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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Jan' 19

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - January Sightings

The wintering Whooper Swan herd remained at 97 throughout the month with 106 migrant birds passing through, along with over 1500 Pink-footed Geese also returning north-west to Lancashire from mid-month. Up to 19 White-fronted Geese and a single Tundra Bean and Barnacle Goose lingered throughout amongst the 1800+ Greylag and 370 Canada Geese. Amongst the rafts of Wigeon both drake and female American Wigeon were found, with a Green-winged Teal present between 10th-26th at least. A male and female Smew put in brief appearances, whilst Little Egrets had built up to four by the 15th and the first Great White Egret of the year appeared on 19th.

Early signs of spring around the corner included the first returning Oystercatcher on que on the 27th, whilst Curlew numbers built up to a respectable 88 by the 29th with small parties of Lapwing noted prospecting adjacent arable fields on the same date. Up to 8800 Lapwing, 1000 Golden Plover, 200 Dunlin and 91 Ruff were present until late in the month when a sharp reminder that we are still firmly in mid-winter, produced freezing conditions that pushed birds out of the valley and presumably down towards the Humber. Up to seven Black-tailed Godwits were present with a single wintering Green Sandpiper on the 10th, whilst good numbers of Woodcock were found feeding on the Ings after dark during the month. Although the gull roost was rather reduced following the closure of Rufforth landfill operations, a single Yellow-legged, Caspian and Iceland Gull were logged during the month.

The Ring-necked Parakeet seen at the end of 2018 re-appeared at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd, with four Waxwings appearing in the area and a wintering Chiffchaff remained at Wheldrake Ings. At least three Brambling were present around the Bank Island feeding station with an impressive 170 Corn Buntings roosting at Melbourne. 

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


BIRDS: 

Mute Swan – Monthly maximum of 81 on the 16th.

Whooper Swan – Up to 97 remained but were widely scattered and mobile. 73 were present at Wheldrake on the 20th while 33 flew north west during the day – presumed migrants. 

 
Whooper Swans - Wheldrake - 20/01 - DB


Greylag Goose 400 were present at Bank Island on the 4th with counts of 300 again there and at Thorganby on the 5th. On the same date 600 were at Ellerton, 300+ at North Duffield Carrs and 250 at Thornton (1850 throughout). 475 were present at Bank Island on the 10th when 310 were at North Duffield Carrs. On the 14th 498 were at Bank Island, 388 at Thorganby and 625 at North Duffield Carrs, along with a few others resulted in a whole valley count of 1867.

Pink-footed Goose – Three were present at Wheldrake on the 2nd with presumably the same birds at Bank Island on the 3rd. At least six were present in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 4th-5th with four on the 6th and 7th. Up to five lingered thereafter with 16 there on the 20th. 110 flew north west over North Duffield Carrs on the 14th before circling and dropping in to join the Greylags present on the site. A total of 240 flew over the site in three skeins on the 18th whilst 90 dropped into Storwood on the 19th, followed by a series of flocks moving north west (230 over North Duffield, 60 over Dunnington and 83 over Bank Island on the 20th). 250+ flew north west the following day (21st) over Bank Island. 300 flew over Bank Island on the 26th with 120 on the 27th, whilst several unseen skeins flew north over the valley calling in fog on the 31st – a total of 1500 + moving during the month. 

 
Pink-footed Geese - Bank Island - 20/01 - DB


Tundra Bean Goose – A single with the goose flock in the Bank Island/Low Grounds area on the 4th (CSR, AF) with a single lone bird calling over Aughton on the 15th (CSR/MFJ).

White-fronted Goose – At least eight remained in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area from the 1st – 10th with 19 throughout the site on the 11th including 11 at North Duffield. 11 remained there on the 19th when 12 were present at Bank Island – a total of 23 throughout the site. Up to 10 were present daily thereafter at North Duffield Carrs.

Canada Goose – 370 were recorded throughout the site on the 5th with 103 at Bank Island on the 10th when 89 were also present at North Duffield Carrs.

Barnacle Goose – A single was present at Wheldrake on the 18th, moving to Bank Island on the 19th and joining the large goose flock there. Presumably the same bird was present with Greylags feeding in fields at Elvington Bridge by the Water Treatment Works on the 29th.

Egyptian Goose – Two were present in the East Cottingwith area throughout the month.

Shelduck – Numbers had increased to 63 by the 5th with 74 by the 29th.

American Wigeon – A drake was present at Bubwith Ings again on the 1st – remaining from the 31st December before relocating to the Low Grounds and Wheldrake on the 3rd (AF, DB) and again at North Duffield on the 5th (CSR). An adult female was then found at North Duffield Carrs on the 10th (CSR, DW) with the drake re-appearing at Wheldrake again on the 13th (GF, JL, DB).

 
American Wigeon - Wheldrake - 13/01 - DB


Wigeon – A monthly maximum of 9827 on the 16th with smaller numbers at month end (freezing conditions forced birds away from the site).

Teal – Monthly maximum of 6154 recorded on the 16th.

Green-winged Teal – A single drake was reported at Wheldrake on the 10th and 11th (per birdguides) and was found again there, sharing the Ings with a drake American Wigeon, on the 13th (JL). Re-found again there on the 25th (AF) and present again on the 26th.

Mallard – Up to 980 were present throughout the site during the month.

Pintail – Numbers increased throughout the month with 307 throughout the valley on the 26th. A good sample of 18 caught and ringed throughout the month.

 
Pintail - Bank Island - 07/01 - MFJ


Gadwall – 101 were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd with a monthly maximum of 198 by the 16th.

Shoveler – 158 were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd with 221 present throughout the site on the 26th.

Tufted Duck – 11 were present at Bank Island on the 3rd with smaller numbers encountered on the river thereafter.

Goosander – Four females were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 6th with a single female present again there on the 12th and 26th.

Goldeneye – Seven were present at Thorganby on the 2nd whilst numbers at Wheldrake built up to 10 by 13th.

Smew – A red-head flew over Bank Island on the 2nd (CSR) followed by a drake at Wheldrake on the 10th. A drake then flew south down the Derwent at North Duffield with two Goldeneye on the 31st (CSR, MFJ).

Cormorant – A record of 31 on the 31st was the peak count during the month.

Little Egret – One at Church Bridge Melbourne on the 3rd was followed by two at Bank Island on the 7th and one on the 9th and 11th. Three were present in the Bank Island/Wheldrake area on the 13th/14th with four at Bank Island on the 15th/16th.  

 
Little Egret - Wheldrake Ings - 12/01 - DB


Great-White Egret – A single flew over Bank Island towards Wheldrake on the 19th (CSR).

Little Grebe – Up to 17 remained at wintering sites on the Pocklington Canal and River Derwent, with a single at Wheldrake on the 20th being the first bird returning to a breeding site. Freezing conditions then forced birds back onto the river with 28 throughout the Lower Derwent (south of Kexby Bridge) and the Pocklington Canal.

Marsh Harrier – Up to four remained throughout and showed well, often associating with hunting Peregrines.

Peregrine – Five were present in the valley throughout the month including a pair displaying over North Duffield Carrs on the 31st.

Red Kite One at North Duffield Carrs on the 10th and Bank Island on the 17th.

Merlin – One at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th (EBB) was followed by an adult male hunting thrushes by Raker Lakes, Wheldrake on the 13th (CSR), and again at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th and 23rd.

Grey Partridge – Six at North Duffield Carrs and surrounding fields on the 4th and 5th, were followed by a record of six at Thornton on the 6th when three were also in arable fields near North Duffield.

Water Rail – Four were present at Wheldrake Ings on 3rd when one was also present at Melbourne. Three were present at Melbourne on 30th.  

Coot – A single at Wheldrake Ings on 13th was the only record of the month.        

Oystercatcher – The first returning bird was found at Wheldrake Ings on the 27th.

Golden Plover – Numbers remained low early in the month compared to the usual and large numbers present in the valley. 300 were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd with 1000 there and on the Low Grounds on the 4th-7th and in the Bank Island area on the 13th.

Lapwing – Large numbers continued to frequent the valley early in the month with an impressive 6000 at Wheldrake on the 1st and 8800 present throughout on the 2nd. 3500 at Wheldrake, 2500 at Thorganby, 1000 at Ellerton and 1000 at Bubwith totalled 8000 on the 3rd. 8000+ remained thereafter with 4000 still at Wheldrake on the 13th. Several pairs were prospecting local arable fields from mid-month although freezing conditions at month end forced a mass-exodus out of the area.

Common Snipe – 150+ were still present after dark on Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd with 180+ there on the 21st.

Woodcock – Two were present after dark on Wheldrake on the 3rd with four there on the 5th.  Eight were seen in arable fields near North Duffield after dark on the 6th, with nine seen on the Ings between Bubwith and Wheldrake on the 8th. Four at Wheldrake Ings on the 13th whilst at least eight were present on Wheldrake after dark on the 29th

A good number of sightings but records probably just reflect average numbers feeding on the Ings after dark, and only discovered due to targeted survey work.

 
Woodcock - Wheldrake Ings - 09/01 - GD


Dunlin – Numbers increased to c200 present throughout the valley early in the month.

Ruff – 44 were present at Wheldrake and Bubwith on the 3rd, with 57 at Wheldrake and 34 at North Duffield on the 13th giving a site total of 91.

Black-tailed Godwit – Three were present at Wheldrake from the 1st with two there on the 3rd and four on the 5th. Four remained at Wheldrake daily thereafter with up to three also at North Duffield from the 10th. Five at Wheldrake Ings daily from the 26th.

Curlew – Numbers increased from 17 early in the month to 41 by the 5th. A single was first heard giving some sub-song at Bank Island on the 11th. Numbers continued to increase with a noticeable arrival from the 26th with 88 counted throughout the site on the 29th.

Redshank – Up to 30 remained throughout.

Green Sandpiper – One at North Duffield Carrs on the 10th (AW).

Black-headed Gull – 8000 were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 3rd increasing to 13000+ on the 21st.

 
Gull roost - Wheldrake - 05/01 - DB


Common Gull - 2000+ were present at Wheldrake on the 4th with 4500+ on the 21st.  

Great Black-backed Gull – 188 were present during the day, loafing on North Duffield Carrs on the 10th with 230 there on the 18th when 330 came into the Wheldrake roost at dusk.  600+ at the Wheldrake roost on the 21st.

Yellow-legged Gull – An adult was present at Bubwith on the 1st (DW).

Lesser Black-backed Gull – A single was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 4th and again on the 6th. Two were present again there on the 10th.

Caspian Gull – A single first winter bird with a yellow colour-ring was present on Thorganby on the 5th (CSR) with another first winter at the Wheldrake roost on the 20th (DB, JL).

Iceland Gull – A single first winter at North Duffield Carrs on the 6th.

Herring Gull – 310 were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th when 400 roosted at Wheldrake with 1000+ on the 21st.

Tawny Owl – Two calling birds were present at both Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd with regular birds throughout the site.

Little Owl – One at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd and 6th with a single at Thornton on the latter date.

Ring-necked Parakeet – A single, perhaps the same bird seen at Bank Island on the 23rd December, flew south at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd (DB).

Kingfisher –The first of the year was fishing at Thorganby on the 2nd, sharing its patch of river with an otter.

Stonechat – At least two birds were present daily at Wheldrake Ings along with a pair at North Duffield Carrs throughout.

 
Stonechat - Wheldrake - 20/01- DB


Fieldfare – Small numbers present throughout the month throughout the area with a noticeable influx on the 20th and 31st due to the freezing conditions.

Blackbird – 11 were feeding on the tideline around Bank Island on the 4th with nine in the reserve base garden on the same date. A small influx was noted from the 18th as the temperatures dropped, with 34 at Bank Island on the 23rd and an increase noted elsewhere.

Starling – 500 roosted at Melbourne on the 5th.

Waxwing – Three in Thorganby village on the 2nd with a single in Sutton-upon-Derwent church yard on the 29th.

Skylark – The first singing birds were present at Aughton and North Duffield Carrs on the 17th.

Chiffchaff – One at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th and again on the 11th, 23rd and 27th.  

Tree Sparrow – Up to 60 were present at the reserve base feeding station.

Brambling – One at Bank Island on the 3rd –14th with two males caught and ringed there on the 21st.

Reed Bunting – 100+ were present at the Melbourne roost on the 3rd with 130+ there on the 29th.

Corn Bunting – 70+ were present at the Melbourne roost on the 3rd followed by 170 there on the 29th

 
Corn Bunting - Melbourne - 03/01 - GD



MAMMALS:

Brown Hare – Five at Wheldrake Ings on the 3rd.

Weasel – One at the reserve base car park on 10th.

Stoat – One at the reserve base on the 13th, 19th and 21st.

Roe Deer – Seven were present at Wheldrake on the 3rd with four there on the 5th and three at Bank Island on the same date.

Fallow Deer – Five between Wheldrake and Escrick on the 9th.

Otter – A single was seen fishing in the river at Thorganby on the 2nd and nearby at Ellerton Landing on the 6th. Two juveniles were present in the river at North Duffield Carrs on the 14th.

Bank Vole – A single was in the reserve base garden on the 3rd.


MOTHS:

Dark Chestnut – A single at the reserve base on the 5th.


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