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.

Feb' 18

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - February Sightings

143 Whoopers Swans were present in the valley throughout the month, with a start of northward bound spring passage bringing a further 54 birds in several small herds between the 17th and 22nd. Two adult Bewick’s Swans could be found with the herd from the 12th – including our regularly returning colour-ringed bird ‘702’. A large movement of Pink-footed Geese saw 1320 pass north-west on the 17th/18th, whilst the flock of eight wintering Barnacle Geese remained. Other sightings of note included two Ruddy Shelduck, a re-appearance of the wintering Green-winged Teal (18th), and a single female Red-crested Pochard. Noteworthy peak counts included an impressive 609 Pintail, 321 Gadwall, 237 Tufted Duck, 180 Pochard, 150 Shoveler, 19 Goldeneye and a handful of Goosander. Grey Herons reappeared at the local heronry in increasing numbers, with a build up in Little Egrets and a Bittern at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th


It was another good month for raptors with Common Buzzards displaying throughout the area, whilst several Red Kites re-appeared after dispersing from the winter roosts following a small movement over the site on the 4th. Up to five Peregrines and four Marsh Harriers remained and showed well throughout. 

The first returning Oystercatchers appeared on the 7th, building up to at least nine by the 25th, whilst an early returning Avocet was present at Wheldrake on the 22nd. 300 Dunlin and 57 Ruff remained, whilst an increase in Snipe to 300+ presumably included some incoming breeders and passage birds as water levels dropped, including eight Jack Snipe on the 28th. Last months single wintering Black-tailed Godwit was joined by the first passage flock of 15 on the 24th, whilst Curlew and Redshank started to disperse back around the valley to hold breeding territories. The gull roost held only small numbers of large gulls but produced two Glaucous, two Iceland and a Yellow-legged Gull during the month. The coverage of the large numbers of wintering small gulls also yielded a minimum of six Mediterranean Gulls at the roosts. Other notable records included four lingering Stonechats, a large flock of 34 Bullfinch and 91 roosting Corn Buntings at Melbourne, a single Nuthatch at Wheldrake Ings and several singing Skylarks from the 1st. A Raven over Skipwith Common on the 1st was a noteworthy record. 


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


BIRDS:

Whooper Swan - 100+ were present throughout the valley on the 1st, with a full count on the 12th producing a total of 141 throughout the valley. 125 were present at Derwent Farm, North Duffield on the 17th when six flew north west at Wheldrake during the morning – possibly the first returning spring passage flock. These were then followed by four following in the same vein on the 18th. 143 were present on the 20th (inc. 138 at Derwent Farm). 12 flew north west over Bank Island at dusk on the 21st with a further 11 the following morning at dawn, and a further 21 later in the day with passage for several hours at Wheldrake Ings in the afternoon. 25 passage birds flew north at Bank Island on the 28th before hitting a snow blizzard and u-turning to land at Wheldrake Ings. A total of 79 passage birds moved through the site.

Bewick’s Swan – A pair, including the regularly returning colour-ringed bird ‘702’ were present with the swan herd at North Duffield Ings on the 12thhaving been present near Goole earlier in the year. They were still present in the herd on the 20th.

Bewick's Swan - Derwent Farm - 12/02

Mute Swan – Monthly maximum of 91 on the 18th

Pink-footed Goose – A skein of 175 flew north west over North Duffield Carrs on the 17th during the morning, with a total of over 1000 moving during the afternoon, with a further 320 on the 18th

Greylag Goose – A monthly maximum of 833 on the 18th

Canada Goose – 215 were present at Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs on the 11th with 325 throughout the site on the 18th

Barnacle Goose – Eight remained in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area throughout the month. 

Egyptian Goose – Seven were present on the usual farm pond at East Cottingwith on the 10th. A pair were also reported as being present in the Melbourne area during the month. 

Ruddy Shelduck – Following last months single (which remained in the Thorganby area on private shooting ponds), a pair were present there on the 14th– 18th. A single was also present at Aughton Ings on the 26th.

Shelduck – 114 were present during the month. 

Wigeon – Good numbers remained with 9800+ present on the monthly WeBS count.

Wigeon - Bank Island - 07/02

American Wigeon – Assuming it was the same wintering individual, the drake was re-found at Wheldrake Ings from Tower Hide on the 10th, having been last seen there on the 7th January (PB). It was later seen briefly at Bank Island on the 12th (CH) before being flushed by a Buzzard. 

Teal – Large numbers remained with a peak of 6580 present around the the 18th.

Green-winged Teal – A single drake at Wheldrake Ings was present on Swantail on the 18th (JL) – presumably the same wintering individual present in the valley since early December. 

Pintail Birds started to spread out throughout the valley in line with falling water levels - 80 were at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th and 153 at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th. 214 were in the Ellerton/Aughton area on the 12th while a total of 424 were counted throughout the site on the 15th (LM, NC), with 500+ by the 16th. 150 were at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th with a total count of 584 throughout the site on the 22nd. Counts of 172 at Aughton, 224 at North Duffield Carrs and 211 at Wheldrake Ings gave a minimum for the valley of 609 on the 25th.

Pintail - North Duffield Carrs - 20/02

Gadwall – Numbers continued to increase - 194 were present at Wheldrake on the 10th with 227 throughout the site on the 12th. Numbers continued to rise with an impressive 321 present at Wheldrake on the 17th

Shoveler – 108 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th with sample counts of 38 at Aughton and 32 at Ellerton on the 12th. 150 were present at Wheldrake on the 22nd.

Tufted Duck – The month opened with 160 present between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 2nd when a further 20 were at Aughton – a full count of at least 180 in the valley on that date. Counts on the 8th included 120 at Wheldrake Ings, 47 at Bank Island and 46 at North Duffield Carrs with 237 throughout the site. 201 were counted across the site on the 15th.

Pochard – Numbers continued to increase during the month with 171 at Aughton on the 1st (23 females). 138 remained there on the 12th with smaller numbers scattered at North Duffield Carrs and Wheldrake Ings, a total of 177 present on that date. 180 were counted throughout the site on the 15th. 105 had moved to North Duffield Carrs on the 18th with 90 there on the 25th

Red-crested Pochard – A single rather pale or leucistic female was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 24th

Goldeneye – 15 were present at Wheldrake on the 2nd with the same number there on the 10th. Three at North Duffield on the 7th were more unusual being a less regular species to see there. 12 remained at Wheldrake on the 15th with 17 there on the 17th and 19 on the 20th – with displaying and mating observed.

Goldeneye - Wheldrake Ings - 12/02

Goosander – Two drakes were present at Bank Island on the 4th with a single at Wheldrake on the same date. A single red-head was present at Wheldrake on the 10th while five flew north along the River Derwent at Elvington Bridge on the 13th. Two were present at Wheldrake on the 18th with possibly the same birds there on the 22nd and 25th

Cormorant – Up to 25 birds were present at the Wheldrake Ings roost early in the month with 23 there on the 18th. Smaller scattered numbers were also present throughout the site during the day.

Grey Heron – 16 were present over the heronry when a further six were seen between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 21st, with increasing numbers noted throughout the site during the month. 

Bittern – A single was present on the boardwalk by Swantail Hide, Wheldrake, at dawn on the 14th (CSR).

Little Egret – Singles were seen regularly at Bank Island early in the month with one at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th and 7th. Three were present at Bank Island on the 11th with two there on the 13th – 16th along with a single at Wheldrake on the 15th. A single was at Hagg Bridge on the 22nd.
 
 
Little Egret - Bank Island - 17/02 - DB


Great White Egret – A single was seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 7th

Little Grebe –  Small numbers were present throughout the month with birds returning to the Ings breeding sites. 

Great Crested Grebe – Two were again present at Wheldrake on the 4th and remained thereafter until the 10th with one also at Bank Island on the 16th, a lone single remained at Wheldrake to month end.  

Coot – Numbers increased as usual as the month progressed with 85 at Wheldrake Ings by the 2nd, 193 there by the 8th and 235 by the 12th. 256 were counted throughout the valley on the 15th.

Coot - Wheldrake Ings - 12/02

Red Kite – A single was present in the Wheldrake Ings/Storwood area on the 2nd while a small ‘flock’ of four flew north-east over the NNR base mid morning on the 4th (CSR), with another over Bubwith Ings and the nearby village on the same date (DC). Two were at Wheldrake on the 10th with one at Thorganby on the 13th and Wheldrake on the 15th – 17th. A single was over Hagg Bridge on the 22nd with two over Melbourne on the 23rd. Singles were then logged high over North Duffield village on the 24th with another at Wheldrake on the 25th

Common Buzzard – 11 were present in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 2nd when a single pair were seen carrying nesting material to a potential breeding site. Displaying birds were noted on the 20th. Eight were present around the site on the 22nd.

Marsh Harrier – At least four cream-crowns remained in the valley throughout the month, with the majority of records coming from Bank Island, Wheldrake and North Duffield Carrs – presumably due to increased observer coverage. A single cream crown was seen at Aughton on the 15th with three at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th

Peregrine – At least five wintering birds were present in the valley early in the month. 

Peregrine - Wheldrake Ings - 02/02 - DB

Kestrel – Good numbers were present throughout the area during the month, with some birds moving back to breeding boxes and other sites. 

Sparrowhawk – Present throughout with five in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area on the 2nd

Water Rail –  Good numbers were scattered throughout the site including a single at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th with three there on the 17th. Wheldrake Ings area held up to six birds with three at Bank Island, three in the Melbourne area and two at Thornton Ellers. 

Avocet – An early returning bird was at Wheldrake Ings on the 22nd

Oystercatcher – A single at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th was followed by two at Wheldrake Ings and East Cottingwith on the 10th. Small numbers were then present throughout the site thereafter. Eight were present across the site on the 20th. Seven were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 25th when two were also at Wheldrake Ings. 

Golden Plover – Small numbers were scattered throughout the site during the month with a peak of 3730 on the 22nd.

Lapwing – 1000+ were present in the Ellerton/Aughton area on the 1st with 3500 at Wheldrake and 800 at Melbourne Ings on the 2nd. An estimated 5300+ were present throughout the valley at this time – down from the 10,000+ at the end of January. Flocks of 500+ lingered at Thornton Ellers and North Duffield during the first 10 days of the month, with 800 on the Low Grounds on the 10th. 3500 were still present across the site on the 20th with a similar count of 3450 on the 22nd

Dunlin – 120 were present on the Low Grounds on the 10th, with 300 there on the 18th and 200 remaining on the 26th

Ruff – 57 were present throughout the site on the 22nd.

Common Snipe – Up to 100 were present on Melbourne and Thornton Ings on the 6th with 198 throughout the site on the 18th and 300+ by the 25th. Heavy snow during the last days of the month saw a cold weather movement with 60+ through Bank Island on the 28th, when six were also logged passing over North Duffield village.

Jack Snipe – The same cold weather movement that brought a movement of snipe through the valley on the 28th brought eight Jacks at Bank Island on the same date.

Woodcock – A single was present at Wheldrake on the 2nd with five seen flying onto the meadows there by the bridge at dusk on the 20th

Black-tailed Godwit – A single was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 7th, increasing to 15 there on the 24th (including a single colour-ringed bird). 

Curlew – The first flock of the spring (29 individuals), returned to Thornton Ellers on the 6th, while two flocks (the 36 regular wintering birds) were still present in the core valley early in the month, increasing to 50 by the 15th, with a total of 79 birds throughout. Birds began to spread out thereafter with 15 (first display noted) on the 25th and four at Bank Island on the 26th

Redshank – Up to 56 wintering birds were present, with three at Bank Island being the first dispersing back onto breeding territories. 

Glaucous Gull – A single first winter bird was present at the Wheldrake Ings roost on the 2nd and again on the 4th, with two similarly aged birds there on the 8th

Iceland Gull – A single first winter was present at the Wheldrake Ings roost on the 4th with two first winter birds at North Duffield Carrs on the 15th (AW). A single was then present at this site again on the 25th, with another (or possibly the same) at the Wheldrake Ings roost later in the evening.  

Lesser Black-backed Gulls – An adult was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 6th

Yellow-legged Gull – A single adult roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 18th (JL). 

Mediterranean Gull – Two first winters were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 2nd (DB) with an adult bird present on the 4th (DB). Three adult birds were reported there on the 10th (CG) with a second winter at Bank Island on the 14th (CSR) - a minimum of six birds involved during the month. An adult and first winter were present on the 18th (JL). 

Gull roost - Wheldrake - 18/02 - DB

Little Owl – Present on several occasions throughout the month from the viewing platform at Thorganby.

Skylark – The first singing birds (four) were present at North Duffield Carrs and Wheldrake Ings (two) on the 1st, with several thereafter throughout the month. 

Stonechat – A single at Wheldrake Ings behind Pool Hide on the 4th when three were seen feeding from the tops of flooded fence posts at North Duffield Carrs. Two were still present at this site on the 17th. A single female was present at Swantail Ings, Wheldrake on the 26th

Jay – A single at Bank Island on the 21st

Raven – A single, calling, over Skipwith Common on the 1st (SC).

Willow Tit – Three were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 18th whilst several were also present in the Melbourne Ings area during the month. 

Bullfinch – A large flock of 34 were present between Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings on the 10th

Nuthatch – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th

Corn Bunting – A total of 69 were present at the Melbourne roost on the 6th with 76+ there on the 15th  and 97 there on the 19th – the highest count of the winter so far. 71 at the Melbourne roost on the 22nd.


MAMMALS:

Roe Deer – Up to four remained on the Low Grounds during the month whilst two were seen swimming across Swantail Ings, Wheldrake on the 4th. Two or three were regular at Bank Island throughout, with many of the bucks ‘in velvet’. Three were by Thicket Priory on the 14th with four at Bank Island on the 16th and again on the 19th.

Roe Deer - East Cottingwith - 24/02 - DB

Fallow Deer – Up to 12 were present on Skipwith Common during the month with 7 at Hollicarrs on the 21st.

Red Fox – A single at Bank Island on the 8th with another there on the 18th and 20th

Weasel – A single around the reserve base at Bank Island on the 8th.

Otter – Several spraints were found at Bank Island on the 7th.

Wood Mouse – A single at the base on the 4th with five there (hiding in our seed bin tucking into peanuts) on the 13th

 
Wood Mice - NNR Base - 13/02

MOTHS:

March Moth – One at Bank Island on the 15th

Spring Usher – Single at the reserve base on the 19th.

Hebrew Character – One at the reserve base on the 21st.


OTHERS:

7-spot Ladybird – Single in North Duffield village on the 7th followed by one in the NNR reserve base garden on the 22nd.

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