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 24 April 2013

24/04/13 - The return of the Whimbrel

It's been a slow spring for returning migrants with many birdwatchers commenting on the late arrival up and down the country. Only an odd Chiffchaff made an appearance before the start of April and it's only been since the 12th that birds started to trickle in. However despite the lateness of many of our migrants the Whimbrel have appeared again pretty much right on time, and this again reflects just how much they appear to be creatures of habit being so specific in what they do and when they do it.

It was great to hear from Peter (at Saltfleetby and Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR) on the 19th to say that he'd had five Whimbrel fly over. Before heading south last year Peter and Janet spent many a day around the Storwood area counting Whimbrel as they arrived back and checking for colour rings in the field as part of the LDV project.

The first returning bird was heard calling over Wheldrake on the 17th (JW), with 9 then seen at Storwood on the 20th (DB), followed by 19 on the 21st (OM/CG). By Monday 22nd numbers had built to 29 (CR/CG), and upto 32 were present yesterday (AW).

The first colour-ringed birds were seen on Sunday 21st - a day later than last years arrival on the 20th. Ollie managed to read off some colour-rings with Yellow/Yellow - Yellow being the first c/r arrival - interestingly a bird that wasn't seen last year! It was initially ringed in 2009 and hasn't been seen since until it landed back in the favoured fields at the weekend. Towards the end of the day on Monday the count had reached atleast 29 birds, including another 6 colour-ringed individuals - two of which were ringed eight years ago in the spring of 2005! 

To allow us to be able to trace an individual bird three colours above the knee are needed to be seen - one on the right leg and two on the left, example below (don't get confused if you see a third ring on the left leg below the knee - each bird has an orange colour marker for the valley), an example below is a bird from 2005.

Below is a snippet of the history of each bird that has arrived back in the valley so far this year:

Whimbrel: Yellow/Yellow - Yellow

2009 - Ringed on the 22nd April
2013 - Sighted on the 21st April and again on the 22nd April

Whimbrel: Lime/White - Lime

2005 - Ringed on the 25th April, sighted regularly until the 7th May
2006 - Sighted on the 2nd May
2007 - Sighted on the 6th May
2009 - Sighted on the 25th April
2012 - Sighted on the 6th May
2013 - Sighted on the 22nd April

Whimbrel: White/Lime - Lime

2005 - Ringed on the 8th May, seen again on the 9th and 10th May
2006 - Sighted on the 28th April, seen again several times until the 3rd May
2007 - Sighted on the 2nd May
2010 - Sighted on the 30th April
2013 - Sighted on the 22nd April

Whimbrel: Red/Red - Red

2008 - Ringed on the 25th April, followed by regular sightings until the 2nd May
2012 - Sighted on the 24th April followed by regular sightings until the 3rd May
2013 - Sighted on the 22nd April

Whimbrel: Orange/Orange - Red

2008 - Ringed on the 25th April
2009 - Sighted on the 24th April
2011 - Sighted on the 25th April
2012 - Sighted on the 28th April
2013 - Sighted on the 22nd April

Whimbrel: Lime/Yellow - Yellow

2009 - Ringed on the 29th April
2010 - Re-caught on the 26th April
2013 - Sighted on the 22nd April

Whimbrel: White/Lime - Pink

2010 - Ringed on the 26th April
2012 - Sighted on the 1st May
2013 - Sighted on the 22nd April

We're hoping for a better and drier roost period this year following last years disasterous flooding (photos below - Bank Island, Wheldrake and North Duffield) which made tracking, counting and catching Whimbrel extremely difficult and on the verge of impossible. This year water levels appear to be more stable and typical for the time of year so hopefully the roost will progress well to its peak of 100-150 birds during the last day or so in April and the first few days of May.

Friday 19 April 2013

16/04/13 - The life of PI

We’ve recently received a batch of ringing recoveries from the BTO via Kane and our friends at WWT. Many of these relate to birds that have been posted elsewhere on this blog and this is the whole reason we catch and ring these birds – to gather data and insights on what they do, how they move and which sites are important to them. It’s also nice to get some information back from all our hard, wet and muddy efforts. 


(FH18877) - Ringed as a duckling on 10th July 2008 at Wheldrake Ings, shot on 3rd January 2013 at Raughlan Point, Lough Neagh, Armagh, 363 Km.

This is our second Gadwall duckling to Northern Ireland, the other being ringed at Wheldrake Ings in July 2006 and shot at Lough Beg in September of that year. Lough Neagh and Begs are the largest lakes in Ireland and are internationally important for waterfowl. 


(FH51184) - Ringed as a duckling at Wheldrake Ings on 1st August 2012 (yellow, metal/blue), shot on 16th January 2013 at Charron, Charente-Maritime, France, 845 Km.

This was the first of many Shoveler ducklings ringed last year and is our fifth movement of a Shoveler duckling to France, showing a rapid post breeding dispersal movement south in the autumn and into the winter. 

Tufted Duck 

(FH51213) - Ringed as a pullus at North Duffield Carrs on 6thAugust 2012 (red, metal/cyan), shot at Tockwith York on 5th January 2013, 20 Km.

Tufted Duck from the 06/08/12

This follows the movement of three other birds to Castle Howard following fledging last autumn. It appears that some of our Tufted Duck ducklings remain close to the natal area during their first autumn/winter. 


(EX26543) - Ringed as an adult male at Wheldrake Ings on 1st November 2010, shot on 1st October 2011, at Ullava, Rahkonen, Kokkola, Vaasa, Finland, 1790 Km.

(EX35485) - Ringed as an adult male on 1st January 2012 at Bank Island, shot on 16th December 2012 at Scarisbrick, Lancashire, 136 Km.

(EX35967) - Ringed as an adult male on 20th January 2012 at Bank Island, shot on 18th January 2013 at Breydon Water, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 227 Km.

(EX75554) - Ringed as a first winter female at Bank Island on 9th September 2012, shot on 30th November 2012 in Lancashire, 136 Km.

This bird was mist netted at Bank Island in September and shows a rapid movement through the valley in autumn to the west.  Just how many Teal use or pass through the Lower Derwent Valley NNR each winter period we wonder?? Also above is our fifth movement to Finland and the 3rd to be found there in September when on return migration from further east. 


(FP78786) - Ringed as a first winter male at North Duffield Carrs on 24th November 2004, shot on 5th May 2007 at River Tobel, Yarkovskiy Rayon, Tyumen’O. Russia, 4296 Km.

(FH51396) - Ringed as an adult female at North Duffield Carrs on 6th February 2012, shot on 15th September 2012 at Rybinsk Reservior, Yaroslavl’O. Russia, 2494 Km.

Two recoveries from the Russian breeding grounds with FP78786 also being one of the furthest east to have been recovered. 

06/02/12 - a very cold day to be ringing Wigeon!

Mute Swan 

(Z88305) - Ringed as an adult female on 18th March 1996 at Hagg Bridge, found dead on 17th March 2013 at Thornhill, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, 50 Km.

This record is just a day short of 17 years since ringing, and another swan of at least 20 years old (but not as old as this old girl found earlier this year). A typical relatively short movement.

And finally....... 

Over the last week or two Mike has been out catching a few Shelduck again, with 20 new un-ringed birds and several friends from previous years. One bird however, an adult male, caught his eye as it came out of the trap, it was ringed and wearing one of our darvics, Black PI.

PI - re-trapped on 02/04/13

This bird was actually caught and ringed by our friends from the Tees Ringing Group at Teesmouth NNR, Cleveland on 21st January 2012 and was fitted with one of our darvics in an attempt to find out more about the Shelducks using the site as numbers have fallen dramatically over the years. We weren’t expecting it to follow us ‘home’ but it was present at Thorganby on 2nd/3rd April 2013 - so it will be interesting to see if it stays to breed. This is our first interchange between these two NNR’s for a Shelduck.

21/01/12 - The cannon net catch at Teesside