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.

For daily sightings please visit our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ldv_nnr (@LDV_NNR)

For details of events, volunteer tasks and wildlife images please visit our Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/Lower-Derwent-Valley-Skipwith-Common-NNR

Friday 27 May 2016

22/05/16 - Welcome Vorsabaer!

Throughout the last couple of days of April a large movement of islandic Black-tailed Godwits passed through, and paused briefly in the valley as they refuelled on their way from sites further south, before heading on to their breeding grounds. 32 flew north over Bank Island on the 29th whilst 190 were present on the 30th. However, on the 3rd May we received news that a colour-ringed bird, an adult female called Vorsabaer, had arrived at North Duffield Carrs. This bird had been satellite tagged in Iceland last summer, and having lost her nest through predation in south-west Iceland, left there on the 11th July 2015 – flying 60 hours non-stop before arriving on the upper Ore-Alde estuary in Suffolk. Having spent the winter in this area, wandering to Breydon Water in Norfolk and visiting Minsmere RSPB reserve in Suffolk during the winter, she left Snape on the 30th April before arriving at North Duffield Carrs on the 2nd May. The next day she left the LDV and arrived back in south-east Iceland on the 5th – how fascinating to be able to follow her journey! More information about the project can be found here - http://volg.keningfanegreide.nl/king-of-the-meadows-transmittersite/

Wednesday 18 May 2016

12/05/16 - Herons

Following on from our first visit to the heronry in mid-April when a number of active nests were found, the team returned last week with the hope of ringing a sample of young. 13 chicks were ringed, taking the overall total ringed in the valley to 193, including 100 chicks fitted with our yellow and black colour-rings. Many thanks to the team for their help in ringing the young, which contributes to the long term monitoring scheme in the valley for the 35th year, and the BTO’s long running heronry census scheme. Ringing in the heronry over the years has shown that soon after fledging the young tend to disperse north into North Yorkshire, Cleveland and Northumberland, although one bird headed south in the summer of 2014, into Derbyshire. In most years the young leave the heronry and go straight on to Wheldrake Ings to feed before dispersing – so please keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks and leave any records of colour-ringed birds in the hides, thank you. 

Wednesday 11 May 2016

09/05/16 - Many hands

Recently our NNR staff hosted a volunteering day for staff from Aviva – which saw them swap their desks and office for the pleasant surroundings of Skipwith Common NNR. Armed with hammers, mels and spades, the team did a great job in helping to make further progress on the new easy access boardwalk leading off the bomb bay loop. A great day was had by all, and nicely finished off by fantastic views of a basking Adder on the nearby heath, along with a Common Lizard which appeared to be checking on the construction of a new sun bathing spot. Many thanks to everyone for their hard work and effort – if you work with any company which offers staff the opportunity for corporate volunteering days then please feel free to get in touch.


Last week we were also joined by our East Coast volunteer team, once again making the long journey from Hunmanby and Hornsea. With their help we made good progress in managing our wildlife and butterfly/bee garden ready for the season – whilst there a Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and a Large Red Damselfly dropped in. An hour in the afternoon was then spent extracting timber from Skipwith Common, having recently been felled on one of our chainsaw training courses. As well as managing the NNR this timber provides valuable wildlife habitat, whilst also providing the NNR with an income which goes straight back into the reserve - helping to develop conservation projects, research and educational work. Whilst on the Common a sighting of one of last year’s young Grass Snakes was a welcome bonus to the team. Many thanks to Sandra, Nick and Jeff for all their hard work and good humour.

Friday 6 May 2016

02/05/16 - Owls & local breeding birds

Over the last few weeks we have been starting to see and hear about a lot more Barn Owls around the valley and wider area, which is great news following last year’s dismal breeding season. Hopefully after a year off last summer and a relatively mild winter, these sightings are now a reflection of more positive things to come this year. In comparison to last year when it was suggested that the owls were hunting during the day and struggling to find food, these recent records don’t appear to be in response to a significant food storage. The bird pictured here was photographed hunting successfully by local wildlife photographer Terry Weston, making four successful catches during his observations. Many thanks to Terry for sharing his wonderful photographs.

Whilst out and about Terry also managed to capture the following two images, the first being of one of our breeding pairs of Mute Swans at North Duffield Carrs. The ongoing and extensive floodwater that continues to linger throughout the valley initially delayed the onset of breeding for our resident swans, however the first eggs were spotted at North Duffield Carrs on the 18th April, with the first completed clutch of five having been laid by the 26th. Once all the eggs have been laid the female starts incubating to ensure that they will all hatch at the same time – approximately 35-40 days from the last egg being laid. If all goes to plan and hatching is successful, we’ll hopefully see the appearance of this year’s cygnets towards the end of May. 


The lingering floodwater in the valley may have created an unwelcome impact on both the meadows and breeding wader populations, however some species are clearly benefiting from the ongoing conditions - Coot being one of them. Numbers of Coot usually build up from December through to late March, birds will then move through the site on spring passage from sites further south in the UK. However, with conditions as they are many of the birds have remained - last week our NNR staff counted 635 birds - including 104 incubating nests. With Coots laying a large number of eggs (typically 8-11) it could be a bumper breeding season for them. Many thanks to Terry for another stunning image, taken recently at North Duffield Carrs.