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 29 September 2017

26/09/17 - 2018 LDV Calendar

Hot off the press! The new 2018 LDV calendar is now available at £6.99 – available from the NNR base or can be posted (no extra cost). As per the last two years, this calendar has been produced by the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley (FoLDV), with proceeds from the sales going towards conservation projects across the reserve. With thanks to the sales from the previous year’s calendars, along with log and card sales, and a kind donation, two new tern rafts were purchased earlier in the year from Green Future Building, in time for the breeding season. Only a day after being in situ, a pair of Common Terns had already found them, checking out both the one at Bank Island and the one on the pool at Wheldrake, before choosing the latter. The pair went on to raise two chicks, whilst a second pair also laid eggs – encouraging signs for colonisation of the site. Many thanks to everyone who has supported the ‘Friends’ and helped make this possible through generous donations. Please get in touch with us on here or via our Facebook page if you'd like to purchase one - thank you.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

21/09/17 - Aviva lend a hand

Another great day this week working with a team from the York branch of Aviva - as part of their allocated volunteering days. Helping out and working alongside our Reserve Manager Fallon Mahon and volunteers, Nick and Sandra, the team got stuck into various jobs on the reserve. Splitting into smaller teams a number of jobs were tackled in the morning – path clearance, gate repairs and gardening at the NNR base, the afternoon was then spent collecting felled timber and splitting/stacking logs into the wood shed for next winter – ensuring an ongoing supply throughout this year and into next. The work we get done on days such as this really is invaluable in helping out our small team in managing the reserves, so a big thank you to everyone involved. If you work for a company that offers corporate volunteering days and fancy joining our team for the day then please don't hesitate to get in touch.  


Sunday 24 September 2017

20/09/17 - Rhodo removal

Last week our team of volunteers once again visited Forge Valley Woods NNR, with Reserve Manager Fallon Mahon to start removing Rhododendron. This is a partnership project that has been funded via external grants secured by the Raincliffe Woods Community Enterprise and the Woodland Trust, with the aim of helping to remove this non-native species from the woodland. Whilst arguably attractive, Rhododendron can form dense areas of cover where native flora is suppressed, and due to the plant containing toxins it can further eliminate surrounding vegetation growth such as the carpets of Bluebells, Wild Garlic, Dog's Mercury, Sanicle, and various ferns to name but a few that carpet the woodland floor. More clearance will be happening across the woodlands at Forge Valley and Raincliffe Woods during the coming winter, so hopefully by next spring we’ll see a real difference as a result of the work.  Many thanks to everyone once again for their efforts.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

17/09/17 - Flailing the day away

It's that time of year again when we’ve been out and about on the tractor carrying out further land management throughout the valley. We’ve been busy flailing the edges of the meadows and ditch sides to stop invasive, more dominant species from creeping out into the edges of the flower rich meadows – such as Himalayan Balsam, Creeping Thistle and Common Stinging Nettle. Flailing also helps maintain the areas that the local farmers can cut for hay, furthering maintaining the amount of valuable habitat. It also prevents such areas being taken over by willows or hawthorn scrub, and helps maintain suitable spots for small mammals, hunting owls and other predators, whilst also providing early and late season cover for species such as Corncrakes and Quail. 

Last week we were joined by our own flock of Swallows feeding on the insects we disturbed on the vegetation as we went round the ditches on Wheldrake Ings. Whilst on the tractor we’ve also been fortunate to be able to enjoy a raptor spectacle, with a Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzards, Kestrels and Hobbies all hunting over the freshly cut grass.  

Whilst working in the meadows over the last few weeks we’ve also been seeing numerous frogs and toads – particularly young ones. At this time of year as autumn approaches our frogs and toads are busy feeding up on insects, slugs and spiders in preparation for the coming winter. Later in the season with the cold weather fast approaching they will then start to seek out a suitable spot to spend the next few months in, such as a log pile or compost heap, some individuals also might choose to over winter at the bottom of a pond, burying themselves underneath the silt. Frogs don’t hibernate all winter like some creatures do, any mild patches of weather will usually bring them out in search of food. This individual was photographed in the NNR base garden as it made its way over the wildflower meadow, fortunately escaping the clutches of the allen scythe!

Saturday 16 September 2017

15/09/17 - Manxies driven inland

Yesterday three Manx Shearwaters were picked up in the wider area surrounding the LDV – with singles at Barmby Moor, Howden and the outskirts of York – all found in gardens. These black and white seabirds spend most of their time out to sea, only coming ashore to breed in colonies in the UK, usually on offshore islands where they are safe from rats and other ground predators. Young birds start to leave their nest sites in July and August to migrate to the coast of South America, where they spend the winter, returning in late February and March. These three individuals, all young birds, may well have been ‘wrecked’ inland due to recent storms on the West Coast, which has seen the rescue of over 150 grounded birds in Pembrokeshire, Wales. All three birds were rehabilitated, ringed and returned to the coast by Jean Thorpe and the RSPCA, representing the 2nd, 3rd & 4th individuals to be ringed in the area, and only the 6th-8th records - all of which have been picked up exhausted having been storm driven in autumn (last year Jean had three birds in, also on the 14th September). Many thanks to Jean for returning them back to where they belong.

Friday 15 September 2017

08/09/17 - Teal to Finland

With the weather feeling a little more autumnal of late we are now seeing the first build up in returning waterfowl back on the NNR. Numbers of Teal have risen over the last week to 190 and have brought with them the first two returning Wigeon of the season – only another 25,000 of these two species to go to reaching our annual peak counts! Other birds will undoubtedly already be on their way or starting out on their epic migrations from their breeding grounds in Iceland and across Northern Europe and into Russia. Today we’ve received a new ringing recovery from the BTO - a Teal ringed on the reserve at North Duffield Carrs in January 2015, has just been recovered in Veteli, Vaasa, Finland – 1780 Km to the north east of the valley on the 31st August. Numbers here should start to increase quickly from now on, by the end of the month there could 500-1000 using the pool at Wheldrake Ings - as always when visiting the reserve please leave any records in the hide log books provided, thank you.

Monday 4 September 2017

01/09/17 - Return to Forge

On Tuesday this week the team were working at Forge Valley Woods NNR (a great example of a valley side of mixed deciduous woodland), and located near Scarborough meant shorter commute for our East Coast volunteers, although a long trip for our West Yorkshire based volunteer Emily – dedication as always! The day was spent strimming and raking off the area of limestone grassland above the quarries where species like Rock Rose, Quaking Grass, Wild Thyme and Primrose flourish, whilst providing a valuable nectar source for many of our dead wood invertebrates. After a successful and hard morning on the slopes, lunch was had lunch by the river, and whilst there we caught and ringed a Dipper - it’s always a real treat to see one at such close range and to be able to share it with our hard working team was fantastic. 

Some of the team then joined up with local botanist Chris Wilson and successfully relocated the Royal Ferns that were re-introduced onto the site four years ago – great to know they are still flourishing and adding to visitor’s enjoyment of this fabulous place. Many thanks once again to our team for all their efforts