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 we how 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

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

10/11/20 - Pink-feet arrival

Over recent days we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of geese using the Lower Derwent Valley, especially at Bank Island where large flocks have been roosting - flying in at dusk and then leaving at first light. This has involved around 3000 of our more familiar Greylag Geese, although given the numbers involved (and previous ringing recoveries), not all of these will be of local origin, with birds from Iceland and Northern Europe known to have wintered on the reserve in previous years. There has also been a large number of Pink-footed Geese recorded in the area. This species often flies in larger, more compact skeins, with their high pitched musical calls being very distinctive as they pass overhead. These smaller geese - visitors from Iceland and Greenland during the winter, are a dark chocolate brown with pink legs and a small pink patch on their bill. Up to 2000 have been seen at North Duffield Carrs recently – thanks local patch birder Duncan Bye for the use of his image taken recently in North Duffield, and thanks also to those who shared videos and images on social media.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

01/11/20 - Norfolk Marsh Harriers

The story of the Marsh Harrier is a real conservation success - once very rare and confined to a handful of pairs in East Anglia, and now, over recent decades, it has spread from its stronghold to other parts of the country where its preferred reedbed habitat can be found. Now resident in the LDV throughout the year, up to 10 birds have been present on the reserve in recent weeks, with individuals roosting at Bank Island, Wheldrake, Aughton and North Duffield Carrs – at least four of these birds have been marked elsewhere, with wing tags allowing their movements to be tracked. At least two of the four have been ringed as chicks in the nest in Norfolk – one from a brood at Holkham NNR on the North Norfolk coast - many thanks to the ringing team for sending us the images below of the birds being ringed.

Similar in size to a Common Buzzard, Marsh Harriers are longer winged and often fly with their wings held in a shallow ‘V’. Females and juvenile birds are a dark chocolate brown with a cream coloured head and shoulders, whilst the males are a mix of ginger brown and grey. Please do let us know if you see any and if you manage to record any of the wing tagged individuals, thank you. Thanks also to Matt Gowney and Joel Ireland for the use of their images, taken recently at Wheldrake Ings.

Friday, 30 October 2020

20/10/20 - Jack Snipe

Recently we have seen a small arrival of one of our favourite wading birds – the Jack Snipe. Jack Snipe are about half the size of a Common Snipe, and arrive into the UK from early October (from their Eastern European breeding grounds), and stay as late as the end of March-early April. Numbers arriving and recorded in the valley can vary depending upon water levels and survey input. Being quite small, and cryptically plumaged, Jack Snipe can be hard to spot hiding in the sward, and unlike other wading species which are easily flushed and take flight, Jack Snipe choose to rely on their camouflage and sit tight - characteristically flushing at the last minute from right underneath your feet, and even then, only flying a short distance away. 

Up to 14 have been seen and subsequently caught and ringed at Bank Island recently, with thanks to our team of volunteers and a thermal camera used to locate the birds. Once a bird has been located a large net is dragged over the ground, with the birds jumping up when the net passes over the top of them. With such a difficult bird to survey by other methods, this technique helps generate accurate counts and information of a species which is still quite poorly understood.

Monday, 19 October 2020

15/10/20 - New Aviva 'easy-access' path

Earlier this week we were pleased to welcome a small team of staff from Aviva, York, as our first corporate volunteer group of the year. Complete with additional risk assessments and following Covid guidelines, the team split into small groups and worked hard helping us complete our ‘access for all’ path to the hides at Bank Island. 

We were delighted that Aviva staff could be here to help us complete the path, with the project being part funded through the Aviva Community Fund. If the current situation with the virus and initial lock down has shown us anything, it’s how much we value and need access to green space and the natural environment – so it’s great to finally be able to say that our new ‘easy-access’ path is now open, and that more people will now be able to access, enjoy and appreciate the reserve and its wildlife as a result of this work. 

Additional and enlarged wader scrapes have also been created as part of the improvements, with willows also cleared along the river bank to improve the view from the hide - new ramps to the hide are also to follow. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the path either practically or through donations.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

28/09/20 - Belarus Great White Egret

Last year we posted on here about the increasing number of Great White Egrets visiting the LDV, with up to five frequenting the site between September and late November. 

We are pleased to report that we have already had a few sightings this autumn, with three birds recorded at Bank Island recently - one of which was wearing a white colour-ring. After tracking down the ringer, we found out that this individual had been ringed as a nestling in May in Belarus, at Rechitsa, Byaroza District – 1741 km away. Many thanks to the Belarus Ringing Center for providing us with the information and photographs of the chicks in the nest.

Whilst 120 Great White Egrets have been seen in the UK having originated in France, this is only the second from Belarus to be reported Britain. Great White Egrets are much larger than Little Egrets (around twice the size), and stand as tall as a Grey Heron, with a long, slender snake-like neck and large yellow bill outside of the breeding season - at the moment we still have one or two individuals wandering around the site, so please do let us know if you come across one, thank you.