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 28 March 2014

27/03/14 - From Wheldrake to West Africa

Long term followers may remember that in its early days this blog was largely focused on the ringing projects and activities in and around the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, as a way of sharing our experiences and results with other ringers and interested individuals elsewhere in the country. Since then the blog has covered a wider range of activities undertaken by the team (staff and volunteers) here at the Lower Derwent Valley and other NNR’s in North Yorkshire, but our ringing activities have continued throughout, albeit at times restricted due to flooding and seemingly endless weeks of unfavourable weather conditions.

The reason we ring birds is for the purpose of gathering data and in waiting to hear about recoveries and controls of the birds we have ringed which can provide us with insights on dispersal, migration routes and longevity. Some of these recoveries have featured on the blog during the last year such as our elderly Tawny Owl and our first dispersing Grey Heron chick.

Here are some recent and some not so recent recoveries we’ve received concerning birds ringed or recaptured in the Lower Derwent Valley NNR.


We’ve recently received a few more sightings of our colour-ringed Whimbrel from the long term study at the nationally important Wheldrake Ings spring staging site in the Lower Derwent Valley. Once again it shows the importance and use of colour-rings in helping to gather data which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible to get. 

A bird that was ringed at the Wheldrake roost back in 2008 was seen in Normandy, France in May last year, full details below:

Whimbrel (EL99843): Red/Lime Red

2008 - Ringed on the 1st May, seen several times afterwards until the 6th May
2010 - Seen back in the LDV on the 22nd April (DT)
2011 - Seen back in the LDV on the 20th April (PR), present until at least the 24th April (PR)
2013 - Seen in a roost at Manche, Normandy, France on the 3rd May 

We’ve also had one seen on return migration following the breeding season, with a single bird seen in two consecutive autumns on the Ythan Estuary in Aberdeenshire.

Whimbrel (EL45771)
2005 - Ringed at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd May
2006 - Seen back in the LDV on the 3rd May
2010 - Seen at the Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire
2011 - Seen at the Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire 

More recently Dutch researchers working in Guinea Bissau in West Africa photographed two colour-ringed Whimbrel wintering over there. One of them was one of our birds originally ringed at the Wheldrake roost in 2008, full details below.

Whimbrel (EL49639)

2008 - Ringed at the Wheldrake roost on the 25th April
2009 - Seen back in the LDV on the 24th April
2011 - Seen back in the LDV on the 25th April
2013 - Seen back in the LDV on the 22nd April
2014 - Seen in Ilha da Ponta, Bijagos, Archipelago, Guinea Bissau on the 14th January

Seen by Dutch ornithologist, Pete de Boer, this bird was one of 48 roosting on a beach at high tide. Another bird in the flock also had colour-rings, this individual had been ringed as one of the small British breeding population on Shetland.

c/r Whimbrel on the beach in West Africa 

We’re now looking forward to the birds heading back to the valley this year – only three weeks or so to go before the first birds arrive at Wheldrake Ings on their way back to the Icelandic or Scandinavian breeding grounds. We’ll be out and about looking for them arriving back, counting the evening roost and searching for the day time feeding fields and checking for our ‘old friends’ coming back.


Last month we received news that one of our darvic'd Shelducks had been seen at Martin Mere, a bird initially ringed in the valley in 2012, details below.

Shelduck (GR42655 - HJ)

2012 - Ringed as a 7F on the 15th February at North Duffield Carrs
2012 - Re caught on the 15th March at Thorganby
2013 - Seen at Martin Mere WWT reserve on the 11th January 

Shelduck fitted with a darvic ring 'TX'

This is now the fourth LDV Shelduck to go to Martin Mere whilst a single bird ringed there has also been seen here. Fitting our Shelduck with the black and white darvic rings pictured above has produced numerous sightings since the project first began back in 2002, with a total of 300 birds caught and darvic'd during that time. The sightings have largely been UK based, with the furthest recovery on record being of a bird ringed in 2004 at North Duffield Carrs, which made its way to Germany several months later. The most recent recovery out of the country is a bird that was ringed in 2007, and was then seen in Dublin Bay, Northern Ireland, 381 Km from its original ringing location. 


Each summer we try to put a lot of time and effort into catching ducklings, so that we can try and find out more about how far our British bred ducklings go and how quickly they disperse. Recently we received details of a Shoveler duckling that was ringed in 2006 and later shot dead in France in 2013, full details below.

Shoveler (FP59233)

2006 - Ringed as a pullus on the 25th June at Wheldrake Ings
2013 - Shot on the 10th November in Saint-Pere-en-Retz, Loire-Atlantique, France, 747 Km to the south.

This is the seventh recovery of a Shoveler duckling ringed in the LDV, with four previous birds shot in France during the autumn/winter (August-January). At seven years and five months it also represents the oldest bird recovered so far.

Shoveler ducklings - Wheldrake Ings