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

Thursday 22 August 2019

20/08/19 - Seed harvesting

Whilst the local farmers have been busy cutting hay, our team have been hard at work harvesting some of our valuable MG4 grassland seed, which will go towards helping to recreate similar hay meadows elsewhere. In previous years this seed has been supplied to the RSPB, Environment Agency, Albanwise and Leven Carrs, as well as several other private landowners and farmers.

After several years of this project it's great to hear some positive feedback recently from our work – some of the first sites that were seeded are already showing an establishment and an increase in herb and grass diversity, including some which were arable fields just a few years ago. This year some of our seed will be transported to the Dearne Valley and the Garganey Trust’s great work at Broomhill Flash, where they are hoping to create nearly 15 ha of hay meadows on the site. Many thanks to our great team of staff and volunteers who have helped harvest over 12 ha of seed over the last few weeks.


Monday 19 August 2019

15/08/19 - Garganey

The Lower Derwent valley has long been known as an important site for breeding Garganey – a migratory duck which comes to the UK for the summer to breed, before returning to its wintering grounds in Africa. Not only is the LDV important for numbers of this rare breeding duck, but also in some years it can often provide birders one of the best chances to have a close encounter with this beautiful species. This year has been good on both counts – with up to seven drakes and four females showing well throughout the spring and summer, with almost daily sightings coming from Bank Island, Wheldrake and North Duffield Carrs early in the season. We know that four pairs have been successful in rearing 21 young this year – and we’ve even managed to catch and colour-ring one of those, a young male. 

This is actually the first Garganey to be ringed in the UK since 2012 (when we last ringed one here), so we’re hoping that an eagle-eyed birder may spot it on passage somewhere. If you haven’t seen a Garganey yet this year you haven’t got long left – they often leave in August, however at the moment one is still present on the pool at Wheldrake.

Monday 12 August 2019

02/08/19 - Hawk Eye

Each year whilst carrying out our bird ringing and monitoring of small bird populations around the NNR, we are usually lucky enough to catch one or two Sparrowhawks. It’s always a privilege to see these magnificent aerial hunters up close, as well as an opportunity to study their movements and collect data. Recently whilst catching Reed Buntings coming out of their overnight roost we found one in our net, keeping the buntings company - it’s likely we were there for the same reason... 

The Sparrowhawk was a second-year male – moulting from its juvenile brown plumage and acquiring its fresh new grey adult feathers - good to know it survived that all important first hard winter. We have had a few recoveries of local Sparrowhawks, including one ringed in October 1977 in Dumfries and Galloway - found in Wheldrake in February the following year – a distance of 203km. It’s certainly been a good breeding season for many of our small passerine birds, so it’s safe to say that our Sparrowhawks will no doubt be enjoying a good year too with plenty of prey available.