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 23 July 2018

09/07/18 - Tern raft success

Two months ago, as the floodwater finally receded enough, our team helped us carry the tern raft onto the top pond at North Duffield Carrs (easier said than done), so it was great to return last week with everyone to see the result of their efforts. As we pulled the raft in from the middle of the pond it was fantastic to see three healthy chicks present, with two of them using the little shelters we put out for them last month. This is only the second time Common Terns have bred successfully in the valley following the provision of the two rafts last year thanks to a kind private donation to the ‘Friends of’ group. There is also presently another pair incubating on the reserve at Wheldrake Ings on our second raft, so this could be another record-breaking year. Up to five pairs were present earlier in the spring but our rafts appear a bit on the small side for them to share so we are hoping to install more onto the reserve next year – please help the ‘Friends’ purchase additional rafts, as well as delivering other benefits by supporting their new Go Fund Me campaign - https://www.gofundme.com/conserving-the-lower-derwent-valley.

Three years ago, the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley set up a trust to help conserve the LDV NNR and have done a fantastic job with their efforts. In just a short space of time they have built up an impressive track record having made financial contributions as match funding to bids by both Natural England and YWT for management and visitor works, and have secured various grants and donations for the Swift project and tern rafts. They have also contributed to the research carried out on our nationally and internationally important bird populations and have recently been successful in securing funding for reed bed creation in the valley, but now they’re asking for additional help.
Following on from the success of those projects, the ‘Friends’ are now looking to increase their funds to help support other projects in the local area – providing Sand Martin nesting banks, purchasing and re-creating traditional floodplain meadows for Corncrake management and further satellite tagging of our migratory bird populations. After the success of the first tern raft last year they would also like to provide another raft. However, they need a bit of help along the way, and following on from a few offers of donations recently, have decided to set up a 'Go Fund Me' page to help generate funding. For anyone interested in wildlife and conservation in the local area please visit their page using the link above, to help them deliver even more great benefits for both local wildlife and people that visit the Lower Derwent Valley, thank you.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

05/07/18 - Wader central

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts on our Facebook page, it has been a very good year for our breeding waders, including Curlew, Snipe, Redshank and the familiar Lapwing or ‘Pewit’ as they are also known. Following our intensive management efforts over recent years, numbers are slowly increasing and we’ve seen good numbers of young broods around this year. More importantly, these chicks are surviving and we are seeing plenty of fledged young around the reserve at the moment. Whilst working at North Duffield Carrs last week we came across a couple of large broods that have just fledged as well as a newly hatched brood that won’t be on the wing for another few weeks yet – possibly a replacement clutch following an earlier attempt nearby. Hopefully this good breeding success will add more birds to our local population on and around the valley in coming years, so that we can continue to enjoy the tumbling displays of these delightful waders in spring on the Ings. 

Next up is one of our favourite species - the Curlew, with its rather haunting and ‘wild’ bubbling call it is one of the delights of the valley each year during spring and early summer. Despite an alarming decline across many parts of the country we are still lucky in having a good population here, with 50 pairs on and around the NNR this year (up from 46 pairs last year). This is great news, and despite the late spring, breeding success appears to be high. Whilst undertaking work around the reserve early in the season we came across several nests with eggs and have since seen several broods. It’s not just our Corncrakes that benefit from the bird friendly mowing practices that have been carried out recently – we were delighted to come across a near fledged brood of two Curlew chicks running amongst the cut rows of drying hay on Rosewood’s Farm’s plot at North Duffield Carrs. We were also pleased to find a further Curlew chick, a bit smaller but due to fledge later in the week, at North Duffield Ings, again thanks must go to all the local farmers and contractors who have been so vigilant in keeping an eye out and slowing down for our ground nesting birds.

It’s been a really busy time of year recently, with most of it spent knee-deep in ragwort, however we’re still trying to fit in some of our survey work, including monitoring our breeding waders. Recently whilst working at North Duffield Carrs, we had this fantastic encounter with a Common Snipe. Looking ahead instead of to the side, we almost drove right on by, when at the last minute the delightful figure of a snipe caught our eye. The snipe, presumably hoping it hadn’t been seen, froze and remained perfectly still providing the opportunity for a few photographs. A rare treat indeed and just fantastic to see one up close, especially being a species which doesn’t normally show itself this well. It stayed motionless for a good five minutes, despite the flies buzzing around it, which perhaps adds to the atmosphere of the photograph. We are pleased to report that our snipe numbers are fairly good this year, with 68 drumming birds located so far – (drumming being the sound made by the displaying males as they fall through the air, vibrating their stiffened outer tail feathers). They are best heard doing this at dawn and dusk (especially the first hour after dusk and again before dawn), with the hides at North Duffield Carrs offering a great opportunity to be able to hear this strange sound of the Ings.

The last of our key wader species is the Redshank. Whilst out with the team of volunteers last week at North Duffield Carrs we were fortunate to have stunning close up views of this individual, as it used one of our fence posts as a ‘lookout’. It appeared to have a brood of unfledged young somewhere nearby in the slightly wetter low-lying vegetation. We didn’t linger for too long, pausing only for a few photographs and to enjoy the moment, then left them to it so as not to disturb them – great to see that another brood are likely to join the wider population. Breeding Redshank, like many lowland breeding waders, have suffered a large national decline, with numbers in the valley also falling dramatically in recent years. However, our recent management efforts seem to be paying off as the few remaining pairs around the Ings appear to have raised good numbers of young this year. The last of the local breeders usually move off in mid-July, with just the odd passage juvenile appearing on the pool at Wheldrake Ings from then to early October, before the wintering population starts to return with rising water levels.