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 30 June 2017

22/06/17 - Hobby release

Last month Jean received a call from Battleflatts Vets with news of an injured Hobby collected from a site in Withernsea on the East Coast. With the injury being a badly broken wing, it seemed that this beautiful bird was destined for certain death, however with both the expertise of Mark at Battleflatts Vets, and Jean, this bird was definitely in the right hands. After Mark did a great job of pinning and strapping the wing, Jean took over with her amazing care and specialist knowledge. With it being such a bad break, she, an adult female, was confined to a small box in order to let the wing start to heal. However, with the break dangerously close to the joint, it was important not to allow the wing to be strapped for too long as the repairing bone can then cause the joint to become immobile. 
 On the mend - c/o Leanne Hoeness-heather

By the second week of June the bandage came off and she was flying at a low height – things were starting to look promising! Fast forward another week and the hard work, skill and patience paid off on Tuesday morning when the bird was judged by Jean to be ready for release, having spent the last week exercising in a more spacious aviary. Following consultation with several specialists, she was released onto the NNR – the idea being that the valley would offer her plenty of easy feeding opportunities whilst she regained her strength and improved her flying. She’s already missed this year’s opportunity for breeding but at least she'll have plenty of time to continue to improve before heading off to Africa for the winter. 

 The last goodbye

Well done to Jean and Mark for their efforts, not only in saving this birds life, but for all they and what they manage to achieve.

Off she goes!

Thursday 29 June 2017

14/06/17 - Springwatch Peregrines

As many of our regular followers will know, local wildlife rehabber and LDV volunteer Jean Thorpe, spends her time helping sick and injured wildlife back into the wild, with this week being no different – other than involving the BBC Springwatch film crew. Last week Jean received a call from the RSPB Investigation Team with the news of three juvenile Peregrine chicks lifted from a nest in Ludlow, Shropshire, after both parents had been found dead nearby, presumably illegally killed. 

Dead Peregrine - c/o Tim Jones

After a short stint with Jean, keeping warm and feeding up, the chicks, two females and a male, were soon to be on their way to foster nests. 

Peregrine chick - c/o Tim Jones

With much consideration taken over choosing the nests, depending on the number of chicks already present and accessibility, it was decided that the two females would be placed in a quarry nest in the Peak District, whilst the small male would go to Salisbury Catherdral where he will join another single male chick. Hopefully a sad story will now have a happy ending - well done Jean and all involved at the RSPB. If you missed it on Springwatch then you can watch the episode (07/06) on the BBC iplayer.

Jean ringing the chicks before release

Wednesday 28 June 2017

11/06/17 - National Volunteer Week

This week has been National Volunteer Week – an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK, which leaves us thinking where we would be without our team… more than likely sinking under an ever increasing backlog of jobs! Over the last few weeks our small, but fantastic group of volunteers, have been busy helping us undertake a number of tasks on the reserve and surrounding area, from weed wiping, spraying, nest box making, extracting and processing timber, surveying, fencing, trimming paths, painting hides, goose gathering, litter picking, gardening, helping with corporate work days/events and finally ragwort pulling. We honestly couldn’t have got it all done without the extra help, so a big thank you to our team for giving up their time and getting stuck in to whatever task they face, and always arriving with a smile – even in the winter when it’s freezing cold, raining and blowing a gale! If any of the above appeals and you fancy doing your bit for the environment (whilst also making new friends and helping your own health and well-being), then please feel free to get in touch.

Thursday 15 June 2017

09/06/17 - Aviva lend a hand

Last week we were pleased to welcome back one of the regular teams from the insurance company Aviva, for another day working at the NNR base as part of their allocated corporate volunteering time. The team did a sterling effort helping make numerous Swift and Barn Owl nest boxes as part of our ongoing project in partnership with local parishes and the farming community. We’ve already got all of our nesting boxes for Swifts up in the surrounding villages for this year, so the boxes made on the day will go towards next year’s season. 

The team also helped extract and process timber from Skipwith Common ready for the autumn/winter, which will help to raise further funds to support the work we undertake on and around the reserves.

So a big thank you to everyone for their hard work and efforts on the day – helping to make a real difference improving the area for both wildlife and people alike.

Saturday 10 June 2017

04/06/17 - Gathering geese

Last week saw our annual ‘goose round-up’ on the reserve following a morning of preparation with our ever eager and hardworking volunteers. The team were busy repairing and refurbishing the ‘corale’ and catching pen, which has been underwater since last November. 

After lunch back at the NNR base, the team returned in the afternoon for the much anticipated catch. Once the geese had been located it was merely a waiting game until they made their way on to the pool, resulting in a respectable catch of 36 Greylags, (28 goslings, 6 un-ringed adults and 2 re-traps from previous years). All of the birds were fitted with white colour-rings (engraved with three black numbers/letters) as part of a joint project with the WWT and Kane Brides. The darvic rings will hopefully increase the number of sightings of these birds, and help further understand the movement of Yorkshire’s population – some birds have been known to undertake a moult migration to the Lake District each year. 

Many thanks for everyone’s efforts throughout the day and for helping to support our scientific research work, it was also great to welcome several younger ‘trainees’ to get some waterfowl ringing experience as well. As always we couldn’t do it without the team, so a big thank you to everyone who has helped out and contributed to a total of nearly 1000 Greylag Geese ringed on the reserve since 1990, with recoveries from a range of sites in East/North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Scotland and as far away as Iceland.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

02/06/17 - Wonderful waders

The amazing drumming sound of displaying Snipe is one of ‘thee’ sounds of the Lower Derwent Valley in spring. The drumming sound is the result of the vibration of the stiffened outer tail feathers which are held out at right angles to the body, as the birds (having climbed up to a height) suddenly dive towards the ground, causing air to rush over them. Although drumming can be heard throughout the day, it is more commonly encountered at dawn and dusk, we were fortunate last week to watch an individual partake in this display act, before settling into a field full of buttercups, pictured here. We’re pleased to report that it appears to be a good year for Snipe in the valley, with a number of birds regularly being seen and heard displaying from the hides at Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs. 

Our nationally important hay meadows are not only home to Snipe, but also to a number of pairs of Lapwing. Lapwings, also known locally as Pewits (after the sound of their call), are one of the commoner breeding waders in the meadows of the Lower Derwent Valley, as well as being equally at home on surrounding arable fields. 

To try and help maintain our local population, which are facing a national decline, we’ve been working hard over the last few years clearing scrub from the site to open it up, reducing perches for crows which can take eggs and young chicks, and managing vegetation and water levels to provide suitable conditions for successful breeding. The early results from this year’s survey work suggest this hard work is delivering the results we were hoping, with in the region of 100 pairs breeding on the Ings across the valley – showing that breeding success is higher than in recent years. Whilst we’ve been out and about working in the meadows we’ve been fortunate to come across a number of broods, and have ringed over 20 chicks so far.