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.

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Friday, 9 November 2018

01/11/18 - Winter thrushes

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen, and heard, the arrival of the first of our winter thrushes as north-easterly winds coming out of Scandinavia has allowed the first waves of birds to cross the North Sea. Redwings are usually the first thrushes to appear, arriving in small numbers from Scandinavia from early October. Their high-pitched calls can be heard overhead during the hours of darkness as they migrate westwards, whilst tired and hungry flocks can often be seen chattering as they search hedgerows for berry laden bushes on which they feed, such as those around the base at Bank Island. Local bird ringer Mike Jackson has been having some good success at catching and ringing some of these migrating birds as they pass over Wheldrake Ings – with 63 ringed in recent weeks – hopefully leading to some valuable information of the movements of these birds. One of the birds caught was of the darker Icelandic breeding population – more regularly found wintering along the west coast of the UK. After wintering here, they will then return to their breeding grounds 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. 

As well as watching an arrival of Redwings over recent weeks, we’ve also witnessed the first notable arrival of Fieldfares into the valley with these early arrivals favouring the berry laden hedges between our base at Bank Island and the car park at Wheldrake Ings. 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 when the berries have been consumed. 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 ‘traveller of the fields’. Birds will return to the valley when freezing conditions or snow covers the higher ground of the Wolds, and once again in March as they start to depart and head back to their breeding grounds. They are quite wary birds and often remain high up in trees – only coming down to feed more frequently in harsh weather when they can be forced into gardens to take advantage of fruit and other offerings. We don’t usually catch and ring many Fieldfares during the year as a result - but birds ringed by Chris Wright in his orchard at Thorganby have subsequently been recovered in France and the Czech Republic.