetle – Two in the NNR base garden on the 11th were the first of the year.

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