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

Tuesday 23 June 2020

14/06/20 - Quail influx

The Ings meadows in the Lower Derwent Valley are important for many bird species, such as Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings, as well as our breeding waders - Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank and Snipe, as well as our small Corncrake population. However, each year the Ings flower-rich meadows are also a summer time home to a small but variable number of Quail, rarely seen, and often given away by their distinctive ‘wet my lips’ call coming from areas of dense grass and herbs.

Quail are a migratory species of gamebird, travelling as far south as Africa for the winter, then returning to the UK to breed from late spring. Three individuals were heard during the last week of May whilst a further influx of birds have seen numbers increase to 15 calling birds since the beginning of June. Others may continue to arrive throughout June and late July - these later birds may have attempted breeding in southern Europe, before having a second attempt here. Most years around 100-300 calling males are recorded throughout the UK, although national influxes can result in much larger numbers in the country, and such influxes are often mirrored in the Lower Derwent Valley - this year would appear to represent an influx year nationally, so we are expecting more across the site in the coming weeks. A staggering 91 singing males were present in the LDV back in 1997, followed by 70 in 2000, more typically 5 – 15 males are located each year. When visiting the site please let us know if you are fortunate to come across any singing birds, thank you.

Friday 12 June 2020

08/06/20 - York Minster Peregrines

Since 2018 we’ve been fortunate to accompany Jean on her visit to York Minster to ring the Peregrine brood that nest on there each year, with four chicks ringed in both 18/19. Due to Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements, we weren’t expecting to be able to visit the site this spring, however, last week Jean received a phone call to say that one of the chicks had fledged prematurely. After being found down on the ground, the young male was swiftly recovered by Minster staff and checked over by Jean, and after being deemed fit and ready to return to the nest, Jean fitted a metal and colour-ring, and sent it on its way back up the tower to its calling parents.

Later in the week its siblings, two young females, repeated the same ‘false start’ and were quickly gathered up. Jean was on hand once again to help, checking both birds over, before ringing and returning them to the top of the Minster - many thanks to Jean and Steve, and everyone at the Minster for their help in ensuring the birds safe return, and for sharing their photographs with us.

Wednesday 3 June 2020

01/06/20 - Surveys

Although the lockdown has been lifted slightly, Natural England NNR staff are yet to return to normal working practices in the Lower Derwent Valley, whilst our regular volunteering activities and monitoring/surveys continue to be suspended. However, some of our volunteers have been busy carrying out individual surveys of the Pocklington Canal since the restrictions were lifted slightly. A complete breeding bird survey was first carried out along the Pocklington Canal in 1990, with a repeat survey undertaken last year - this year’s data will also add to our ability to compare the changes in bird numbers in the area over that 30-year period. Some species like Little Egrets and Cetti’s Warblers have appeared as new recent colonists, whilst others, such as Turtle Doves, have unfortunately all but disappeared now. The area still remains a stronghold for Cuckoos and Willow Tits, with good populations of both Reed and Sedge Warblers also present. Many thanks to our team for their solo efforts in helping us to continue gathering data during this time.