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.

Jan '18

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - January Sightings

Local birders had a good start to the year with a Ruddy Shelduck and Amercian Wigeon both present in the valley on the 2nd, the former presumably the same returning bird from last year (returning with Shelduck), whilst the latter was presumably the same bird seen at Bank Island and Ellerton during December 2017. In total 111 species were recorded during the month, with Great White Egret once again present, along with two Hawfinch from the autumn’s influx and Iceland, Glaucous and Mediterranean Gulls all recorded (despite the gradual winding down of operations at Harewood Whin landfill site at Rufforth). 

Waterfowl numbers dominated as usual with over 100 Whooper Swans throughout the month and a peak of 127 on the 2nd. Geese included 1089 Greylag and 460 Canada, whilst a small influx of  European White-fronted Geese onto the North/East coast saw a peak of 52 in the valley, with other totals including Five Tundra Bean, Eight Barnacles and a single Egyptian Goose. Other peak waterfowl counts included 12,740 Wigeon and an impressive 11,200 Teal – in line with this species trend of increasing numbers over recent years. 400+ Pintail, 190 Shoveler, 150 Gadwall, 130 Tufted Duck, 114 Shelduck and 90 Pochard were all respectable counts, with a better count of late of 24 Goldeneye. 


Wintering waders were also well represented but in lower numbers due to the extensive floods with 3500 Lapwing, 1200 Golden Plover, 200 Dunlin, 77 Ruff, 51 Redshank and 36 Curlew. The first returning Oystercatchers appeared back on cue on the 27th reminding us that spring isn’t far away, and a single Black-tailed Godwit remained throughout continuing the recent trend of over-wintering in the valley now. 


Raptors were again well represented with three or four Marsh Harriers, a minimum of four Peregrines, two records of Red Kites and four sightings of Merlin as well as the usual numerous and daily sightings of Buzzards, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks. Other notable sightings included a Short-eared Owl in the Melbourne/Thornton area mid-month, a Rock/Water Pipit at Wheldrake on the 6th, two lingering Hawfinch following the influx earlier in the winter, several wintering Stonechat and a build up to 51 wintering Corn Buntings at the traditional Melbourne roost. 

Many thanks as always to those who have contributed records throughout the month, especially to the regular valley birders and members of the YOC, including Duncan Bye, thanks also to the Duncan for the use of his photographs (credited DB).


BIRDS:

Whooper Swan 127 were present in the valley on the 2nd with 102 counted on the 22nd including a good number of juveniles (30). Birds were scattered throughout the site with the largest numbers present on Ellerton during the month. 

 
Whooper Swan - Aughton - 27/01 - DB


Mute Swan – 86 recorded on the 16th was the monthly maximum with birds present throughout the site.

Pink-footed Goose – The year started with skeins of 350, 35 and 30 moving north-west over the valley on the 2nd. 80 flew north-west over Wheldrake Ings on the 13th. A single was also present throughout the month with the local Greylag flocks, usually in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area. 

European White-fronted Goose – 38 flew south east over Bank Island on the 14th (DB, JL) – part of an influx into the county on that date. 52 were present at Bank Island at dawn on the 15th (CSR), whilst seven were recorded at Ellerton on the 21st

Tundra Bean Goose – Four flew over Bank Island on the 5th with a single there on the 17th mixed in with a single Pink-footed Goose and 200+ Greylags. 

Greylag Goose – Large numbers remained throughout the month scattered across the site. 1089 were present in the valley on the count on the 15th, with large flocks found in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area, Ellerton and Thornton.

 
Greylag Geese - Wheldrake - 22/01


Canada Goose – 467 were present throughout the site on the 16th - the monthly maximum. 

Barnacle Goose – Six arrived at the Wheldrake roost towards dusk on the 13th, with eight there on the 26th which were then present at Bank Island on the 28th

Egyptian Goose – A single was present at Ellerton Ings on the 2nd.

Ruddy Shelduck – A single was present with Shelduck at Thorganby Ings/Ellerton Landing on the 2nd (DB) and again on the 6th (OM), perhaps last springs returning bird.

Shelduck – 40 were present at Thorganby/Ellerton landing on the 2nd with 69 at Ellerton on the 13th. An impressive count of 114 was had throughout the site (largely in the same area as above) on the 22nd. Please keep an eye out and record any colour-ringed birds present in the valley – part of an ongoing long term study.

Wigeon – Large numbers remained throughout with a sample count of 4000 at Wheldrake on the 17th and 5000 on the 22nd. A total of 12,750 were present on the valley during a full count on the 22nd

American Wigeon – Last months adult drake was found again at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd (JL, DB) and again on the 4th (CSR) and 6th (OM) with reports also coming on the 7th

Teal – Large numbers remained throughout the month with 4950 present between Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings on the 15th, and 3770 on the 22nd when a total of an impressive 11,200 were present throughout the site. 

 
Teal - Wheldrake Ings - 22/01


Pintail – 80 were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th when 31 were also present at Aughton Ings. A full count at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th as part of the WeBS revealed an increase to a total of 370 on that date (with 65% drakes), whilst 410 were present across the whole site. 80+ were present at Aughton Ings on the 22nd with 270 at Wheldrake on the 26th

Gadwall – 78 were present at Wheldrake on the 13th followed by 113 on the 14th and a full count of 143 on the 15th (59% drakes). Further counts of 148 was had there on the 22nd (with 156 throughout the site) followed by 117 on the 22nd

Shoveler – A partial count of 90 at Wheldrake on 14th with a full count of 170 there on the 15th (61% drakes), with 190 throughout the whole site on the 22nd

Tufted Duck – Numbers increased slightly early in the month with renewed flooding. 35 were recorded throughout the valley on the 2nd followed by 33 at Bank Island on the 6th and 56 at Wheldrake on the 13th. 126 were present between Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 15th (69% drakes) with 136 throughout the valley on the 22nd

Pochard – Numbers increased to 16 by the 6th with a total of 21 throughout the valley on the 13th. 23 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th when 75 were counted throughout the valley on the same day, whilst 61 were present there on the 15th (with 91 throughout the site). Sample counts showed the population to be comprised of over 86% drakes. 

Goldeneye – Up to 10 were present at Wheldrake on the 1st with 11 there on the 14th and a full count of 24 there by the 15th.

Goosander – Two drakes were present at Bank Island on the 19th.

Cormorant – Up to 18 birds were present at the Wheldrake Ings roost during the month, with smaller scattered numbers also recorded throughout the site during the day.

Grey Heron – Numbers were rather low during the month with a maximum of just four recorded on the 22nd

Little Egret – A single was present at Bank Island on 15th.  

Great White Egret – A single was present near Bubwith Ings and North Duffield Carrs on the 25th (CH). 

Little Grebe – A scattering of birds were noted wintering throughout the site with up to eight birds present on the River Derwent. Five were recorded along the Pocklington Canal whilst two were at both Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings (17 birds). 

Great Crested Grebe – The first two, early returning birds were at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th with a single there on the 28th

Coot – Two were at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th with 13 between Wheldrake and Bank Island on the 15th and 17 by the 17th. Numbers continued to slowly rise with 22 there on the 22nd increasing to 35 by the 25th

Red Kite – A single was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th with another there on the 20th

Common Buzzard – Eight were in the air together over Wheldrake on the 6th with a minimum of six there on the 15th. Otherwise widespread throughout the site. 

Marsh Harrier – At least two cream-crowns remained in the valley throughout the month with three at Wheldrake on the 15th and another single at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th and Thorganby on the 26th

 
Marsh Harrier - Wheldrake - 14/01 - DB


Peregrine – At least three wintering birds were present in the valley early in the month – an adult female was at Aughton on the 14th and showed well at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th along with an adult male. An interesting looking adult female at North Duffield Carrs on the 15th/16th showed characteristics of one of the northern race birds, with an immature also reported there on the 17th – at least four birds involved in total during the month.

Merlin – A single was present near Sutton upon Derwent on the 9th with a female at East Cottingwith on the 13th. A single was present at Bank Island on the 15th with a female/immature at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th

Kestrel – Good numbers were present throughout the site during the month with six hunting at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th (DW). Present daily around the base at Bank Island with three there on the 25th

Water Rail – Two were present in the refuge area at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd with up to four present along the river bank between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 9th. Two were present along the Pocklington Canal near Melbourne, with calling birds heard from three other sites along the canal during the month and at least one at Thornton Ellers. 

Oystercatcher – Singles at East Cottingwith and Aughton Ings on the 27th were the first returning birds of the year. 

Golden Plover – Up to 1230 were present around the valley during the month but were mobile in response to changing water levels.

Lapwing – 1000+ were present at Wheldrake on the 2nd with 3500 there on the 22nd being the monthly maximum. 

Dunlin – 100+ were still present at Aughton on the 13th with up to 200 wintering throughout, largely concentrated on the river in the Thorganby area. 

 
Dunlin - Thorganby - 22/01


Ruff – 44 were present on the riverbank at Thorganby/Ellerton Landing on the 2nd with 62 at Wheldrake on the 5th and 77 throughout the valley on the 22nd

Common Snipe – Up to 350 birds were scattered throughout the site during the month. 

Jack Snipe – One at Bank Island on the 19th

Woodcock – Singles were present in the Wheldrake Ings car park lane on the 5th, 7th and 13th with a single bird at Thornton Ellers on the 9th. Another was present near the Pocklington Canal at Melbourne on the 19th with one flushed from Broomhill Plantation, Sutton upon Derwent, on the 26th. Two were present after dark on damp grassland near Wheldrake on the same date. 

Black-tailed Godwit – A single remained from late December into the new year and was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd although appeared mobile and difficult to locate with variable water levels. Last seen there on the 27th

Curlew – 25 were present at Wheldrake on the 6th with 33 there on the 12th, up to 36 by the 15th

Redshank – Numbers increased during the month with 51 present on the 22nd – with most birds being concentrated on the floodbank in the Thorganby/Ellerton area. 

Glaucous Gull – A first winter bird was present at Harewood Whin on the 2nd but wasn’t found in the roost at Wheldrake Ings that evening, however it was present there on the 3rd with a similarly aged bird again on the 13th and at the Bank Island pre-roost on the 17th and 21st. What was presumably the same bird appeared again at Wheldrake on the 27th

Iceland Gull – An adult was present at the Wheldrake Ings roost on the 13th with a first winter there on the 26th

Lesser Black-backed Gulls – Several sub-adults were present at Rufforth Tip during the month with three at Bank Island on the 11th, whilst the first returning adult was logged at the Wheldrake roost on the 27th

Mediterranean Gull – A single adult roosted at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd and 27th, with a first winter on the 20th

Little Owl – Singles were present at Bank Island and Thorganby Ings on the 7th with another at Hagg Bridge on the 11th.

Short-eared Owl – A single was reported from the Melbourne and Thornton Ings area on the 13th/14th

Rock/Water Pipit – A single was present at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th

Stonechat – The first of the year were singles at both Aughton Ings and North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd, with a single male remaining at Aughton on the 13th and 27th. Two were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 17th with a male still present on the 26th

 
Stonechat - Aughton - 27/01 - DB


Jay – Away from the stronghold of Skipwith Common which provided regular sightings, two flew over Bank Island on the 11th.
 
Wren – Up to 39 were roosting in boxes on the reserve base at Bank Island during the month. 

Brambling – Several remained in a garden in Thorganby throughout the month, with three reported from Elvington early in the month and two there on the 27th

Hawfinch – A single at Thornton on the 7th with another near Elvington on the 20th

Nuthatch – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th.

Corn Bunting – The traditional roost near Church Bride, Melbourne built up to 51 birds by the 23rd (NC). 


MAMMALS:

Roe Deer – Two at Bank Island on the 15th.

Fallow Deer – A herd of 11 were present in fields near Crockey Hill on the 7th.

Red Fox – One at Bank Island after dark on the 12th.

Brown Hare – Two at Thornton Ellers on the 9th.


MOTHS:

Winter Moth – A single on the NNR base window at Bank Island on the 2nd.

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