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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Sunday 16 December 2012

04/12/12 - It's a wash out

In a common theme throughout the year, from April at least, we are once again completely flooded out in the Lower Derwent Valley. Whilst the River Derwent hit the news in late November with the flooding in Malton and Norton, the Lower Derwent Valley once again served its ecosystem services function in acting as a huge water storage area and floodplain, no doubt preventing many other areas from being flooded. This is one, if not ‘the’ biggest flood we’ve seen in recent decades, surpassing the biggest flood on record during 2000. Every last bit of dry land including the floodbanks disappeared, and even Garganey Hide at North Duffield Carrs vanished under the water with only the roof showing - and is now being used by loafing ducks!

27th November - North Duffield floodbank

27th November - Water pouring over the floodbank

30th November - The floodbank is no more

30th November - Garganey Hide submerged

Obviously access to the reserve isn’t possible at this moment in time and even the local roads became submerged in places, making access around the site difficult and rather long.

30th November - Bubwith bridge - no access!

It’s obviously put paid to most of our ringing activities in the valley for a while but it’s also had a big impact on some of our local bird populations as well as other wildlife. The Bittern which had been performing well in front of the Geoff Smith Hide at North Duffield Carrs (more details and photos can be seen on Andy Walkers blog) has been forced to move on, along with the roosting Marsh and Hen Harriers, and the feeding opportunities for the five Barn Owls that had been present recently are rather more limited and they have presumably been forced elsewhere. Wildfowl have been highly dispersed and waders have all but vacated the area.

On getting to Bubwith bridge which had been cut off due to flooding over both sides of the road, we also found that many small mammals had taken refuge on this last remaining bit of dry land - 5 Bank Voles, 2 Wood Mice, Pygmy Shrew and 2 Moles! Whilst it provides some easy feeding for Barn Owls and Kestrels one wonders how many more small mammals have not been so lucky in finding safe areas of dry land and what the impact might be on our resident owl populations next year??

Bank Vole - Bubwith bridge

It does however give us some opportunities whilst flooded out of the valley to get on and get some new boxes up and carry out some maintenance on the existing sites (and checking on who’s at home!). This adult female (initially ringed as a breeding female during the summer) was caught roosting with her partner, but unfortunately he was far too quick for us - nice to know they are still about and doing well.

Barn Owl - adult female

So totals have once again been rather low during the month due to limited opportunities, largely a result of water levels. However, one site did continue to produce the goods with another 4 Jack Snipe and 3 Common Snipe, plus a new bird for the area in the shape of a Short-eared Owl which appeared to have been hunting the above and followed them into the mist nets!

The month’s highlights:

Short-eared Owl - 1
Kestrel - 1
Tawny Owl - 1
Stonechat - 1
Waxwing - 12
Mistle Thrush - 1
Common Snipe - 4 (96 for the year)
Jack Snipe - 4 (16 for the year)