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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Wednesday 29 August 2012

26/08/12 - One word...MEGA!

Well we thought the wader catches on Monday and Tuesday were good but this definitely tops it!! After those two successful goes Dave and Craig decided to have a go late Wednesday evening for a couple of hours until midnight and then again at first light. In just a few net rounds they had possibly the best single wader catch ever for the valley:

8 Ruff (largest single catch ever - all colour-ringed)
13 Snipe (all c/r)
1 Green Sandpiper
1 Greenshank (second for the week, 4th ever for the LDV)
1 Spotted Redshank (first ever for the LDV - 152nd species to be ringed in the LDV)
1 Dunlin
1 Ringed Plover (only 2nd ever for the LDV)
1 Common Sandpiper
1 Lapwing (c/r)
1 Shoveler (c/r)
 Ruff - one of the eight caught & c/r

Dunlin - first for the year

Snipe - one of the thirteen caught & c/r

Definitely worthwhile time spent considering the numbers of some waders ringed in the UK each year, especially Ruff (only 12 were ringed last year in the whole of the UK), and the 5 year average (2007-2011) is just 11. So to catch 8 in one evening is just fantastic, even more so with the potential sightings we hope to hear about from the colour rings. 

The Spotted Redshank was caught during the night so unfortunately we've no photos to share. It's the first one to be caught in the Lower Derwent Valley despite them being present each year (average of 5 a year). Last year in the whole of the UK just the one Spotted Redshank was caught - hopefully there'll be a few more to come!

After such successful sessions we decided to have one more go in the early hours of Friday morning before resting it over the weekend. With the nets open for just a couple of hours from dawn we managed 4 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Ringed Plover and 1 Lapwing.

Lapwing - juvenile

Common Sandpiper

Ringed Plover - juvenile

The guys arrived just in time to see the last two Snipe caught, a new species for Sam and Marie to see in the hand and ring, both were different ages too, which was interesting to see the comparison. The adult was much paler, particularly noticeable on the head, compared with the young bird which had a real chestnut orange/brown colour to its feathers. The young bird also had more buff fringes to the median coverts and lacked the black cross that is characteristic of adults.

Sam - ringing a Snipe

Adult & juvenile Snipe

On closing the nets we caught one more bird to add to the totals - an adult Ringed Plover, which was a hit with the guys and good to see the comparison with the young birds from earlier.

Sam - ringing a Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover - adult

Last thing on Friday we took the guys down to check the duck trap and push the corale, it was raining lightly when we set off, however on arrival at the trap the heavens opened and we all got drenched! We didn’t come away empty handed though, a pulli Moorhen and Gadwall for our efforts.


Sunday 26 August 2012

22/08/12 - Feeling green...

After Monday’s successful catch Craig was lured out of bed in the early hours again on Tuesday and had the nets up and ready by 4am. A good first couple of rounds produced 3 Common Snipe, 3 Green Sandpipers and a Lapwing. Unfortunately these were caught before the guys rolled in a few hours later for work but they did get there in time to see a Greenshank caught! Only the third ever for the LDV! 

Star bird! - Greenshank

Jean then arrived laden down with boxes and birds - 4 Barn Owls and a Tawny Owl. Jean had rescued the Barn Owls from a nest box after it was suspected that the adult birds had been hit on the road after not returning for some time. After a call from a concerned member of the public Jean headed over to find one of the chicks in the garden looking very thin and weak. The other chicks were still in the box, all very thin and laid on their back. Removing a wild creature from its home is always a difficult decision but Jean knew if she didn't this family wouldn't survive. Now, a few weeks on and Jean’s got them looking healthy again and well on their way to recovery and back into the wild. Another great job Jean :)
Sam - ringing the Tawny Owl

Family of four

Looking fit and healthy now

With a good sized team again today we decided to try for another brood of Mute Swans, 3 cygnets and the adult male were caught. This pair of Mutes initially got flooded off during their first attempt and so the cygnets were still on the small size, all were big enough to ring, but just two took darvics.

Mute Swans - brood of 3

Whilst there we pushed the corale and checked the duck trap, just one new Mallard duckling today and pulli Coot. The moulting Mute Swans were still present, and so out came the canoe again with James behind the paddle. He superbly canoed down the ditch and through all the weed bringing in front of him 6 Mutes.

James relaxing after his efforts in the canoe!

Thursday 23 August 2012

20/08/12 - Hands at the ready...

During the last week or so wader numbers have been on the increase around Bank Island and Wheldrake. This tempted Craig to try his luck, and so early Monday morning (4am) the nets were up and open at Bank Island, a couple of net rounds/hours later saw a Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper and Black-headed Gull caught. The guys arrived just in time and were most pleased to see what Craig’s early start had produced!

Green Sandpiper

James - ringing a Snipe

Black-headed Gull

A check of the duck trap next produced a brood of Mallard ducklings (9 pulli, 2 adults). All were a good size for ringing and went off with colour-rings.

Sam - ringing a Mallard duckling

Mallard brood

Towards the end of the day we noticed broods of Shoveler and Tufted Ducks on the pool of water behind Bank Island and so we decided to have a go, and with hand catching being the method it would depend on how quick the guys could move! 

We quickly split into two teams and took a side of the water each, as we entered the water the ducks dived or got out on to the bank, very quick reactions from the lads resulted in hand catching 3 Shoveler ducklings and a Mallard! However we knew there was the potential to catch a few more so we carefully worked the edges of the pool and came away with another two Shoveler ducklings which had hunkered down in the weed. 

Shoveler ducklings

Three Coots were also found hiding amongst the weed by the waters edge - 1 pulli and 2 adults. Coots tend to sit just underneath the waters surface with their beak tip peeping out of the water, one of them had even covered itself in weed but we still managed to spot it!
Colour-ringed Coot

Then just when we thought it couldn’t get much better Adam stumbled upon a Little Grebe tucked amongst the weed! 

Shaping the ring for the Little Grebe

The catch was then rounded off with a single Tufted Duck duckling caught - another great effort from the guys, this kind of ringing/catching only really works with a big team, especially if they can run fast - even in waders, which if you’ve done it you’ll know what an effort it is!
Tufted Duck duckling

Wednesday 22 August 2012

15/08/12 - Help from across the sea

Well after a sudden rush of ducklings it all went quiet again towards the end of last week and into the weekend, with just two Mallard ducklings and two pulli Coot caught. However, Tuesday produced a few goods - maybe it was the lucky charm we had with us from across the sea! Our friend Jenny was staying in England for a few days and was keen to come and see the LDV in all its glory. With her she brought the warm sunshine - which is something of a given over there!

Despite the corale not catching for a few days we pushed it anyway to see if today was going to be our lucky day, it was indeed with our 9th Shoveler duckling for the year caught, plus a new pulli Coot and Moorhen. 

A check of the duck trap also had 2 pulli Coot, a Mallard duckling and the adult female, plus two re-trap males - which was good and allowed us to show Jen the differences in the sexes. It's always nice to catch a few birds, but more so on a day like today - giving someone the opportunity to see these birds up close which otherwise wouldn't happen.


After giving Jenny a whistle-stop tour of the valley we called at Elvington to see if the Barn Owl pair had managed to raise a brood after initially failing due to the cold and wet weather earlier in the year. We were most pleased to find that this time they had raised 4 chicks!

The warm temperatures of late have brought all the butterflies out, especially around the base with good numbers counted recently - 14 Peacocks, 10 Small Tortoiseshells, 2 Commas plus a single Painted Lady and Common Blue on Tuesday. Top to bottom - Painted Lady, Peacock (2), Small Tortoiseshell.