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 24 May 2017

17/05/17 - Deer delight

Throughout the last few weeks we have been fortunate to see large numbers of Roe Deer across the reserve – with the bucks looking rather splendid like the one pictured below, with their antlers covered in soft velvet. It won’t be long before we start to see the newly born young in the meadows, with them usually appearing between May and June. The young are often left hidden by the females for periods of the day, so don’t be alarmed if you come across one alone, the female won’t be far away - please don’t approach one, or attempt to pick one up, the mother will return once you’ve departed to a safe distance. Spotting a deer is always a pleasure, especially a stunning male like this one – many thanks to local wildlife photographer Terry Weston for the use of his superb image from a close encounter he had recently in the valley – they don’t get much better than this! 

Friday 19 May 2017

14/05/17 - Spring

With the breeding season well underway we are now starting to see various broods appearing around the reserve. Some of the early nesters such as Grey Herons, have quite large young which should be fledging any day, before heading on the Ings to practice their feeding techniques. It appears to be a productive year for Tawny Owls with good clutch sizes reported – a total of five pairs are present around Skipwith Common NNR with other pairs in the local area now feeding young, and we’ve seen several sizeable broods of Mallard ducklings on site. Last week Jean brought in the first of her hand reared orphaned ducklings to be released on the reserve – no doubt the first of many that will get such a helping hand. The local Greylag Goose population has enjoyed a successful start to the season with up to 50 goslings already present in the crèche at Wheldrake Ings, whilst the boxes at the reserve base are a hive of activity with nesting Tree Sparrows. 

The pair of Kestrels at the NNR base have also been quite vocal lately as they re-strengthen their bond after returning to their nest site following a winter elsewhere. Over the next few weeks they will be actively defending ‘their’ box from other birds prospecting for suitable holes and other nesting sites in which to breed. The female will then start to lay a clutch of eggs, usually between 4-6, with the first young hatching in late May or early June. By mid-June we’ll think about starting our next box checks, hopefully discovering that it has been a successful season for one of our favourite birds of prey. We are always interested to hear about local breeding pairs in order to monitor the population and plan our nest box scheme to best effect to benefit these and other species. Many thanks to local wildlife photographer Terry Weston for his superb image taken recently near the valley. 

Whilst we’ve been keeping busy lately managing the reserves, we’ve also managed to squeeze in a bit of monitoring and research work with several dawn catches of wildfowl. Although most of the wintering ducks have now departed back to the breeding areas in Iceland and Western Europe, many of our local breeding ducks remain. Last week Dan and George joined us from the East Coast to gain more whoosh netting and waterfowl ringing experience which can then be applied at other sites, thus helping us to understand more about the movements of birds either breeding or passing through the region. The Lower Derwent Valley supports a large inland breeding Shelduck population, with the females possibly now incubating clutches in local hay/straw stacks, tree cavities and rabbit holes on surrounding farmland, whilst the males hold feeding territories on the Ings. The broods then appear briefly on the Ings before being taken down the River Derwent and crèched on the Upper Humber. Hopefully they will have another successful year and raise more broods like this one photographed at Thornton Ellers last year.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

06/05/17 - Tern arrival

This week saw the arrival of two new custom made tern rafts from GFB (Green Future Builds), which, with the help of our volunteers, were swiftly moved into position on the pool at Wheldrake Ings and at Bank Island. These rafts were purchased by the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley, following a private donation, which was very gratefully received, along with funds raised from the cards, calendars and logs which have all helped to make this possible. 

After several years of having ‘homemade’ rafts, it’s fantastic to have the ‘real deal’ now, fingers crossed the local Common Terns who have started to colonise the wider area will take advantage of these new rafts and add to the valley’s breeding birds. It’s looking promising already - two days after the rafts were put in place a pair were seen copulating on them - watch this space... Many thanks to the great efforts of our team of volunteers for helping to get them into place, and also to the fantastic work done by the Friends of the LDV in delivering such projects, and all of those who have helped support them in generating funds - more news to follow soon on their great work. 

Thanks also to Green Future Builds for designing such high quality rafts, GFB is a not for profit social enterprise, that works in partnership with other trusts, charities and social enterprises. Projects are aimed at creating opportunities for people and communities to develop skills, continue training and generate employment in the nature conservation and green build sector. Thanks once again to all those involved.