Due to the water levels being lower (and very poor light making scoping difficult) we decided to walk the length of North Duffield Carrs from the hide and on towards Top Pond (where we stood for quite some time in minus temperatures!) counting the thousands of ducks (1486 Teal) & (1672 Wigeon) that were making good use of the whole of the stretch of water - thus making it more time consuming! Numbers of Mallard (502), Pintail (179), Gadwall (38), Tufted Duck (194) and Coot (49) were definitely up, also there were quite a number of Mute Swans (57) mixed in with the Whoopers (85). NB - numbers in brackets just for birds present on NDC. Once arriving back at the carpark we then set off again on foot from Bubwith bridge and did the same walk as a couple of weeks ago - the length of the floodbank all the way to Thorganby - this time the water was much further down the bank allowing us to assess repairs along the way....we might be fencing for quite some time...
The Bewicks (same two as before) were present again at Bubwith bridge, with the darvic'd bird standing out on the ice thus giving nice views (photo below). Along the stretch between Bubwith & Thorganby another 70 Pintail, 3965 Wigeon, 4739 Teal & 1003 Mallard were counted - which is the biggest count of Mallard yet so far this winter (including the birds present on NDC (502) & Wheldrake Ings (1545) making a total of 3050). In comparison to last time geese numbers were quite low with a mere 21 Canada & 391 Greylags. Other birds of note - Scaup (single at Aughton), Egyptian Geese (2 over Ellerton), Goldeneye (13 NDC), Great Crested Grebe (single at NDC), Goosander (4 over Aughton). Numbers of Snipe were also up on last time - 87 were counted along the floodbank - presumably taking advantage of all the fresh mud that has now become available.
On reaching Aughton we came across a group of 60 Shelduck on the bank (making that 85 for the day), so as not to spook the birds we crept down the otherside of the floodbank so that we were out of sight, once opposite we peered over and infront of us were four darvic'd birds - unfortunately we only managed to read one off ('KZ') before shots went off resulting in the whole flock taking off at speed.
'KZ' was ringed as an adult male at Thorganby Ings on 18th March 2011, and then re-trapped the following year at North Duffield Carrs on 3rd February 2012. Shelduck numbers have really started to increase over the month with upto 100 birds present now, hopefully we'll come across these darvic'd birds again!
Nearing the end of the floodbank we were already pleased with the count and various sightings - then on the final stretch we came across a pair of Mute Swans - they were swimming quite close in and seemed interested in us, so we paused and watched them for a short time, soon after they started making their way out onto the bank - presumably hungry - this was when we spotted the bright blue darvic - 'C9H', it was instantly recognisable and it brought back a memory that she was ringed atleast 20 years ago!
Once back at the office we looked up the details, she was initially ringed on 1st August 1992 (as an adult so she would have been atleast three years old then), making her now atleast TWENTY THREE years old! She has been a regular breeder in the valley over the years, having bred on the Pocklington Canal and Wheldrake Ings - producing a total of 53 cygnets. Today she was with '432', an adult male ringed on 26/07/03, they've been paired together since 2003, producing atleast 18 cygnets together. We haven't seen the pair of them since 2009 so their whereabouts between now and then have gone unknown, but it was great to see them today, and looking so well!
These aren't the first darvic'd Mute Swans we've seen lately, only a few days before we came across '538' and '536', who were ringed together as moulting adults last summer (21st August 2012) on Wheldrake Ings, and are still together now, seen on 21/01/13 on a small pool in East Cottingwith.
Lastly, if you've been to Bank Island recently you may have come across the new feeding station - which recently has been frequented by Marsh & Willow Tits much to our delight! Well we've also been working down at North Duffield, building a new feeding station and screen, it's still under construction but we hope to finish it soon!