Recently, several of the team carried out the monthly WeBS count of the LDV’s waterfowl, as part of the national ‘Wetland Bird Survey’. These surveys have taken place on the reserve here since the 1960’s, and with the use of standard methodology, allow trends in wildfowl and wader populations to be studied, both at a site level and across the county.
Of the 25,500 birds counted in the Lower Derwent, it included a record breaking 871 Pintail - breaking the previous record of 823 set in January this year. Looking at previous years WeBS data, we can see that the ten year averages for winter peak counts, showed that numbers were typically in the range of 54-70 during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. Numbers then increased to an average of 186 during the 1990’s, and more dramatically to 468 during the 2000’s. Peak counts during the 2000’s passed 600 birds in four winter periods, with the largest count of that decade of 674 in 2007/08, being surpassed by a count of 716 ten years later in the 2017/18 winter period, before these two counts of 800+ more recently. It’s great to see the value of these long-term monitoring schemes, and to see Pintail, such a beautiful and eloquent duck (shown well below in the feather detail photographs), doing so well here. Many thanks to all our counters who have helped contribute to this data set over the years.