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, 18 November 2016

10/11/16 - Changing of the seasons

With the nights drawing in and the weather turning a little more autumnal we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of returning wintering waterfowl of late. Following the hard work over recent months managing the scrub and pool side vegetation at Wheldrake Ings, the first returning Teal found the improved conditions to their liking and built up quickly to a fine September total of 800+. Numbers since then have further increased to around 1800, with many now scattered throughout the valley and also on nearby Skipwith Common NNR. With relatively stable water levels so far we’ve also managed to catch and ring over 270 since they arrived back this autumn – a great result and significant total of the annual UK total. Arriving in and amongst them in mid-September were also the first 150 Wigeon, back from their breeding grounds in Iceland and Eastern Europe, although over recent days numbers have quickly soared to over 2000 at Bank Island, along with the first returning Shelduck, Pintail, Goldeneye and Goosander. However there is still a long way to go before we see the return of our peak numbers, when Teal and Wigeon can number up to 10,000 and 15,000 respectively, usually in January and February.

Over the last couple of weeks we have also seen the first of our ‘resident’ Whooper Swans arrive back in the valley. Numbers slowly built up with 25 by the end of October, and up to 41 over recent days, with the herd returning to their favoured fields at the north end of North Duffield Carrs. Birds have also been seen visiting the pool at Wheldrake Ings where local birder, Duncan Bye, managed to see and photograph a colour-ringed bird ‘G5F’. This bird, an adult male, was caught and ringed at North Duffield Carrs in our last cannon net catch on the 28th November 2013, as part of a partnership project with the WWT. After the catch G5F remained with us throughout the winter, however the following year he didn’t return here, choosing to winter in the Lothian area of Scotland instead, and again possibly in 2015 as he was re-sighted at Caerlaverock WWT reserve, Dumfries on the 5th March 2016. It’s great to see him back in the LDV this winter, and hopefully he’ll be the first of a few colour-ringed birds to arrive over the coming weeks as the herd builds up to the usual number of 100+ individuals. If you’re visiting the reserve please let us know of any colour-ringed birds you come across thank you.

Following a relatively dry summer and autumn so far (which has provided great conditions for the team to catch up on all the land management jobs around the valley), the heavy rain on the coast and moors last weekend caused the River Derwent to rise and start some localised flooding. So it’s been a race against time this last week to finish the flailing on Bank Island as the first water of the autumn poured over the ditches and onto the site – fortunately we managed to finish it just in the nick of time on Tuesday, as by Wednesday morning the newly cut areas were all under water. The site now looks great and is set to attract both wintering wildfowl and waders over the coming weeks and months – over 1000 Wigeon were present this morning. 

Whilst the birds are the main attraction around the Lower Derwent Valley, nearby Skipwith Common is home to a world of fungi. Whilst working on there last week the team came across a rather vivid species pictured below - as you might expect with a name like Orange Peel, this species resembles just that! One of the brightest and easily recognisable fungi, Orange Peel can be seen from late summer into early winter, usually on bare ground or grass in disturbed areas. Look down the well walked tracks on Skipwith Common NNR and you might just come across it, particularly on the path which runs alongside ‘Adder Heath’.

Initially starting out as a concave orange ‘cup’, the fungus then becomes convex, and can vary in colour from pale orange to a deep orange-red inside. Generally cup fungi are inedible, with most being highly poisonous, however Orange Peel is one of the very few edible species. Despite its appealing look and name, Orange Peel is considered to be quite bland and tasteless, resulting in it usually being put in salads for decoration rather than for enjoyment! Please let us know of any fungi you come across when visiting the Common by using the log books provided.

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