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 March 2017

20/03/17 - Aviva return

At the end of last week we hosted another fantastic corporate volunteering event at the NNR base, with a team of twenty staff coming from the York branch of Aviva. With such a sizable team it allowed us to undertake a range of tasks around the reserve – the hides at Bank Island were treated with preserver, the boardwalk around the base was netted to prevent it becoming a hazard in the wet weather and the damaged fencing was repaired and tidied up ahead of the grazing season around Bank Island. 

Other members of the team also helped extract recently felled timber from Skipwith Common NNR, before bringing it back to the base for processing – the off road 4x4 driving being a real highlight for some! Many thanks to all involved for such a productive day and allowing us to strike a few outstanding tasks from the ever growing job list – hopefully we’ll see some of you again later in the year.

Thursday 23 March 2017

15/03/17 - Lizards, frogs & a furry intruder

Last week the first Common Lizard of the year was seen on Skipwith Common NNR - pictured here taking advantage of the warm sunshine. Lizards are usually found sitting in the small cracks and crevices along the old bomb bay walls, often venturing out to soak up the sunshine, then darting back in if they sense someone/something approaching. Fortunately we were able to get close views of this one, seemingly oblivious to our presence and more intent on enjoying the much needed warm weather.

 Common Lizard - Skipwith Common 

It wasn't just the lizard enjoying the weather yesterday, our team of volunteers were hard at work once again, finishing the roof to the new wood shed and building a new enclosure for an atmospheric monitoring station at North Duffield Carrs – helping to provide valuable data to the Long Term Monitoring Network. Thanks once again to our team for another productive and enjoyable day.

 Jeff & Hilary constructing the new woodshed

Along with the lizard, we also spotted the first frog of the year in the pond at the NNR base – one of the signs that spring is underway. 

 Common Frog - NNR base pond

As temperatures start to rise and day length increases, frogs and toads are now starting to move to their breeding grounds after a winter spent in hibernation. Which means two of our volunteers now have another job on their hands - at this time of year on a warm, damp evening, Nick & Sandra are likely to be found patrolling the main road at Hunmanby Gap, helping frogs, toads and newts make their way across as they try and dodge the traffic. Armed with numerous road signs, high-vis jackets and buckets, last year 376 Common Toads, 16 Common Frogs, 15 Great Crested Newts and 28 Smooth Newts were given a helping hand crossing the road, reducing what could otherwise be a high mortality rate. So a big thank you and well done to you both for your incredible commitment to helping our wildlife.

 Home made signs
 Toad on the move
 Sandra checking drains

Aside from our amphibian and reptiles, we recently had a close encounter with one of our mammalian species - whilst re-filling our metal food bins with grain for our duck ringing and bird feeding stations, we came upon two Wood Mice that had climbed up the side and dropped in, then realising they couldn’t get back out, had preceded to make a nest among the wheat and barley. Nestled together it seemed a shame to disturb them, so we spent a few minutes enjoying observing them before setting them free.

 Wood Mouse - NNR base

Wood Mice are common on the reserve and are quite distinctive, with their sandy brown fur, large protruding eyes, large ears and a fairly long tail they are easily separated from our vole species. The large eyes and ears point to the fact that they are largely nocturnal, and spend a lot of time underground in burrows. The burrows are fairly complicated and may include nest chambers and food stores. Food tends to be made up of woodland seeds and nuts, with a greater percentage of insect prey in the summer months. Wood Mice are found in a range of habitats, although they do tend to favour woodland and are least found in open grassland, which fits with them being a key prey item for Tawny Owls (hunters of woodland, hedgerows and parks/gardens). Hopefully this little guy is somewhere else safe now, but no doubt it won’t be the last we see of him now that he knows where a good food supply is!

Monday 6 March 2017

01/03/17 - Bags of Help

There are few sights and sounds that typify late summer than the presence of flocks of screaming Swifts, as they twist and turn in their aerial pursuits of each other around our towns and villages. Sadly though this is becoming an increasingly less frequent event - numbers have declined by over 42% since 1995, with a big factor in this decline thought to be a lack of viable nest sites as old buildings containing nests are demolished or ‘improved’, and new buildings with their modern materials and standards not providing the same opportunities for these amazing little birds. 

New boxes going up around the villages

Around the Lower Derwent Valley NNR the LDV team have been busy working with local communities to raise awareness of the plight of Swifts, by working with local groups and schools in order to tell their story – from the amazing migration and remarkable lifestyle – to helping create nest boxes for local homes, and making flags to welcome the return of the Swifts back to our local area in the next few months. 

Wheldrake school children getting involved

Many people have been kind enough to donate their time and skills, even timber, but the Friends of the LDV have been successful in moving this onto the next level, and in getting this project into the Tesco stores ‘Bags of Help’ scheme, where monies collected from the 5p levy on carrier bags are made available for local projects and good causes, by customers voting in their stores for the one they would like funds to go to. We are pleased to say the Swift project will be part of a vote during March and April so would like to ask anyone who shops in the following areas to please consider using Tesco and voting for our project so we can continue to make sure that our local school children can continue to live in villages that still have skies full of screaming Swifts and be able to enjoy their aerial acrobatics.

Bags of help

All the following stores listed below are taking part in the scheme - please spread the word to families, friends and work colleagues and get voting!

Goole (Tesco Superstore) Boothferry Road DN14 6BB

Harrogate (Tesco Express) Cambridge Road HG1 1AA

Harrogate (Tesco Express) Knaresborough Road HG2 7HY

Knaresborough (Tesco Express) High Street HG5 0EN

Selby (Tesco Superstore) Portholme Road YO8 4QQ

Selby Brayton (Tesco Express) Doncaster Road YO8 9EG

Thirsk (Tesco Superstore) Station Road YO7 1PZ

York Acomb Wood (Tesco Express) Acomb Wood Drive YO24 3XN

York Askham Bar (Tesco Extra) Tadcaster Road YO24 1LW

York Clifton Moor (Tesco Extra) Stirling Road YO30 4XZ

York Goodramgate (Tesco Express) YO1 7LS

York Huntington (Tesco Express) Huntington Road YO31 9HP

York Low Ousegate (Tesco Express) YO1 9QX

York Piccadilly (Tesco Express) YO1 9TU

York Strensall (Tesco Express) The Village YO32 5XR

To check the location of any of the above stores, please go to the Tesco website: http://tesco.com/store-locater/uk/