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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Friday 2 August 2013

20/07/13 - LTMN continued...

Following on from our week with the Long Term Monitoring Network, we spent the last week of June finishing the remaining seven vegetation quadrats around Bank Island and Thorganby Ings. In contrast to the quadrats we'd been surveying at North Duffield and East Cottingwith (which were a mix between drier hay meadow communities - NDI, EC and at NDC a largely wetter community with a matt of rank grass due to the flooding) Bank Island was mainly dominated by the plants of a wet habitat. This is largely due to its improved nature and the fact that the water levels are 'managed' at this site for breeding and wintering bird interest, thus developing more wetland vegetation types - this was also probably reinforced in 2012 as it never really dried out. Thus lots of new plant and grass species to get to grips with.........

Bank Island

Expert botanist and trainer, Judith, came back for another day to help us i.d the numerous grasses that were residing in each of our quadrats, half the day was spent in the classroom getting to grips with ligules, oricles, sheaths, anthers and so on......


Sam took the lead eagerly sifting through the quadrats picking out a number of grass species, Meadow Foxtail, Marsh Foxtail, Cock's Foot, Tufted hair-grass, Rough-meadow Grass, Common Bent, Creeping Bent, Timothy, Couch Grass and Meadow Barley to name a few.

Meadow Foxtail

Meadow Foxtail (above) can be separated quite easily from the similarly named Marsh Foxtail (below). Meadow Foxtail grows much taller (upto 110cm) and it has more of what you might describe as a bushy tail compared with the very thin and narrow Marsh Foxtail flower head. Marsh Foxtail is more of a slender plant overall and bears much shorter spikes and spikelets, the whole plant grows only upto 45cm, and often forms dense carpets in wet meadows and moist areas.

Marsh Foxtail

Timothy is the next similar grass species especially when only the leaves can be seen, but once in flower it has a rather distinctive head, when bent in half some say it resembles 'batmans ear's. Timothy also appears to be more upright and rigid compared to the rather soft and 'feathery' Meadow Foxtail. It grows much taller, on average upto 150cm but in particularly rich soils upto 5ft! It also flowers much later, often well into August as opposed to May-July for Meadow Foxtail.


The first quadrat (below) was in the field below the NNR base with the small scrape, this consisted of a number of species from Prickly Sow-thistle, Soft Sow-thistle, Marsh Yellow-cress, Meadow Foxtail, Marsh Foxtail, Creeping Bent, Meadow Barley, Broad-leaved Dock, Curled Dock and Common Sorrel.


A number of quadrats were then surveyed in the field adjacent to Cheesecake Hide, here we found the majority of species to be similar but each quadrat turned up a few new ones, albeit in small numbers, largely marked down as <1%!

Judith helped us make a start on the first quadrat in this field (below), together we sifted through the vegetation first making a species list from the obvious ones before delving in, here we came across Tufted Forget-me-not (noticeable by the very small flower compared to Water and Field). Along with Creeping Yellow-cress, Marsh Bedstraw, Water-starwort, however it was largely dominated by Phalaris and Glyceria. We finished this one the next day with the help of Jackie & John from the Friends of Skipwith Common.


From then we made our way across to the otherside, where it was much wetter and dominated by sedges, rushes, Glyceria and Phalaris with plenty of horseflies making the day even more enjoyable...... Here we became familiar with Brown Sedge (second below) and Common Spike Rush (third below), with other species such as Creeping Jenny, Marsh Stitchwort, Silverweed and Marsh Speedwell making appearances.


As we made our way to the last flag a sea of dock and sorrel was before us, resulting in the presumption that it was going to be an exciting one.....as expected the dock and sorrel dominated this one which was on much drier ground, but it also supported other drier species such as Cuckoo Flower, White Clover and small amounts of Greater Burnet, suggesting this area could revert to a nicer herb rich community given suitable climatic conditions. To break up the excitement and the dominace of plants a Common Frog was seen leaping through the long grass and Common Blue and Azure Damselflies zipped across the nearby water. A Buzzard and two Red Kites zoared overhead and the first returning Green Sandpiper of the 'autumn' flew in calling - providing a welcome distraction for some!

The following plants didn't quite fall into our quadrats but were present on Bank Island - including a few new ones for the year.

Sand Leek

Meadow Cranesbill

Flowering Rush