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

Wednesday 29 June 2016

23/06/16 - Restoring the decoy

Over the last few weeks our band of East Coast volunteers have been lending a helping hand with the ever increasing work load in the valley - and with deadlines looming we've been working hard at the Escrick Duck Decoy, with Reserve Manager Fallon Mahon taking the lead on an exciting restoration project.

Accompanied by Fallon, the team helped put together the screens alongside the netted pipes from which our piper dog, Ruby, will appear, weaving in and out of view and hopefully luring the ducks up the pipes before they are caught – in order to ring them only these days of course. The team worked really hard digging holes, firming in the posts and building the frames to support the screens whilst Ruby looked on – perhaps contemplating her future role! Many thanks as ever to everyone for their hard work and efforts – it’ll be really exciting to see the decoy in operation this autumn for the first time in over 150 years – more details of open days to follow at a later date.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, this is the product of months of hard work in the decoy, which started in autumn 2014, and will hopefully be finished over the course of the next month. From the early to mid-1800s duck decoys were commonly found across the low counties in the UK, with the idea coming from the Netherlands – the Dutch translation of decoy meaning duck trap. The principle plays on the ducks habit of swimming towards a fox and then following it, in order to keep it in view rather than having a surprise attack launched. The dog, looking fox-like, would be used to lure ducks up a netted pipe before the decoy man showed himself, the ducks would then be herded towards the catching area. The decoys largely fell into dis-repair and out of favour when gun powder became much more widely available, and now only a handful of working/restored decoys remain in the country. Many thanks again to everyone involved in the project - especially our fantastic volunteers. 

Monday 27 June 2016

20/06/16 - Goose round-up

Last week the annual goose round-up took place on Wheldrake Ings, involving an early start for the team. Following a productive breeding season there has been a sizable crèche on the pool at Wheldrake over recent weeks, with c130 goslings and 40 adults present on the site. The birds were gently persuaded onto the pool, and then through the willows and poolside vegetation and into our coral where a respectable 31 were caught. The sheer number of the geese present tested the coral fencing to its limit, and forced it over into the water allowing many to break through – repair work to follow... The birds were ringed before being released back onto the pool where they regrouped back into family parties within the larger crèche. Prior to the catch a total of 785 Greylag Geese had been ringed in the valley, the data from which has produced a lot of information on where the local population moves to – more to follow soon. Many thanks to our fantastic team of volunteers for really getting stuck in and not minding the deep water, thick mud & plague of horse flies! 

After releasing the birds back on to the pool, Jean produced a young Grey Heron ready for release back into the wild. The individual, pictured below, ended up in Jean’s care following a collision with a car on the outskirts of York. Presumably this bird either got into some difficulty, or perhaps crash landed due to its inexperience in flying. Fortunately, other than being a bit ‘roughed up’, after a few days TLC, rest and recuperation with Jean, it was ready to be released onto the reserve to join the other recently fledged herons. It’s always a great privilege to see these special birds up close, and a big thank you to Jean for sharing this special moment with our volunteers. 

Monday 20 June 2016

17/06/16 - Greatest & littlest

Following on from our post earlier in the year about a young Great Crested Grebe that was released in the valley, last week Jean appeared with another GCG, this time a splendid adult male in superb breeding plumage. It had been found in a garden in York with superficial stab wounds to its face and had rather sore feet – it had likely wandered into the territory of a breeding pair on one of the nearby ponds and been attacked, forcing it to struggle on land (for which they aren’t well adapted for) or perhaps forced into crash landing in an unfortunate location. Unable to take off from land very well it was kindly rescued and sent to Battle Flatt Vets where they treated it with antibiotic’s, and deemed it fit enough to go straight back out. Jean thought it would be unwise to return it to the nearby water bodies near to where it had been picked up, for fear of it ending up in the same situation again, so she released it here onto the reserve, which following the extensive flooding still has several non-breeding Great Crests remaining.

Jean has also been busy working her magic with a Little Owl recently, from Melbourne. The unfortunate owl had been found in a local garden, after being brought in by a cat, and in the process had suffered a broken wing. However, as wing breaks go this one was in a good place for healing and was a clean simple break. Three weeks rest and TLC at Jean’s with all her skill and expertise, soon saw it fighting fit and raring to go again. Jean brought it into the NNR base on the day of release to show our two new apprentice’s, before returning it to Melbourne village where it could hopefully be reunited with its mate.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

29/05/16 - Looking good

After another fantastic day’s work with our East Coast team of volunteers, the hides at Bank Island have been painted and spruced up, new noticeboards have been fixed and decorated, steps have been repaired, paths have been cleared and the NNR Base wildlife garden is looking good after a thorough weed! Many thanks to the team – Nick, Sandra, Jeff & Jack for all their help.