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

Tuesday 31 October 2017

22/10/17 - Helping hand from Agrii

Over the last few weeks we’ve started to get our winter feeding stations up and running around the reserve, to help give our feathered friends a boost as natural food starts to become scarce and the weather begins to turn a little colder. Visitors to the reserve can enjoy the feeding station at Bank Island which is already hosting around 40 Tree Sparrows from our large breeding population in the boxes around the NNR base. There are also good numbers of Goldfinch at the moment – although a flock (or ‘charm’) of 300 are currently present on Wheldrake Ings, feeding on Autumn Hawkbit seed heads, so numbers may increase yet. This year’s grain for both our winter feeding stations and our waterfowl ringing programme has been kindly donated to the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley by Agrii-UK, based in Pocklington – this will be a huge assistance in supporting the work we do and for which we are most grateful – many thanks to all involved.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

19/10/17 - Shieldbug spotting

Last week whilst working on Skipwith Common NNR, we were pleased to still see some of our shieldbug species enjoying the last of the autumn sunshine. A number of Green Shieldbugs were recorded on the birch scrub (first/second photographs), whilst c25 Gorse Shieldbugs were also recorded, along with a single Birch and Spiked on bramble. A quick stop off at North Duffield Carrs on the way back also produced another 6 Spiked Shieldbugs (third photograph) in a small patch of nettles by the Geoff Smith Hide. At the weekend with temperatures soaring to 20 degrees, no doubt many more were out enjoying the warm weather - so keep your eyes peeled on warm sunny days! However on a day like today, they will no doubt have sought refuge somewhere dry!

Monday 23 October 2017

16/10/17 - SEO

Not only do our logs keep you warm in the winter, whilst helping generate funds to support some of the conservation projects in the valley (along with saving you money!), but they are also well used by some of the wildlife so expertly cared for by Jean Thorpe at Ryedale Rehabilitation. Pictured below is a stunning Short-eared Owl, making good use of one of the larger logs whilst in Jean’s care. This bird is currently recovering from a dislocated wing, fractured collar bone and broken air sacks, having been picked up at Flamborough Head, possibly having just arrived here from the continent. Fingers crossed this beautiful bird makes a full recovery and is soon back in the wild. Many thanks as always to Jean for her expert care and dedication to our wildlife. 

Monday 16 October 2017

11/10/17 - Redwing return

Over the last few days we’ve seen, and heard, the arrival of the first of our winter thrushes, with Redwings being the first to appear, arriving in small numbers from Scandinavia. Their high pitched calls can be heard overhead during the hours of darkness as they migrate westwards, and tired and hungry flocks can often be seen chattering as they search hedgerows for berry laden bushes on which they feed. There are only a small number of birds around at the moment, but as the weather turns colder and the supply of fruit and berries becomes depleted, larger numbers will return once again to the Ings to feed on the edge of the damp meadows, taking advantage of the high numbers of earthworms and other invertebrate prey. They will then return to their breeding grounds further east from mid-March so there is plenty of time yet to see them - as always when visiting the NNR please leave any records in the log books provided, thank you. 

Wednesday 11 October 2017

09/10/17 - Beardies & Greys

At the weekend two Bearded Tits were seen going into roost at Wheldrake Ings – the first sighting there this autumn. Bearded Tits are resident in the UK throughout the year and disperse from their breeding sites during the autumn, sometimes undertaking regular ‘eruptions’ - these are marked by flocks of birds rising out of their breeding reed beds and taking high, towering flights with lots of excited calling, small groups then peel off and disperse. It is these birds that can turn up at this time of year away from their usual haunts, making it a good time to look out for them in suitable habitat within our area. Over the next month areas with reed beds or reed fringes are worth checking for these amazing little birds, often noticed first by their distinctive ‘pinging’ calls, the small reed beds at Wheldrake Ings have been a local ‘hotspot’ in previous years. Many thanks to local birder Duncan Bye for sending in his super photograph of a stunning male taken at Wheldrake Ings this time last year.

It has also been pleasing to see an increase in the numbers of Grey Partridge around the valley this year, last month two large groups (coveys) were recorded, with 19 present at Melbourne Ings on the 10th and a covey of eight (presumably a family party), on Bubwith Ings on the 16th. Sadly Grey Partridge have undergone a dramatic decline in the UK over the last 30 years, in line with many other farmland bird species. Changing land management practices, intensification and speed of management operations have perhaps contributed to such declines, and possibly the competition from the vast numbers of Red-legged Partridges that are released each year for shooting. Small numbers of Greys remain around the LDV with pockets of populations in Thornton, Thorganby, Storwood and North Duffield - the recent increase in sightings is a welcome change of fortune for the species locally.

Monday 9 October 2017

05/10/17 - Recoveries

Migration is very much in evidence in the LDV at present as the first of the incoming winter visitors start to arrive. Our ringing studies have already shown a link between the valley and 25 other countries as well as information on movements within the UK. Recent recoveries include a young Reed Warbler that was ringed at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th August, moving 381 Km to the south to Fleet, Dorset in just 11 days on the first leg of its migration. A Lesser Redpoll ringed near Melbourne in November 2015 was re-trapped by ringers in Scotland, at Carluke, South Lanarkshire, 277 Km to the north just a couple of weeks ago. 

We’ve also just heard that one of the Herring Gulls colour-ringed at the local landfill site in February this year, was re-sighted off a trawler in the Barents Sea, Arctic Ocean, 2500 Km away, showing that our ‘local’ birds aren’t quite as local as we might think. 

We’ve been fortunate over the last 20 years to ring 40 Ruff, the results of which have revealed much about their complex lifestyles and movements, and this week we received another such movement. An adult male, ringed in January 2015 as part of the resident wintering population at North Duffield Carrs, was unfortunately found dead on the breeding grounds at Tranøya, Senja, Tranøy, Troms, Norway, 1950 Km to the north-east of the valley. This is the eighth international exchange we’ve recorded, and our second movement between Norway, with a single bird from Sweden and five exchanges between the Netherlands also recorded, showing just how international our ‘local’ birds are. Up to 27 individuals are back in the valley now with numbers often peaking around January and February with over 100 birds.

Please let us know if you come across any colour-ringed birds in the valley on here or by leaving sightings in the hide log books provided, thank you.

Monday 2 October 2017

01/10/17 - Lloyds get stuck in

Last week we were pleased to welcome a team from Lloyds Bank to the reserve for a day of their corporate volunteering time – and on a day which felt more like the middle of summer! With so many extra pairs of hands, along with our small team of volunteers, we split into small groups and tackled various jobs. Firstly undertaking some replacement fencing at Bank Island, to help maintain a stock proof perimeter to allow grazing to take place across the site. Other members of the team enjoyed sawing and loppering willow scrub on Wheldrake Ings to help out the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - now allowing local birders to see properly from Tower Hide. Whilst a third team spent time collecting timber for the winter log supply – all in all a fun and very productive day - many thanks to everyone involved.