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

Wednesday 26 June 2019

10/06/19 - Sand Martin success

Recently, we posted that due to the help and support over the last few years via logs, cards, calendars and donations, the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley had been able to purchase and install two Sand Martin nesting banks at Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island. Once installation by John and his team from Green Future Building, our hard-working team of volunteers carefully filled all the nesting chambers and tunnels with sand - so that the Sand Martins could then move in and dig it all back out. We’re delighted to say it’s been an instant success, within days several individuals were busy excavating the holes at Bank Island, providing great entertainment for visitors in the adjacent hide to watch. 

At present, up to 24 holes have been excavated, and last week we were thrilled to find the first pairs are already incubating clutches, with others busy lining their nests. Several birds have also started to investigate the Wheldrake bank, hopefully visitors to the pool over the summer will be able to enjoy the comings and goings as the colony increases. 

This really has been a case of ‘build it and they will come’ – and in this case in just a couple of weeks. Many thanks to the Friends for their ongoing support and great work in helping deliver improvements to the reserve and adjacent area, and to everyone who has supported their work and our hard-working volunteers. Following on from the immediate success this year, we are hoping to install two more banks next year, including in front of the Geoff Smith Hide at North Duffield Carrs, however a lot of funds need to be raised beforehand. If you would like to help contribute you can do so via our Go Fund Me page (https://www.gofundme.com/conserving-the-lower-derwent-valley) – thank you.

Monday 17 June 2019

01/06/19 - Joint working with the EA

Over the course of the last two weeks, our fantastic and enthusiastic team of volunteers have once again been on their travels with us, this time heading up the River Derwent to a site near Yedingham, north-east of Malton. The Environment Agency, working with a sympathetic landowner and the Internal Drainage Board, have been working to ‘naturalise’ the straightened river. The flood banks have been lowered and breached, allowing a small area of previously arable land to become part of the floodplain once again with a series of scrapes, ponds and channels providing a range of habitats. Our task was to provide a range of wetland plants, sourced around the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, to help the colonisation of the site, and to provide another refuge for many of the rare and scarce species present on the reserve. 

The team were kept busy planting a range of species, including Water Dock and Greater Water Parsnip – the latter being confined to just the LDV and Hornsea Mere a few years ago. We have since managed to restore this nationally scarce and declining species to many of its traditional Yorkshire sites, and hopefully this will help secure it at yet another Yorkshire Derwent location. Many thanks to everyone involved - another great job by our fantastic team.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

29/05/19 - York Minster Peregrines

At the end of May several of our team had the privilege of accompanying Jean on her visit to York Minster, to ring and colour-ring the Peregrine chicks. To reach the chicks the team, lead by Minster staff, made their way up the 100+ steps inside of one of the towers, before carefully negotiating the roof top and numerous ledges. Following on from our visit last year where we ringed four large healthy chicks, on this occasion we were delighted to find another brood of four healthy chicks. The four chicks were all in really good condition, and going by the size of the individuals it was thought to be two males and two females, all roughly four weeks old. 

Each chick was BTO ringed and then fitted with a unique colour-ring, which will allow the local birders and visitors to the Minster to follow who’s who, as they fledge in the coming weeks, but also in the longer term as they move out to find breeding sites of their own. The ringing process went very swiftly, with the chicks soon back in the nest again, shortly followed by the adults – they’d been keeping a watchful eye on us from a nearby tower whilst the ringing was being undertaken. Many thanks to Jean for organising the visit which allows us to monitor these beautiful birds, and also to the staff from York Minster for allowing access to the nest and accompanying us up the tower. Fingers crossed all four chicks fledge safely this year – we had a few false starts and crash landings last year.

Monday 10 June 2019

20/05/19 - Reed planting

During the last two weeks our team of staff and volunteers have been busy planting reeds at Bank Island, with the aim of creating a reed bed in the new scrape. This project has been kindly funded by Betty’s and administered by Two Ridings Community Fund – in total £3900 has been given to the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley for reed bed and scrape creation work at the site. 

This work, alongside the installation of Sand Martin nesting banks is aiming to increase the biodiversity and conservation significance of the site, as well as increasing visitor and public enjoyment. We are also further indebted to the York Ornithological Club, for a grant for scrape and reed bed creation elsewhere within the Lower Derwent Valley – hopefully increasing populations of key reed bed bird species, as well as plants and invertebrates. With thanks to these kind grants and the hard work of our volunteers and students, we will hopefully be enjoying some really positive changes over the next few years – many thanks as always to everyone involved, and to our team for helping to plant some of the 2500 reeds!