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, it now also features wildlife and work posts, explaining how we manage the NNR for both wildlife and people.

For daily sightings please visit our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ldv_nnr (@LDV_NNR)

For details of events, volunteer tasks and wildlife images please visit our Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/Lower-Derwent-Valley-Skipwith-Common-NNR

Thursday, 16 September 2021

10/09/21 - Spotted Crakes

The Lower Derwent Valley NNR is one of only a handful of regular UK sites for breeding Spotted Crakes, with between one and five calling males recorded in most years. More sporadically larger numbers have been recorded, with up to 26 singing males in 1998 and 12 in 1999 and 2000. This represents a significant proportion of the 30-80 singing males recorded annually.  

This year large numbers were experienced again, with up to 31 calling males involved over two main influxes – the first in early May, and the second towards the end of the month/early June. Spotted Crakes are very hard to survey with little known about habitat use on site, or indeed what these birds are doing. After the first influx and gaining the relevant permissions from the BTO, our team caught and ringed three males and radio-tagged two, allowing us to track them around the site over the course of their stay, gaining a better understanding of the species both on site and in the UK. 

With the birds being largely active and vocal between dusk and dawn, it was a great team effort to cover the site and carry out this intensive survey work – many thanks as always to our great team for their efforts.


Thursday, 19 August 2021

02/08/21 - Seed harvesting

Over the last month our staff and volunteers have been working on the Ings harvesting the meadows, albeit not in the traditional sense. Prior to the local farmers taking the hay crop, our team have been using a seed harvester to gather seeds from the hay meadows across the site, as well as collecting them by hand. 

Each year we stagger the harvest, allowing us to collect a wide range of grasses and herb species as individual species ripen at different intervals. All of this seed is dried - easy to do this year with the very dry, hot and sunny weather, and is now ready to be used to enhance other meadow restoration sites elsewhere in the local area and occasionally further afield.  

It’s great to be able to use our NNRs in this way – not only does it help create pockets of species rich grassland which can be used as stepping stones through the landscape, but it also provides more sustainable and resilient grassland to withstand seasonal flooding events, and can be used for grazing animals and agricultural production, as well as creating areas for people to enjoy. It’s also a great way to raise a little bit of extra money through donations to help support further conservation efforts in the LDV. 

We’ll be out and about next week across the county helping to spread some of our seed at the recipient sites - if you’d like some for any projects then please feel free to get in touch. 

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

19/06/21 - Shot Peregrine released

Hot on the heels of our last raptor post, yesterday we had the privilege of once again working with Jean, when she brought in a rehabilitated Peregrine Falcon to release on the NNR. This bird had disgracefully been shot, and was picked up in the grounds of Selby Abbey unable to fly – and she certainly wouldn’t have travelled far with her injuries. Thankfully she was soon on her way to Jean, who patiently cared for the her, with the help from Mark Naguib at Battle Flatts Vets. After several weeks she was deemed fit and well enough to go back into the wild, and so it was decided she would be released onto the reserve at North Duffield Carrs – not wise to let her go in Selby for obvious reasons, but close enough that she will recognise the local area within her ‘patch’.

The story doesn’t end there though – she was ringed eight years ago as a chick in the nest at Staythorpe, Nottinghamshire - providing us with an insight into the origins of at least one Peregrine that has colonised the area over recent years.

Another great job by Jean and the Battle Flatts team, and a real privilege to be involved in the release. Anyone with any information as to who may have committed such a crime needs to please come forward and report it to the police, thank you.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

10/06/21 - Buzzard chick

Last year whilst working at Thornton Ellers we found a Common Buzzard chick on the ground beneath a nest high up in trees - fortunately it was OK, and after a couple of days in care with Jean, it was successfully returned to its nest. This year a similar thing happened, with another young chick found on the ground again, however this time the nest could not be located, and so Jean soon found herself in the care of the Buzzard chick – unbeknown to Jean, we had just been out surveying on the NNR, and had checked last years nest to see if it had been reused, and had been pleased to see two chicks peering over the side of the nest.

Several hours later Jean contacted us to say she had just received the Buzzard chick which needed a new home - and although Jean could have reared the young chick on for release, it is obviously better for the bird to be ‘wild’ reared, so we hatched a plan to adopt it into our nest on the reserve. This has been done before with other species with good success, so it seemed like the best option. With a tree climber having just become part of our team, the young chick was soon placed into the nest, where it joined two other similar sized birds. Watching from a safe distance, we were then delighted to see the adults return shortly afterwards with food, with all three being fed. We’ll carefully monitor the nest over the coming weeks to check all is well, and with each of the three young being colour-ringed we’ll be able to monitor their long-term progress. Many thanks to Jean and our team for their efforts.

Friday, 14 May 2021

10/05/21 - Returning Common Terns

We're delighted to announce that the first pair of Common Terns have returned to the Lower Derwent Valley for another year – arriving during the last weekend in April. Common Terns used to be a regular spring passage migrant to the reserve with occasional, but unsuccessful breeding attempts, however, thanks to a generous private donation to the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley in 2017, two tern rafts were provided which resulted in the first successful breeding attempt for the site, with a single pair raising two young. Since then, and with an additional two tern rafts being provided, a total of 15 young have been reared and ringed on the reserve. 

From these colour-ringed birds we have had two subsequent re-sightings – a bird returning in its first summer to Lancashire, with the other seen during its first winter off the coast of The Gambia, Western Africa (pictured below) - amazing to think these birds cover such huge distances during the year and return every spring back to the rafts in the Lower Derwent – fingers crossed for another successful year.