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 February 2020

18/02/20 - Heronies Census

Despite the recent stormy weather, many of our early nesters will be underway with breeding activity now, including our Grey Herons. Each year we monitor our local site contributing to the BTO Heronries Census, and have been doing so for the last 40 years. Our efforts, along with other volunteers, saw nearly 800 heronries visited across the UK in 2019, with the population estimate of 9,940 apparently occupied nests - representing a slight increase on the 2018 figure. Another mild winter like the one we’ve just had should further help the population. 

As well as the Heronries Census, each month we also undertake the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), with the February count showing an increase in Grey Herons - total of 36 returning birds were counted. Our latest WeBS survey also showed a total of 13 Little Egrets have already returned to the site, compared with a total of just 4 at the same time last year. Numbers will continue to increase throughout the year, so we may well be on course to break the first count of over 100 – with 85 recorded in mid-May last year. When visiting the site please do let us know about your sightings and keep an eye out of any colour-ringed birds thank you.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

14/02/20 - Gambia Tern

Whilst we're in the grip of this wintry and stormy weather, news has just filtered through of one of our Common Terns enjoying the warm sunshine of its wintering grounds – 5100km away in The Gambia in Western Africa. Following our first recovery last summer, when we heard that one of our chicks from 2018 had been seen and photographed in Merseyside, it is fantastic to now get our second recovery out of only 11 birds that have been colour-ringed since 2017 when the project began. The individual spotted in The Gambia was ringed on the Wheldrake Ings raft as a chick in July last year, from a brood of three - great to know it made it to its wintering grounds safely - here’s hoping it returns to the LDV in 2021 having spent its first summer off the African coast.

'Our' tern chick (8.87) on its wintering grounds in Africa

The Friends of the LDV purchased the first two rafts in 2017 thanks to a generous private donation, which resulted in a single pair nesting and raising two chicks to fledging. The following year, two pairs raised six young and last year, two pairs raised five young to fledging. All 13 chicks have been ringed, with 11 fitted with colour-rings in the hope of being able to follow them on their epic migrations.

With the project going well so far with just two rafts, we are delighted to reveal that this year we will have two extra rafts, which will be installed later in the spring when the floods will have hopefully receded. Many thanks to the Friends and those that have helped support them in being able to deliver these rafts, which have helped make a difference to these birds and the people who enjoy watching them around the world. If you would like to help support further work like this then please visit our Go Fund Me page – every little helps, thank you - https://www.gofundme.com/f/conserving-the-lower-derwent-valley.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

08/02/20 - Tree planting

The Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley have recently been successful in receiving another grant from The Tree Council, in order to improve the boundaries of part of the site by gapping up old traditional hedges. The generous grant of £1000 has allowed the purchase of over 1500 standard trees and hedging whips of a variety of species, including Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Guelder Rose, Hazel, Dogwood and Field Maple. The variety of species will ensure a wide range of nectar source is available throughout the spring and equally, fruit and nuts in the autumn – a welcome boost for a range of our local wildlife.

The Tree Council awards grants to help communities around the country to plant more trees, and to do something positive for their ‘treescape’ and this year following a national campaign, communities, organisations and businesses around the UK are taking the opportunity to do their bit to reduce UK carbon emissions, and improve their communities by planting trees. Many thanks to our team for their help with this project over the last few weeks, with many of the trees now planted at Thornton Ellers, North Duffield Carrs and Bank Island – and with more still to plant we’ll be teaming up with the pupils of Ad Astra next week to continue with the task.

Thursday 6 February 2020

03/02/20 - World Wetlands Day

Yesterday was World Wetlands Day, which occurs annually on February 2nd, and marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971 when environmentalists signed an international agreement at the Ramsar Convention in Iran. Since then Governments around the world have designated and protected over 2200 Ramsar sites, identifying them as wetlands of international importance.

Wetlands and biodiversity is the theme for 2020, celebrating that wetlands are rich in biodiversity and are a habitat for a great variety of plant and animal species. Whilst we might all be aware of the loss of global biodiversity, wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate, almost three times faster than forests, so we need action to reverse its loss. With thanks to your support, either by buying our logs, cards or calendars, booking us for talks and events, or making donations to the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley, the Friends have been able to safeguard a little bit more of our international wetland resource. Last week they completed the purchase of 6.6 acres of lowland wet grassland on North Duffield Carrs – one of the last blocks of land there still in private ownership. This land is now secured for nature conservation, so that future generations can enjoy the thousands of wintering birds, breeding birds, mammals, plants and invertebrates which use the site over the year. There is still more to be done though - the land purchase cost £20,000 and the Friends, who are now a registered charity, are keen to crowd fund in order to replace their land acquisition fund to help purchase more land. If you’d like to help then please follow the link below to their Go Fund me page - https://www.gofundme.com/f/conserving-the-lower-derwent-valley.

Celebrating World Wetlands Day helps recognise the importance wetlands play in providing and safeguarding biodiversity, as well as a host of other wide-ranging benefits (carbon storage, flood storage, food production and public enjoyment). The Lower Derwent Valley is protected by numerous international designations and is of international importance – our ringing studies over the last 30 years have so far linked the valley with 28 countries around the world, and we’ve recently heard about a few of our ringed birds giving a flavour of this international flyway:

A Wigeon ringed at Bank Island in February 2018 was recovered in the Lebyazhevskiy District of Russia in September last year – 4317km to the east of the valley, making it one of our furthest Wigeon so far - possibly on or near its breeding site.

Last year during the autumn influx of Redwing from Northern Europe over 60 individuals were caught in the NNR base garden during November. Most of the them cleared out of the area over Christmas and we wondered where they might have gone - by early January one individual had made it 1730km to the south and into Portugal – a distance covered in just 53 days.

We’ve also recently heard about a Reed Warbler caught last summer at Wheldrake Ings with a Portuguese ring - it was ringed in August 2018 at Paul do Taipal, Coimbra as a juvenile. Many thanks to our team of volunteers who spend many an hour collecting data and then submitting it to the BTO and WWT.