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 25 February 2015

24/02/15 - A helping hand for the owls

Last week in conjunction with National Nest Box Week the LDV Team were busy on site erecting owl boxes on the Escrick Park Estate which surrounds Skipwith Common NNR. The estate have various agri-environment schemes across the 8000ha estate and work closely with us on a range of environmental improvements. 

Over the years Natural England staff and volunteers from the LDV along with the help of various groups – TCV, York University Conservation Volunteers, Ad Astra and other community groups have made and erected over 150 Barn Owl boxes, 40 Kestrel boxes and 25 Little Owl boxes around the wider area. In addition 70 Tree Sparrow boxes and 15 Swift boxes have also been placed on local farms and villages. We’ve also donated a number of boxes to ‘kick start’ other projects elsewhere in Yorkshire such as in the Harrogate and Wolds area.

Whilst putting up new boxes around the valley we were also carrying out repairs to some of the existing ones. From three of the five boxes that needed repairing we came across four birds roosting, and no doubt keeping out the strong winds! A pair were found in one box together and a lone male and female in two other boxes. Given the number of chicks ringed in the last year’s bumper breeding season throughout the LDV (c170), it was surprising to find that two of the birds were un-ringed - it may well be that these are young birds from last year from further afield. One of the birds also had a ring on from elsewhere (a control), it’s unusual for us to control a bird so this may give us a clue to where some of the birds have dispersed from. 

1085 Barn Owls had been ringed up to the end of 2014 in a study starting in 1999 – 90% of which have come from boxes provided throughout the area and showing just how important the provision of artificial nest sites can be – especially as old trees fall down and grain stores/farm outbuildings are made pest/vermin proof or converted for other uses. Hopefully the additional boxes will soon become home to breeding owls this year and in subsequent years.

Making, erecting and repairing these boxes takes time but the results are very worthwhile - annual monitoring produces a wealth of useful data, both in terms of our local area but also for the national nest record scheme. Large numbers of birds have been ringed as a result of being able to access these sites, again adding to our knowledge of local bird populations but also allowing us to help train the next generation of nest recorders and ringers. It’s also a great way to engage with the landowners and the wider community around the reserve.

So a big thank you to all who have helped with this work, from making boxes and inspecting them during the breeding season, to ringing broods and also to those who let us have access onto their land to undertake this work.


  1. Great to see one of the boxes supplied by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust being erected.
    This box was purchased following the Trust's barn owl appeal back in spring 2014.

  2. Good to see Fallon is looking more and more like me as the years go on, and on, ...