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.

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Monday 2 July 2012

22/06/12 - Catching up

We've been super busy lately so these posts are abit out of date now but here's a quick catch up from early June - several weeks ago Jean Thorpe (Ryedale Rehabilitation) brought in a Little Owl chick & 3 Mallard ducklings which she had been caring for. The Mallard ducklings were to be ringed and released on the reserve, but the Little Owl shall be with Jean for a while longer yet until it is not so little...

Little Owl chick

The Mallards were the first of our ducklings to be fitted with colour rings. This is part of a new colour-ringing project in the LDV, with four species of ducklings to be c/r (Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck & Shoveler). This project has come about after our friends at the WWT (Wildfowl & Wetland Trust) made contact with us to ask if we would be willing to colour-ring the ducklings of the above species to help with their work. We are one of the few people that catch ducklings, and so by adding colour-rings to the metal BTO ring it is hoped that many sightings will come from this. Each bird will have a single ring fitted to both legs, allowing easy identification.

Jean ringing her ducks

Mallards showing dark green & yellow c/r

Jean says goodbye

Jean then joined us for an afternoon of checking a few more Barn Owl boxes, we weren't aware of anymore Kestrel broods so were pleasantly surprised when we came across a brood of four fiesty chicks in a box tucked away amongst hay bales!

A tricky one to access...

Four fiesty Kestrel chicks

We had a couple of disappointments after the Kestrels (why is it always the boxes that involve the longest walk through the tallest nettles!?) but the last box of the day was a good one to finish on with a brood of 4 quite big Barn Owl chicks. They could all be sexed, either due to their colour, the presence of black spots or the markings around their face (females are darker).

Female on the left, male on the right

The photograph below is a really good example of the difference between the sexes, even at such a young age the difference between females and males is clear. The female (left) is darker grey on the wing, the male (right) is much paler.

Female (left), male (right)

On the inside wing of the female we could already see the black spots - another characteristic to look for.

Female - showing the dark spots on the underwing

From the brood of the 4 Barn Owl chicks there was just one male amongst three females, these chicks are the most 'well on' that we've come across and were thought to be approximately 4 weeks old. Although they tend to be abit fiesty and their claws are abit sharper it's much better ringing them at this age/size so that we can record the sex of each chick.

The majority of the boxes have been covered now, with the sites left to the last the ones thought most likely to be un-used due to previous years, and so for our last day of box checking we were pleasantly surprised to find 3 more broods of Kestrels - all of different ages which was interesting to see. The other boxes checked were either empty, taken over by Pigeons or the boxes no longer exist - a job for the autumn!
 Kestrel chicks - c 10 days old

Kestrel chick - c 2-3 weeks old

Kestrel chicks - c 4-5 weeks old

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