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

Saturday 31 March 2012

31/03/12 - March summary

It’s been another very good month in the valley, a total of 256 birds have been ringed, including 103 passerines & 153 non-passerines (146 waterfowl, 5 waders & 2 raptors/owls). Outside of the valley at our neighbouring NNR’s another 51 birds were ringed (Forge Valley 47, Duncombe Park 4).


Mute Swan 2
Greylag Goose 3
Brent Goose 0
Shelduck 19
Wigeon 3
Teal 25
Mallard 90
Pintail 0
Moorhen 4
Coot 0
Little Grebe 0


Snipe 3
Ruff 1
Redshank 1


Red Kite 1
Tawny Owl 1

We finally managed a wader catch last week (Tuesday 28th), considering the large numbers of birds about it was slightly disappointing to catch only a handful, however they were good ones! Jean got up close & personal with a Ruff much to her delight! A fantastic bird to catch considering less than 10 Ruff are ringed in Britain each year. The Ruff was colour ringed, along with 2 Common Snipe & a Redshank. 

A sleepy Ruff!

The catch also included 3 Teal, making it 7 birds for the night, out of 720 foot of net...!! As we walked over the fields plenty of Curlew were singing & over 100 Snipe got up - great to know they are there it’s just a shame we didn’t catch more! Whilst we were waiting in the hide for darkness to fall (measured using the Jackson scale!) we also had the pleasure of listening to Snipe drumming!

Friday 30 March 2012

30/03/12 - With a little help from our friends

The Lower Derwent Valley NNR is currently working in partnership with the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers), by helping to provide their volunteers with different tasks & opportunities. During the last month they’ve done a brilliant job on Skipwith Common NNR putting in a fence around the reed beds in order to protect the vegetation from livestock and allow re-growth. Well on Thursday (29th) they had a bit of a change and worked at our reserve base - Bank Island, making Tree Sparrow nest boxes. Below is a photo from their task with some of the 59 Tree Sparrow boxes (and sun tans) on show! 

These guys were here as part of the BTCV’s Green Gym, a scheme which has been designed to inspire people to improve both their health and the environment at the same time - for more details have a look at their website - http://www2.btcv.org.uk/display/greengym

We (at the LDV) have been working with the York BTCV Green Gym in order to bring both benefits to the wildlife in the valley and to the local people involved. The boxes built on Thursday will shortly be put in place around the valley, mainly Bank Island & North Duffield Carrs, to help our expanding Tree Sparrow population. Along with benefitting the birds, nest box schemes also allow us to re-visit the boxes for ringing and further engage the local community and local school children with our work. Thanks to all who’ve recently been involved for all your hard work, from the LDV Team (& on be-half of these little guys!)

Wednesday 28 March 2012

28/03/12 - Norway...? No way!

This week we received a brilliant record from our friends at the WWT - one of our Whooper Swans ringed in the valley in 2008 has been sighted in Norway! Full details below:

W24882, ringed as a 4 (adult) on 30/11/08 at North Duffield Carrs, recovered on 26/03/12 in Sandsoya, More & Romsdal, Norway (field sighting).

This is the first record we’ve had of one of our birds to Norway, with the majority being previously recovered in Iceland. The bird was first ringed in the valley in November 2008 after a cannon net catch at North Duffield Carrs which resulted in 18 birds caught thanks to expert judgement from Mark Fletcher. K3H was later seen throughout January, February & March 2009 by Janet & Peter Roworth (Senior Reserve Manager at the time - now SRM at Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR). After leaving the valley in 2009 it hasn’t been seen since, until now!

Whooper Swan 'K3H'

History of ‘K3H’: Ringed as an adult on 30/11/08 at North Duffield Carrs, it was then sighted early at the start of 2009 on the 3rd, 6th & 8th of January, still present  at N.D.Carrs in February (seen on 19th & 26th) and last recorded in March on the 7th & 16th.

On the day that K3H was caught and ringed, so were 18 other birds (all fitted with darvics), and out of those we’ve had recoveries from 3 individuals to Iceland (listed below), and a number of the other birds have also been seen during subsequent winters throughout the valley.

Whooper Swan cannon net catch - 2008

30/11/08 - Whoopers to Iceland:

W24881 (K3F), ringed as a 4 on 30/11/08, recovered on 08/07/09 in Kollsa, Hrutafjordur, Stranda, Iceland (found dead). Distance 1706 Km. 

W24868, ringed as a 4 on 30/11/08, recovered on 16/06/11 in Hvalnes, Lansfjardur, Austurskaftafellssa, Iceland (found dead). Distance 1407 Km. 

W24837 (V3K), ringed as a 4 on 30/11/08, recovered on 02/04/09 in Vik, Lon, Austurskaftafellssa, Iceland (field sighting). Distance 1410 Km.

Also caught on the same day at North Duffield Carrs were two birds originally ringed in Iceland, one during 2003 & one during 1993! They had previously been caught at various other sites around the world but it was the first time they’d been caught in the valley, details below:

(1 = ringed as a cygnet, 6 = ringed as an adult, VV = field sighting, R = re-caught).

A3294           1         31.07.93   Hvannamostjorn, Myvatnsheidi, Iceland
(CTX)            VV       30.03.96   Olands Vejle, Limfjoren, Nordjylland, Denmark
                    VV       13.12.97   Totterne, Limfjoren, Nordjylland, Denmark
                    VV       09.08.98   Svartarvatn, Bardardalur, Iceland
                    VV       16.01.00   Dybvad A Hemdrup, Nordjylland, Denmark
                    VV       09.12.00   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       23.03.03   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       16.08.03   Svartarvatn, Bardardalur, Iceland
                    VV       22.11.03   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       04.12.04   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       24.02.05   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       09.08.05   Svartarvatn, Bardardalur, Iceland
                    VV       04.02.06   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       26.12.06   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       09.02.07   Welney WWT, Norfolk
                    VV       14.03.07   Scarrataing-Tenston, Orkney
                    VV       29.11.07   Ellington, Northumberland
                    R         30.11.08   North Duffield Carrs, LDV

A6964          6          16.08.03   Svartarvatn, Bardardalur, Iceland
(V3F)           VV        15.01.05   Ballynagashel House, Co. Antrim, N. Ireland
                   VV        07.11.06   Bavelaw Marsh, Theipmuir reservoir, East Lothian
                   VV        11.02.07   Angerton, nr Kirkbride, Cumbria
                   VV        04.11.07   Flikie Lodge, River Tay, Tayside
                   R          30.11.08   North Duffield Carrs, LDV

In total 45 Whooper Swans have been ringed in the valley, in addition, 26 have been ringed elsewhere and sighted within the LDV. Out of the 45 ringed here, 31 have been re-sighted subsequently, including 11 away from the valley. The data has produced a total of 21 exchanges with Iceland and single movement to Denmark, making this the first of our birds to be reported from Norway!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

27/03/12 - A ‘ton’ of Shelduck!

Well the target we hoped we might reach has been hit! Two more Shelduck were caught yesterday, one new to ring and one new re-trap to process, making that 100 Shelduck handled since January 2012!

2012 Shelduck figures:

77 new birds ringed
21 re-traps (from previous years)
2 controls - one from Martin Mere (caught during the January cannon net catch), we're still awaiting for confirmation for the other bird but at the moment it's believed to be a Scottish bird)

 Craig & Jean with the 100th bird!

 Fitting the darvic 'TX'

 100th Shelduck of 2012

Looking at the figures above it really is quite an achievement to say that we’d estimated that there were approximately 100 Shelduck present in the valley (through WeBS counts), and so to catch 100 different birds is brilliant, and it’s particularly good to catch re-traps from previous years.

It’s quite an impressive achievement by anyone’s standards, especially for a species with falling numbers ringed, a trend in which they (the BTO) are keen to reverse. The national totals for the last 5 years have fallen from 507 to 161 - and so based on those figures we’ve just done between 20 - 62% of the UK total (and 35% based on the 5 year average).

The total number of Shelduck now ringed in the valley stands at 422 (since the first in 2000) - so this year has been really good for us, and there may be ducklings to come yet! From the 422 birds ringed in the valley, 13 movements away from the LDV have been produced aswell as numerous re-sightings in subsequent years - below are a few selected recoveries for interest:

LDV Recoveries: Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna

GK90554, ringed as a 7F on 16.05.80 on Terrington Marsh, Norfolk, recovered on 22.05.81 in the LDV (shot). Distance 157 Km.

GN01168, ringed as a 1 (duckling) on 01.07.98 at Wheldrake Ings, re-caught on 28.03.08 at Wheldrake Ings.

GN24447, ringed as a 1 on 23.06.01 at Aughton Ings, re-caught on 21.07.01 at Breighton Meadows, again on 19.02.05 in Littleborough, Nottinghamshire, and finally re-caught again in Littleborough on 16.03.09. Distance 57 Km      

GN35788, ringed as a 6M (adult male) on 27.02.04 at North Duffield Carrs, re-caught 25.03.03 on Thorganby Ings. On 27.03.04 it was sighted at Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve and then on 04.02.05 it was re-caught at N.D.Carrs.

GN35780, ringed as a 6M on 27.02.04 at N.D.Carrs, recovered on 18.09.04 in Trischen, Germany (found dead). Distance 629 Km.

GN83029, ringed as a 6M on 21.02.05 at N.D.Carrs, re-sighted on 03.03.07 on Ladyburn Lake, Hadston, Northumberland. Distance 167 Km.

GN83039, ringed as a 6M on 22.02.05 on Thorganby Ings, re-caught at N.D.Carrs on 02.03.06 & again on 01.04.06, it was then spotted in the field on 26.12.06 & 02.01.07 at Martin Mere WWT Reserve, Lancashire. Distance 130 Km.

GN83040, ringed as a 6M on 23.02.05 at N.D.Carrs, recovered on 12.09.10 in Skeffling, Humberside (found dead). Distance 66 Km.

GN81927, ringed as a 6M on 28.02.05 at N.D.Carrs, re-sighted at Filey Dams YWT Reserve on 01.03.05 & 13.03.05.

GC00908, ringed as a 6M on 17.03.06 at N.D.Carrs, re-sighted on 15.02.07 & 20.02.07 at Martin Mere WWT Reserve. Distance 130 Km.

GC00913, ringed as a 6M on 17.03.06 at N.D.Carrs, and then re-sighted on 08.05.10 at North Cave Gravel Pits. Distance 19 Km. It was later re-caught (15.03.11) on Thorganby Ings.

GC00929, ringed as 6M on 31.03.06  at N.D.Carrs, re-sighted on 15.02.07 at Martin Mere WWT Reserve and then later re-caught at Martin Mere (12.12.07). Distance 130 Km.
GC24224, ringed as a 1 on 17.06.07 at Wheldrake Ings, re-caught on 23.11.09 on Bull Island, Dublin Bay, Eire. Distance 381 Km.
GN81832, ringed as a 1 on 24.06.07 at Wheldrake Ings, re-caught on 14.02.10 at North Cave Gravel Pits. Distance 31 Km.

The power of plastic!

Monday 26 March 2012

26/03/12 - Look out look out colour-ringed birds are about!

During the last week we’ve had four species reported from the valley that have been seen with colour-rings/darvics - two Black-tailed Godwits and a Moorhen on Wheldrake Ings, plus a Woodlark on Skipwith Common and a Shelduck in Foggathorpe, details below.

Black-tailed Godwit (Wheldrake Ings) - out of 35 present 2 have been seen with colours, but there could be more as the birds tend to stand in the water, keep an eye out! The colours from the first bird (seen by Craig on 22/03/12) were reported as: right leg - lime/lime, left leg - red/yellow. We’re awaiting confirmation but it’s believed this bird may have been ringed a few years ago on the Humber. The second colour-ringed bird (seen by Craig on 26/03/12) is: right leg - orange/yellow, left leg - white/yellow. 

Shelduck (Foggathorpe) - Andy Walker & Russel Slack (both regular valley birders!) sent us their record of a Shelduck with a green ring with white letters 'CV' engraved, they spotted it on a pond in Foggathorpe (3 miles from Bubwith). We’re still in the process of tracing it but at the moment we believe it may have been ringed in Fife, Scotland.

Woodlark (Skipwith Common) - several birds have been reported recently, and then last week another local birder, Tim Jones gave us the colours from a bird he’d seen (left leg - yellow/red, right leg - metal/red with white stripe). We’ve looked back through our records and it was ringed by Dave Tate (one of our volunteers) last year on 24th June on Nightjar Heath.

Moorhen (Wheldrake Ings) - Tim also spotted a colour-ringed Moorhen on the pool at Wheldrake, one of very few records we have! The bird was seen with the following colours: right leg - metal/red, left leg - black/white. It was initially ringed on Wheldrake Ings in 2009 as a local breeding bird and so it’s interesting that it has re-appeared now. This is actually a really good record as we’ve colour-ringed in the range of 250 Moorhens now and hardly had any re-sightings, additionally we’ve metal ringed over 1500 and only had a handful of recoveries, most of them local. There is clearly much more to learn about common species such as Moorhen. The bird in the photograph below was caught last week in the whoosh net at Bank Island, right leg - metal/red, left leg - blue/cyan.

Colour-ringed Moorhen - 22/03/12

Along with Moorhens, we’ve also been colour-ringing Coot over the last few years and had several sightings (more than from just metal ringing). The photograph below was taken at Cleethorpes Country Park, Lincolnshire on 29/11/10, having been initially ringed in the valley at North Duffield Carrs on 20/10/08. Kane Brides (WWT) runs a successful and more extensive colour-ringing programme for Coot in the North West (see his blog for full details - http://birdringing.blogspot.co.uk/).

Colour-ringed Coot - Cleethorpes 2010

The bird in the photograph below (right leg - metal/red, left leg - yellow/yellow), was ringed at North Duffield Carrs, it’s not been seen since....but hopefully it’s out there somewhere waiting for someone to spot it, it could be YOU!

Coot numbers start to build up on spring passage through the Lower Derwent Valley, peaking at around 1400 in March (depending on water levels). Numbers then decline to the local breeding population, with a mere 20 or so birds remaining into early autumn. It looks like birds winter to the south, moving slowly northwards as spring progresses, with some evidence that they move north along the Trent Valley in Nottinghamshire, into the Humber and back to the LDV.

Colour-ringing a Coot in the valley

It's brilliant for the people involved to get data back from birds they've colour-ringed but equally after talking to people who've spotted colour-ringed birds it's also really intriguing for them to find out where and when the bird was ringed, so without people like yourselves submitting records we'd never know! So thanks to everyone who's already submitted their records/sightings, keep them coming!

Friday 23 March 2012

23/03/12 - Friday at Forge

Today we were at another NNR within 'our area' Forge Valley (near Scarborough). We headed over to meet up with the Duke of Edinburgh lads for a day of step building, but working at Forge also provided us with the opportunity to put a couple of nets up around the feeding station to hopefully catch a few birds to show the guys. It was abit quieter than the last time we were there (November) and the Chaffinch seemed to have got very wise to the nets! But in an hour or so we still managed a decent catch of 52 birds (47 new and 5 re-traps). The lads all enjoyed being able to see the birds up close and they each had the opportunity to hold and release one.

 Willing volunteers!

Alistair before releasing a Blue Tit

During our last visit to Forge in November we caught 3 new Nuthatch and 3 re-traps, well today we re-caught one of the new birds ringed that day and also two new ones, the Nuthatches were definitely the star birds for the day! 


Along with the D of E guys we also had a lot of interest from members of the public, they turned up just at the right time to see a Nuthatch in the hand, they all went very off happy and with a photo and a nice memory!

Craig showing visitors the Nuthatch

Total catch: (re-traps in brackets)

Blue Tit 24
Chaffinch 2
Coal Tit 2 (1)
Great Tit 14
Marsh Tit 3 (3)
Nuthatch 2 (1)

For the report of our last outing at Forge Valley NNR see - http://ldvnnr.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/181111-visit-to-forge.html

Thursday 22 March 2012

22/03/12 - 700 & counting!

During the last week or so effort has recently continued to be focused on waterfowl, with up to 8-10 birds being caught most days. Whilst this is still a good daily average it does seem somewhat quiet after those great catches during the colder weather. With Wigeon and Teal starting to depart and now ignoring the grain, the catch is largely comprised of Mallard and Shelduck. Shelduck numbers have now reached 76 birds ringed and 97 handled - so that figure of 100 keeps getting closer! As is typical in March, the first Greylag Geese of the year have been ringed (darvics also attached), three have been caught in the whoosh net at Bank Island, it should have been four but one escaped before we could get there!

So the waterfowl total for the year now stands at 705, so well done & a big thank you to everyone who’s helped so far this year - lots of early mornings & constant trap setting/baiting to keep the birds coming. The last couple of days have now seen the daily catches drop from 8-10 to 1-2 birds so due to this and because we’re in the breeding season that’ll be it for the duck traps now until the Autumn, great whilst it lasted!!

We’ve been hoping to get some wader ringing done in order to get a sample of the breeding wader population colour-ringed to help with research on them in the valley. A short one hour session at North Duffield Carrs produced a single Snipe last week - hopefully more to follow!

Mike caught something abit different in the whoosh net the other day.....a pair of Skylarks that had come up for the little bits of grain that the ducks had left!


Tuesday 20 March 2012

19/03/12 - 'G' whizz!

Dan joined us again for another day of hoped for experience of larger birds and ring sizes, having ventured and helped out previously in the freezing conditions during February. It was certainly milder today and things started well with 1 new and 5 re-trap Shelduck at Thorganby along with 3 new Mallard and a trap full of re-traps - 4 G rings nicely fitted and good ageing and sexing (and processing) experience. Female Mallards can tend to be quite difficult to age and so some were recorded as a '4', Similar to the males, females should have broad black tips to the greater coverts, however the tertials are often very variable and perhaps more unreliable than previously thought.

Ageing female Mallards

Shelduck - a new bird for Dan

This Shelduck was aged as a '7' by the white tips to the primaries, and noted as a female due to the lack of a knob and presence of a diffuse grey nail on the tip of the bill.


The next trap brought another new Mallard and Shelduck to ring, so another 2 G rings fitted and once again another box full of birds to be processed. There was a good mix of adult and juvenile birds which gave good comparisons, the adult male Mallards (below) were aged by looking for sharp tertials (broad and long, also more greyish than juveniles), and broad black tips to the greater coverts.

Craig explaining how to age a male Mallard

Shelduck ringing on the pool

A visit to North Duffield Carrs brought only a single drake re-trap Wigeon in the trap there, but two un-ringed non-territorial Mute Swans in the whoosh net on the river bank were swifty taken - big birds delivered for a big bird experience! Another new bird for Dan & good experience to try & work out how to fit the 'eagle specials'! The cob was also fitted with our last darvic - 457. Currently there are two pairs of Mutes nest building at North Duffield, one at Bank Island and four at Wheldrake, hopefully they'll do well again and between them produce many cygnets.

Mute Swan '457'

We then checked the nest boxes around North Duffield Carrs, a pair of Barn Owls were present in both boxes, very pleasing to see, lets hope they have a successful breeding year & produce many chicks! We then zipped over the road to North Duffield Ings and added a nice adult Tawny Owl that was roosting in the box to the list of todays G rings (Dan soon got used to the technique of fitting these - & it was abit of a breeze after handling the Mutes!). We also got abit of a surprise after netting the Tawny, to find a Grey Squirrel which had been pinned in at the back of the box! It was probably relieved and made a quick get away! The Tawny Owl was sexed as a female by the presence of a brood patch, and aged as an adult due to atleast three generations of wing feathers.

Adult female Tawny Owl

There's a great deal to gain from ringing at other sites and with other groups, and it's great for us to be able to share it and what we do with others, so all in all, an enjoyable day, with 2 Shelduck, 4 Mallard, 2 Mute Swans and a Tawny Owl ringed (all new species for Dan), with another 22 Mallard and 6 Shelduck re-traps processed. There was added interest with an Osprey north over the River Derwent at North Duffield Carrs during the afternoon, plus a Wheatear on the floodbank - time to get the mealworms ready!

Sunday 18 March 2012

18/03/12 - RED Letter Day

Some days just aren’t about ringing, and this was one of them! Two weeks ago, Jean Thorpe (a member of this group - NNR volunteer and who also runs Ryedale Rehabilitation Centre) received a very poorly Red Kite. It had almost certainly been poisoned and was probably just hours away from death. In fact, Craig went to age and sex the bird on its first morning there in the pouring rain, which, given that hypothermia kills most poisoned birds before organ failure or starvation, it would have been dead that morning had it not been at Jean’s under a heat lamp.

Recovering at Jean's

Hopes weren’t high for a good outcome....however, Jean has an excellent track record with rehab so if anyone could turn it around she could. We’ve ringed many of the birds successfully rehabbed by Jean over the years and have proved the value of all her hard work, patience, skill and dedication. Ringing has shown, amongst many others, that a Barn Owl that had been shot with an air rifle, breaking its wing, is now still breeding in one of our nest boxes and has produced more than 30 chicks since Jean cared for it. The Marsh Harrier (below) faired well in the valley following a broken wing and was tracked due to its distinctive moult for the rest of the summer before it departed, and only last week we re-trapped a shelduck duckling, which is now back, paired up and breeding in the valley 5 years after Jean hand reared it following the loss of its parents on a road. All of Jean's hard work obviously helps the individuals and populations of the wild birds and animals she looks after, but also in the longer run will bring enjoyment to those who get to enjoy, for example, the Barn Owls, Marsh Harriers and Shelduck offspring produced by the above - SO WELL DONE JEAN!

Marsh Harrier

Anyway, true to Jean’s form, the Red Kite amazingly started to fair well, putting on 150 grams during its two week stay and today it let Jean know it was ready to go - by attacking her and batting around its pen. If they’re ready, they’re ready, so Craig and Mike had the privilege of being there for the release and Mike also got to ring a Red Kite. 

The bird came from within the wider Derwent catchment, was a first year male, and due to the fact it had been poisoned, the unfortunate decision was made not to release it back to where it was found (always the golden rule in rehab). Instead it was released on a private part of the NNR with good Kite habitat, lots of available food and in an area frequented by passing Kites with good ‘raptor friendly’ landowners.

True to form, being a Red Kite, it typically sat for a while and ‘sulked’ on release, before Jean picked it up and threw it into the air. It went like a rocket, soaring and gliding, coming back for a ‘thank you’ flyover, before flying up, up and away, circling higher and higher until it was just a dot in the sky. It was a privilege to see and was quite emotional - hope it fairs well and that we don’t actually hear about it again. Well done Jean! Lets just hope that the efforts being made by the North Yorkshire Police get some equally good results.

Up, up & away!

Stop Press! The Kite was sighted by the York BTO regional rep Rob Chapman and his wife on the NNR about an hour after it was released. This was about 5 Km from where it was released, and was later seen by Craig on the ground feeding on a goose carcass - RESULT!

Follow Jean's link for more information about the great work shes does -  

Tuesday 13 March 2012

13/03/12 - 100 Shelduck??

A title with a double meaning - we keep catching more Shelduck in the duck traps making it our best ever year for the species. We’ve now ringed 72 new birds and with re-traps and controls the total number of birds handled is 92, so we're slowly approaching the 100 mark. Given that there are still lots of un-ringed birds being seen throughout the valley it also suggests that our estimate of 100 birds is rather low, or at least there has been some turnover of spring passage/breeding birds over the last two months.

We caught another old friend today - GN81832, originally ringed as a ‘shelduck-ling’ at Wheldrake Ings on 24/06/07 - we next heard about her when she appeared at North Cave Gravel Pits on 14/02/10. Today she was back at Wheldrake Ings on the pool where she was reared as a chick 5 years ago. The photo of her below was taken at North Cave Gravel Pits in 2010 and sent on to us. This shows the value of using colour-rings, especially in this day and age of high quality photographic gear and digi-scoping. Great to see her back!

Saturday 10 March 2012

10/03/12 - Shoveler(ly) good!

Today we received another two recoveries from the WWT, a female Wigeon to Russia (our 24th) but more significantly, a Shoveler duckling from 2009 to France (our 3rd). Details below:

- Shoveler (FH10859) ringed as a 1 (duckling) on 12/06/09 at Wheldrake Ings, recovered on 30/12/11 in France (shot dead).

- Wigeon (FP68603) ringed as a 3F on 10/11/07 at North Duffield Carrs, recovered on 27/09/11 in Russia (shot dead).

2009 was a bumper year for us in terms of ringing Shoveler ducklings, with 21 ringed, clearly worth all the effort! & for those of us who’ve experienced it we know what an effort it can be pushing the corale in the height of summer!

The Lower Derwent Valley NNR in some years is the most important breeding site in the country for Shoveler (per RBBP reports) and is probably the most important site in the country in terms of catching and ringing Shoveler, especially ducklings. So this is particularly good data out of the 125 ringed, and out of interest below we’ve posted the other pulli Shoveler recoveries from the LDV: 

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

J12112, ringed as a 1 on 12.06.65 in Lake Engure, Latvia, recovered on 08.01.66 in the LDV NNR, Melbourne (shot dead). Distance - 1551 Km

FA87928, ringed as a 1 on 01.07.98 in the LDV NNR, recovered on 07.08.98 in Pas-de Calais, France (shot dead). Distance - 438 Km. 

FP20521, ringed as a 1 on 30.06.99 in the LDV NNR, recovered on 14.12.02 in Brucourt, Calvados, France (shot dead). Distance - 519 Km. 

FP78818, ringed as a 1 on 26.06.04 in the LDV NNR, Wheldrake Ings, recovered on 15. 05.05 in Pinezhskiy, Arkhangelsk, U.S.S.R (shot dead). Distance - 2764 Km.

FP78819, ringed as a 1 on 26.06.04 in the LDV NNR, Wheldrake Ings, recovered on 21.08.05 in Krasinskoe, Privolzhskiy, Ivanovo, U.S.S.R (shot dead). Distance - 2678 Km.

Note the first bird (J12112) it's the only record we have of a control to the valley, the bird was ringed as a duckling during the summer of ’65, it was then shot dead during the winter of ’66 in Melbourne, York. Also, note the last two birds (FP78818) & (FP78819), they are from the same brood and both shot in the U.S.S.R during the breeding season.

Thanks to Kane Brides for passing on the recent recovery and to the WWT for supporting the waterfowl ringing within the Lower Derwent Valley NNR. 

Recent ringing....

Today saw another 8 Mallard caught in the traps and a couple of hours ringing at the base today and yesterday resulted in 22 new birds. That’s a good little sample of 47 birds for the week before we finish netting at the feeding station as the breeding season is soon upon us.

Blackbird 2
Blue Tit 3
Bullfinch 1
Chaffinch 2
Great Tit 1
Greenfinch 11 (noticeable influx)
Reed Bunting 1
Yellowhammer 1 


A colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit was reported at Wheldrake Ings today, we believe it will have four colour rings but on this occasion only two could be seen, a single yellow on each leg. So keep your eyes peeled for this individual & let us know if you spot it and if you're able to see all the colours which will allow us to find out where and when it was ringed.

Highlights from North Duffield today: 2 Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl (late pm), and down the road at Wheldrake: a Peregrine was out hunting, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming, plus 31 Dunlin & 12 Redshank feeding in the water infront of Cheesecake Hide. Late pm two adult Iceland Gulls and two adult Glaucous Gulls went over Bank Island on their way to the Wheldrake Ings roost.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

07/03/12 - Hello/Goodbye!

During the last few days it’s been noticeable that breeding waders and breeding ducks are now arriving back in the valley, and in good numbers, especially Gadwall (100+) and Shoveler (100+). Species like Wigeon have now switched from taking the grain on offer in the traps/whoosh net areas to feeding on the grass as they usually do in spring, and some are clearly on the move back to their breeding grounds. Given this change round it got us thinking about how many ringed ducks are out there now after this winter - 1060 since September, so that’s likely to generate a few recoveries over the coming summer as they head east.

March so far has seen 49 ducks ringed - including another 11 Shelduck, taking the total ringed to 69 new and 85 handled (new, re-traps, and controls). Most of the birds this month have been female, again supporting the later arrival of them. A catch of 22 Teal in the whoosh net at Bank Island was nice, taking the years total to 275. The rest of the months total is comprised of 13 Mallard, 1 Wigeon and 2 Moorhen.

Last night saw the second Corn Bunting roost of the year, fewer birds were present this time, between 40-50 (including 1 partial albino), at the roost last month we had 70+ birds leading us to believe that some birds have now started to move on to their breeding grounds. Three new birds were caught (bringing that to a total of 24 this winter), plus 2 new Reed Buntings and a new Snipe (the Snipe and Corn Buntings were all colour ringed).

A couple of hours with the net at Bank Island over the last two days have seen 26 new birds caught. It’s clear that many wintering birds have now moved out with fewer re-traps and lots of new birds appearing alongside re-traps originally ringed last autumn - returning local breeders perhaps?

Totals from Bank Island:

Blackbird 2
Blue Tit 6
Chaffinch 2
Goldfinch 5
Great Tit 3
Greenfinch 5
House Sparrow 1
Reed Bunting 1
Tree Sparrow 1
Yellowhammer 1

Saturday 3 March 2012

03/03/12 - Duncombe delivers!

The LDV Team headed off to another NNR this week (Duncombe Park, Helmsley) along with the Reserve Manager (Craig Bellwood) from the Humberhead Peatlands NNR (Thorne & Hatfield Moors). The visit had been organised to help maintain and improve the tree shelters around the grounds. However it also provided the opportunity to string a line of mist nets across the river during our lunch break, which proved very worthwhile with the catch of three rather special birds - Kingfisher, Dipper & Grey Wagtail, all in quick succession!

First off a pair of Grey Wags were spotted moving up & down stream so we quickly positioned a net across the water, less than a minute after being set the first bird was in! 

Battling the current!

 Grey Wagtail

A quick drive further along the river resulted in a Kingfisher in flight and a Dipper by the weir. Not long after the net had been up the Dipper had found itself in it, result! 

Dipper - a new species for Fal

The third bird to be caught & the most stunning of them all was a female Kingfisher (sexed by the red on the base of the bill), resulting in one very happy volunteer!

One very happy Jean!

Female Kingfisher

Waiting to go!

A second Grey Wagtail was the fourth and last bird of the day. We plan to return after the breeding season to hopefully catch and ring the young of these three species.