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 27 August 2020

18/08/20 - Kestrels/Buzzard expansion

Whilst our Barn Owls appear to have had a year off from breeding - linked to a fall in small mammal populations, Kestrels on the other hand appear to have done quite well. Brood sizes have been around average in the nests that we have monitored this year, and as usual, good numbers (mainly newly fledged young), have been present throughout the site - feeding amongst the hay cutting operations and using hay bales as vantage points from which to look out for small mammals, frogs, beetles and worms. This individual was photographed whilst it hunted successfully at North Duffield Carrs – one of six present in the same field. It’s a great time of year to watch birds of prey from the hides, with plenty of Buzzards and Marsh Harriers around, with Hobbies also appearing later in the evening as the Swallows gather to feed and roost on the Ings.

It’s hard to believe that even 20 years ago a sighting of a Buzzard on the Ings would have been largely unheard of and a notable record – such is the rapid range expansion and population increase that this species has undergone. A total of 12 individuals were present on or viewable from the Carrs on this day. As always when visiting the reserve please share your records with us by using the hide log books or via our social media pages, thank you.

Thursday 20 August 2020

12/08/20 - Autumn passage

With autumn passage now underway throughout the Lower Derwent Valley, mid-August is prime time to encounter small groups of Whinchats, Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails as they appear on and around the reserve. In the case of Whinchats and Wheatears, these individuals will be birds that have bred further north in the English Uplands - now heading south to their wintering grounds in Africa. North Duffield Carrs and Swantail Ings at Wheldrake are the favoured locations, with smaller numbers appearing elsewhere around the reserve. 

Yellow Wagtails appear to have had a good breeding season around the reserve this year, with up to 40 roosting in the reed bed at Wheldrake Ings, along with smaller numbers present around the site during the day. All the above species will be around until mid-September, before we eagerly await their return again in late March and early April next year. When visiting the reserve please do let us know what you see by using the log books provided, or via social media.

Over all it’s been a mixed year for our summer migrants, with Sedge Warblers in particular seeming to not have fared well, despite the large numbers of singing adults earlier in the spring. We certainly haven’t seen or ringed many young as of yet, but it does show the value of our long-term monitoring programmes in tracking the annual fortunes of our breeding birds. On the other hand, Whitethroats seem to have fared better, with numerous family parties observed throughout the site during the summer, like this recently fledged juvenile photographed by Duncan Bye at Bank Island. We are now also seeing passage Whitethroats moving through the site – birds which have bred further north starting their southerly migrations onwards to the African wintering grounds.

Friday 14 August 2020

07/08/20 - Work on the NNR resumes

It has been a strange time on the reserve during lockdown restrictions, however we are now slowly re-starting our volunteering opportunities – all carefully risk assessed and modified to take into account social distancing measures. Over the last few weeks the Friends have also been helping out with the volunteers, either working alone or in small groups to deliver some of our ongoing work for a range of partners. This work has included seed harvesting, bracken spraying, Himalayan Balsam pulling and strimming, as well as helping out the local community by cutting and raking the churchyard in Ellerton and the Orchard in Thorganby for Carstairs Countryside Trust. Many thanks to everyone for their help and understanding during these difficult times, and for their support in working in these new and different ways.

Seed harvesting

Himalayan Balsam pulling

Cutting the churchyard in Ellerton

Raking and cutting the Orchard in Thorganby