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

Thursday 3 January 2013

2012 Summary - An unforgettable year!

January/February – the drier winter conditions continued, and combined with some fairly harsh weather it produced two of our best ever winter months for wildfowl ringing. February was the best month ever on record for catching ducks in the LDV with a grand total of 408 ringed during the month, Teal featuring highly with an impressive 166 new birds. These were certainly a reward for the team working in some fairly harsh icy conditions which allowed us to walk, not wade, across the Top Pond at North Duffield Carrs. The rest of the month saw some sampling at various winter feeding stations and a good sample of 20 Corn Buntings were ringed from a regular winter roost site. Brent Goose was a new species to be ringed in the valley which gave itself up in the whoosh net at North Duffield Carrs. 

March/April – wildfowl ringing continued apace with 100 Shelduck caught and handled during the month, including 77 new birds but perhaps more pleasingly, various old friends from earlier years. All were fitted with our black and white darvics so hopefully there will be re-sightings to come. A rehabilitated Red Kite ringed and released at Thornton Ellers in March was another new species to be ringed in the LDV. It was an amazing sight to watch it soar away, especially as it was probably only hours away from death by illegal poisoning when found. A total of 10 Grey Heron youngsters were ringed in the colony near Wheldrake and were the first to be fitted with colour-rings in the hope of increasing our knowledge of their movements around the area. Finally, the second half of April saw the return of the spring passage roost of Whimbrel and yet more old friends – some being incredibly site and date specific in their habits.

May/June – flooding from late April was to set the scene for the remainder of the year, but the Whimbrel monitoring continued into early May as usual with great results and a record number of returning individuals. The work was also featured on the BBC News and Countryfile, raising the profile of our work and that of the BTO ringing scheme. Large numbers of Swifts feeding over the Ings were to be a feature of the summer months, but provided a few hours of ‘flicking’ entertainment in May when a sample of 48 were ringed. Two Cuckoos caught and ringed on Skipwith Common reflected the number of birds at the stronghold site and one was well appreciated by a group of local BTCV volunteers working on the site. With extensive flooding in the LDV options were limited and with a complete failure of breeding waders, increased effort into checking the long running Barn Owl and Kestrel nest box scheme was fruitful and yet another great way to engage with the local farming community. One of the highlights of the year came this month when a Black-necked Grebe, colour ringed as a chick in 2004 was seen back at its natal site attempting to breed. 

July/August – July continued to be a month of ringing Barn Owls and Kestrels and engaging with interested landowners and individuals, but July and August will long be remembered for ducks, ducks and more ducks. After what looked like a poor start to the season through the variable water levels, it ended up being one of the best waterfowl breeding seasons we’ve had, with the ditches full of Shoveler, Gadwall and Tufted Duck broods. This resulted in record numbers being caught and ringed, and even more significantly, colour-ringed to try and make the most out of these valuable additions to the national ringing totals. It certainly proved worthwhile with several re-sightings adding much to our knowledge of their movements since. An adult drake Garganey was a nice bonus for hours of hard, wet slog. August was spectacular for wader ringing in the valley, especially given the conditions and large numbers of Snipe present. Many early mornings, late nights and all nighters resulted in 30+ Snipe and 8 Ruff being colour-ringed, alongside other notable captures including 5 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and yet another new addition for the valleys ringing totals in the form of a Spotted Redshank. We also had the first moulting Mute Swan round-up for the reserve which proved very successful. 

September/October – water levels continued to plague activities but we did ring and release our second rehabilitated large raptor of the year – a female Marsh Harrier. The first Jack Snipe of the productive autumn appeared in late September with another run of Snipe and more followed during October. The month ended with a large adult female Tawny Owl caught roosting at Thornton Ellers.

November/December – a rather poor end to the year with the LDV almost completely submerged under the biggest flood since 2000. A trip into York city centre to ring, but perhaps more importantly to engage with the public, some Waxwings gave a colourful and more exotic diversion. A single Stonechat caught on Skipwith Common was the first to be colour-ringed in the area, and an unexpected Chiffchaff at Bank Island was the sole bird to be ringed in December. 

The full totals for 2012 will be posted on here over the next week or so but in the meantime we would like to say a big thank you to all those who have been involved in any way with our activities in the LDV. The effort, dedication, support and help, in getting permissions, finding birds, ringing, reading colour-rings and generally helping keep the enthusiasm and humour going has all been invaluable. There are too many to mention individually but the LDV Team would particularly like to thank -

Mark Fletcher & Robin Ward, for their time and expertise in cannon netting, plus visiting ringers - Dan Lombard, Chris Brown & Eric Wood.

Peter Reid, for supplying superb whoosh nets and wheatear.biz for other excellent equipment and back up support. 

Jean Thorpe, for doing an amazing job in caring for and rehabilitating injured birds and other wildlife to try and ensure their return to the wild.

Sam Brown, Marie Allen, Adam I'Anson, Sam Walker, James Roberts, John Cahill & Mike Butler for helping out in the summer and spending many an hour in ditches, sometimes without waders, helping to catch ducklings, herd swans or push the coral. It wouldn’t have been possible without you all.

All the landowners, particularly CCT, YWT and Escrick Park Estate for permission to ring on their land. 

Russ, Andy, Tim & Chris for the regular bird info and for helping out with checking for colour-ringed birds.

Lastly a big thank you to you - our readers and followers! Here's hoping for a bird filled 2013 for us all!


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