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 13 April 2021

08/04/21 - Sand Martins

We are pleased to be able to say that our first Sand Martins have returned to the Lower Derwent Valley NNR after their long spring migration. Wintering largely in the Sahel area of Africa, Sand Martins are one of the first summer migrants to appear from mid-March, and are highly gregarious, breeding in colonies where they excavate tunnels in sandy banks. Sadly, natural nesting colonies in riverbanks are prone to summer flooding, however, with thanks to your support via log sales, cards and calendar purchases, and kind donations, the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley have installed several Sand Martin nesting ‘hotels’ on the reserve over the last few years.

These, like the one at Bank Island pictured below (images from a previous year), will provide additional nesting locations and will also be less prone to be flooded out and safe from predators. Over the last couple of years this ‘hotel’ has proved popular with returning adults, and has resulted in over 140 chicks successfully fledging. We’ll be filling them with sand this week with the hope that this year’s cohort will soon move in, and then we'll turn our attentions to repairing the bank at Wheldrake Ings which became damaged during the winter floods.

Thursday 1 April 2021

25/03/21 - Migrating Scoters

Over the last week there has been a nocturnal movement of Common Scoters through the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, with late March/early April being the prime time to find the odd passage Scoter on the Ings as they move across country.

This flurry of records is thanks to noc-mig, which really took off last year when everyone was largely confined to their gardens, resulting in many local birdwatchers taking the opportunity to record nocturnal movements via sound recording, with many reporting a widespread movement of these largely sea-ducks moving in early April, no doubt being easier to hear than previously with reduced background noise resulting from the first complete lockdown. At least a couple of hundred birds were involved in the movement last year – compared to the one or two recorded annually over recent years (site records). It’s also not unusual for one to end up in Jean’s care – over the last few years we’ve had the privilege of handling a few of these lost or exhausted maritime ducks, after being been found in gardens or other unusual locations. After a night or two with Jean, they have all been safely released into the North Sea. 

It is thought that these flocks involve birds that had wintered in the Irish Sea, before moving inland over the Mersey and Wirral area, and onward across the Peak District to the Humber and Vale of York, then over to the North Sea off the Yorkshire Coast. Please do let us know if you venture out into your gardens after dark, and what you hear. The best times for Common Scoter (https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Melanitta-nigra) appear  to be between 2000hrs and 2230 hrs.