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 29 January 2020

25/01/20 - Moth records

It's that time when we have been busy compiling last year’s records and submitting them to the various county and national recording schemes. We’ve recently just finished inputting our moth recording data – no mean feat with 12,661 moths recorded of 250 species over 92 trapping nights during 2019.  

It’s always interesting to see what new and unusual species have occurred, last year a rather stunning Privet Hawk-moth was the first record for the reserve - caught at Bank Island on the 11th July. 

Another highlight was our fourth Archers Dart at Bank Island on the 28th June, following one in 1993 and two in 1995 – this species has a mainly coastal distribution around Britain, but can also occur inland on dry sandy heaths or breckland, such as those found in the Thornton Ellers area. Other species which have notable strongholds in the Lower Derwent Valley area include Oblique Carpet, a damp grassland species, with 27 caught between 29th May and 29th August, and Cream-boarded Green Pea which was recorded on four occasions. Six Oak Eggar were notable, whilst Beautiful Hook-tip continue to increase, with 39 recorded during the year including a high count of 13 on the 11th July. 

Our peak count of moths reached around 800 during some nights in August, of which 300 Large Yellow Underwings comprised a significant proportion of the catch. Many thanks to all of our volunteers who helped us identify, count and release our catches throughout the year.

Monday 27 January 2020

20/01/20 - Wintering Chiffchaffs

Whilst many of our summer migrants and warblers are enjoying warmer winter climates further south, over the last few weeks up to five Chiffchaffs have been enjoying the unseasonably mild conditions in and around the NNR base garden at Bank Island. 

We’ve enjoyed having some great views of the birds through the office windows, whilst they have been working their way across the building, windows and picnic tables - picking off flies and other insects, and they also provided many of the bird race teams a useful bonus species. It won’t be long now until the first returning migrants start to appear though, as they announce their arrival with their characteristic and repetitive chiff-chaff song from mid-March. Please do let us know if you come across any wintering birds in the area, and we’d be delighted to hear about those first spring records in around eight weeks’ time. As well as the Chiffchaffs, there are plenty of other birds to be seen at the NNR base at the moment, with flocks of Tree Sparrows, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and various tits all present at the feeders. Many thanks to local wildlife photographer Terry Weston for sharing his super image with us. 

Wednesday 22 January 2020

17/01/20 - Bewick's Swan 702

During the 1960’s and 70’s, herds of up to 250-300 Bewick’s Swans were regular in the valley during the winter months. Numbers then started to decline through the 1980’s and 90’s, to around 30 birds each winter, yet now we're down to just one lone pair which have been returning to the valley since 2009. The female (702) was ringed as a first year on the wintering grounds in the Netherlands in November 2007, and has wintered in the valley each year since 2009, except the 2011/12 winter when she and her partner remained in Denmark. 

The Bewick's Swan population seems to be struggling on the Russian breeding grounds with low productivity, and with warmer winter conditions across Europe, many birds are now wintering there rather than continuing another 400 kilometres to the UK. Since returning once again at the end of December, the two Bewick's have been moving between the flooded Ings at Ellerton and Bubwith, but largely keeping their distance from the 180+ Icelandic Whooper Swans wintering in the same area. Bewick’s Swans are slightly smaller and more delicate than Whoopers, and have less yellow on their bill (not extending below their nostrils). When visiting the reserve please let us know if you're lucky enough to spot these two scarce winter visitors.

Monday 13 January 2020

11/01/20 - New year, new projects

After a well-earned Christmas break, our hardworking and dedicated band of volunteers returned to the LDV last week, to continue delivering some of the grants the Friends have been successful in securing recently. These include grants from the Spaldington Community Windfarm Benefit Fund, and the East Riding of Yorkshire Councils Year of Green Action Fund, both of which have helped sponsor our winter farmland bird feeding stations, as well as providing timber to make Tree Sparrow nest boxes. 

With over 70 boxes made before Christmas, last week we spent time with our volunteers putting up the first 30 at Thornton Ellers – a key site for Tree Sparrows. We’re looking forward to monitoring these boxes in the spring and summer, which will hopefully help to boost our local population. Whilst there we also started our tree and hedge planting project - this will improve the edges of the reserve for a host of wildlife with a range of tree species planted, which will provide various nectar, fruit and nut resources. Many thanks as always to our team for their efforts.