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

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.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

08/04/21 - Sand Martins

We are pleased to be able to say that our first Sand Martins have returned to the Lower Derwent Valley NNR after their long spring migration. Wintering largely in the Sahel area of Africa, Sand Martins are one of the first summer migrants to appear from mid-March, and are highly gregarious, breeding in colonies where they excavate tunnels in sandy banks. Sadly, natural nesting colonies in riverbanks are prone to summer flooding, however, with thanks to your support via log sales, cards and calendar purchases, and kind donations, the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley have installed several Sand Martin nesting ‘hotels’ on the reserve over the last few years.

These, like the one at Bank Island pictured below (images from a previous year), will provide additional nesting locations and will also be less prone to be flooded out and safe from predators. Over the last couple of years this ‘hotel’ has proved popular with returning adults, and has resulted in over 140 chicks successfully fledging. We’ll be filling them with sand this week with the hope that this year’s cohort will soon move in, and then we'll turn our attentions to repairing the bank at Wheldrake Ings which became damaged during the winter floods.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

25/03/21 - Migrating Scoters

Over the last week there has been a nocturnal movement of Common Scoters through the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, with late March/early April being the prime time to find the odd passage Scoter on the Ings as they move across country.

This flurry of records is thanks to noc-mig, which really took off last year when everyone was largely confined to their gardens, resulting in many local birdwatchers taking the opportunity to record nocturnal movements via sound recording, with many reporting a widespread movement of these largely sea-ducks moving in early April, no doubt being easier to hear than previously with reduced background noise resulting from the first complete lockdown. At least a couple of hundred birds were involved in the movement last year – compared to the one or two recorded annually over recent years (site records). It’s also not unusual for one to end up in Jean’s care – over the last few years we’ve had the privilege of handling a few of these lost or exhausted maritime ducks, after being been found in gardens or other unusual locations. After a night or two with Jean, they have all been safely released into the North Sea. 

It is thought that these flocks involve birds that had wintered in the Irish Sea, before moving inland over the Mersey and Wirral area, and onward across the Peak District to the Humber and Vale of York, then over to the North Sea off the Yorkshire Coast. Please do let us know if you venture out into your gardens after dark, and what you hear. The best times for Common Scoter (https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Melanitta-nigra) appear  to be between 2000hrs and 2230 hrs.