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

Monday 18 December 2017

13/12/17 - Nestle return

Last week we received some additional, and very welcome help, as a team of staff from Nestle in York joined us for a day of their volunteering allowance. The original plan was to work on Wheldrake Ings, helping the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust complete the boardwalk, but the recent flooding following last week’s snow melt forced a change of task and location. Instead, the team headed off to Skipwith Common to complete this winter’s scrub control programme - helping to maintain the internationally important mix of open wet and dry heathland communities, which support the special wildlife that visitors to the Common enjoy. Many thanks to everyone involved for a great days work and company – you’d all be welcome back anytime – and there is still the boardwalk to finish off at some point! 

Friday 15 December 2017

07/12/17 - Winter workout

Last week our team of staff and volunteers were hard at work on Wheldrake Ings, helping out the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust by burning the remaining piles of scrub, felled earlier in the autumn. If the piles had been left it’s likely that they could have floated off in the winter floods and cause damage to the hay making machinery next summer. Any scrub piles can also host species like foxes and rats, which can adversely have an impact on our breeding bird populations if they are breeding in the heart of the reserve.

It was another cold start to the day, but once the work began and the fire was started everyone warmed up nicely. With a concentrated effort we managed to get the last pile carried to the fire and burnt before the end of the day, and now looking at the current view of the Ings – flooded up to the top of the gates – it may be the last time we work on there this winter! So not only was it well timed, but it also provided an instant success with the birds – with the area hosting a Glossy Ibis this weekend.

Friday 8 December 2017

01/12/17 - Fieldfare arrival

Over recent days and weeks we’ve witnessed a notable influx of Fieldfares, along with other thrushes into the valley. These winter visitors arrive in the UK from October onwards from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and continental Europe, when food sources such as rowan berries, become exhausted - up to as many as 750,000 individuals can winter throughout the UK. 

Fieldfares are rather nomadic birds, moving through the country exploiting local crops of berries, and using damp grasslands and agricultural land in the search of earthworms and other invertebrates. Birds will often continue to move west and south as the winter progresses and temperatures fall – giving the origin of the name ‘feldware’ in Anglo-Saxon, which means ‘traveler of the fields’. Birds will return to the valley once again in March as they depart and head back to their breeding grounds. As always when visiting the valley please let us know of any records/sightings you come across, along with any sightings you may have from the local area.

Thursday 7 December 2017

28/11/17 - Back to school

Last week our team of staff and volunteers spent a couple of days helping out a local school in York, Long Marston, to improve their nature area and wildlife pond, which will hopefully help inspire an interest in the natural environment with the young children. Our team of volunteers first attended on Tuesday to help carry out some of the initial work, clearing out the pond and replacing the liner, and getting the site ready for a team of Natural England staff from the York office who kindly used their corporate volunteering and development day on Thursday to help further improve the pond. 

Whilst there the team also helped construct a boardwalk and pond dipping platform with Reserve Manager Fallon Mahon, using timber donated from Jewsons to the Friends of the LDV.  Many thanks to everyone for the hard work helping to improve this valuable wildlife area – there was certainly plenty of interest from the pupils on the day which was great to see – roll on spring! 

Friday 1 December 2017

25/11/17 - Winter ringing

Our winter feeding station at Bank Island has certainly been busy lately – attracting a large number of birds which have been enjoyed by the many visitors to the reserve. Up to c50 Tree Sparrows have been present in recent weeks, whilst c40 Goldfinch have added a splash of colour. It’s also been nice to enjoy seeing several Willow Tits using the feeders. As well as providing our feathered friends with a much needed boost as the weather turns colder, it offers us the chance to catch and ring a percentage, and allows us to contribute data into the national monitoring schemes – whilst also providing the opportunity to help train the next generation of ornithologists and researchers. Earlier this week George Day swapped the East Coast for the LDV, and enjoyed a successful catch made up of 70+ birds including a good number of finches – Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch and Tree Sparrows. 

Also during the morning, we were pleasantly surprised to find a female Blackcap in one of the rounds – pictured below. Until not long ago, we knew the Blackcap as a summer visitor which arrived in the UK around April, and left again for southern Europe or northern Africa in September. However since the 1960s, the number of Blackcaps which spend the winter in the UK has grown, with ringing showing that many of these have come from Germany (and elsewhere in Eastern Europe), so it's no longer a rare sight to see them in the middle of winter, if you’re lucky you may be fortunate to see one in your garden, where they visit to take advantage of the extra food we supply. To try and tempt them in try putting out fruit, perhaps an apple in the branches of a bush or tree, fat or even seeds.

Many thanks to George for joining us on the day, and it was great to be able to show Mike and the students from AdAstra a few birds at close range, and thanks once again to Agrii-UK for their kind ongoing support of grain for our feeding stations.