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.

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June 23

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - June Sightings

June was a rather exciting month marked by the appearance of several notable species, alongside a productive season for our breeding birds. The month started with a Squacco Heron at Bank Island on the 1st before it relocated to North Duffield Carrs until late on the 2nd - representing the first record for the reserve and wider York area. An adult Purple Heron then flew over Bank Island on the 13th and was seen again when it headed south over Wheldrake Ings towards East Cottingwith. The following day on the 14th, a male Red-backed Shrike was found at Church Bridge, Melbourne, before a Black Kite was discovered in the Bank Island and Elvington area (between 20th and 22nd).

Squacco Heron - North Duffield Carrs - 01/06 - DB

At least three pairs of Garganey remained with one brood of nine appearing at Bank Island. It appeared to have been a good month for breeding waterfowl, with numerous Gadwall and Shoveler broods seen across the reserve, however, there was no sign of the female Mandarin after the first week. Three pairs of Egyptian Geese are known to have reared at least 17 young, in addition to a further pair known to have attempted breeding. 32 pairs of Little Egrets were recorded in the heronry, with the first fledged young appearing on the 25th, with 14 on the pool at Wheldrake a few days later on the 30th. Up to seven pairs of Red Kites were noted across the area, with six pairs of Hobbies, lingering Marsh Harriers and the occasional Peregrine. Up to 12 Quail were also recorded during the month albeit less vocal than usual. Breeding waders appeared to also have a productive season, with two pairs of Little Ringed Plovers present in the wider area. The last late Greenshank headed north on the1st before the first returning Green Sandpipers arrived at Bank Island from the 13th. Common Terns bred again on the pool at Wheldrake, with three young fledged successfully – the presence of which seemed to pull in passage birds late in the month.

View from Pool Hide at dusk - 21/06 - DB

Additional highlights were another two Raven’s over Bank Island, 7 Grasshopper Warblers, 3 Cetti’s Warblers and 13 singing Corn Buntings scattered across the site.

Many thanks as always to everyone who submitted records and counts throughout the month, in particular to members of York Birding and regular patch birder Duncan Bye. Thanks also to Duncan Bye, Gerry Capelin, George Day, Adam Firth and Mary Fish for the use of their images below.



Mute Swan – Numerous family parties remain following a productive breeding season.

Mute Swan brood - Wheldrake Ings - 03/06 - DB

Egyptian Goose – A brood of three remained at East Cottingwith throughout the month, with eight large young appearing at Wheldrake Ings from the 11th and remaining to month. A brood of six were also present in the Elvington area with a pair also seen using a tree hole near Thornton Ellers during the month.

Shelduck – Thirteen were at Evington Water Treatment Works on the 11th (four pairs with five young).

Wigeon – A pair were at Bank Island on the 1st with two drakes and a duck at Wheldrake Ings during the month. Two pairs were also present at North Duffield Carrs.

Teal – Broods of six and three were recorded at North Duffield Carrs with 11 at Thornton Ellers. Up to 50 pairs were still present early in the month.

Garganey – A single pair were at Bank Island on the 1st and were still present there on the 11th, with a pair also seen during the first half of the month at Thornton Ellers and Wheldrake Ings. Three individuals (a drake and two ducks), were at Bank Island on the 17th, with up to three ducks present at this site later in the month. A female appeared at Bank Island with at least nine well grown ducklings on the 19th with eight remaining at month end (with just the one pair being successful at this site with the earlier pair presumed to have failed).

Gadwall – Up to 112 pairs were present throughout the month with good breeding success. At least eight broods (52 ducklings) were recorded at Bank Island, with seven broods (49 ducklings) at Thornton Ellers and nine broods (83 ducklings) at North Duffield Carrs. Seven broods (43 ducklings) were on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 29th with other scattered pairs and broods elsewhere on the ditch network throughout the site.

Gadwall brood - Wheldrake Ings - 14/06 - DB

Mandarin – The female was present in the Wheldrake/Bank Island area again on the 3rd.

Shoveler – Another great breeding season with an estimated 92 pairs across the site. 11 broods (93 ducklings) were recorded at North Duffield Carrs with five broods (36 ducklings) at Bank Island and seven broods (48 ducklings) at Wheldrake Ings. Two broods (19 ducklings) were also at Thornton Ellers.

Little Egret – 32 pairs nested in the local heronry with the first fledged juvenile seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 25th, followed by five there on the 28th. Numbers continued to build on the pool at Wheldrake with 14 there on the 30th.

Great White Egret – Singles were at Bank Island and North Duffield Carrs on the 1st with birds at Bank Island again and Wheldrake on the 3rd, with two remaining on the reserve thereafter until the 19th.

Great White Egret - Wheldrake Ings - 03/06 - DB

Grey Heron – Unfledged young remained in the heronry throughout the month with good numbers of young birds present around the site.

Purple Heron – A single adult flew over Bank Island on the 13th appearing to land at Wheldrake Ings. It was then later seen heading south over Swantail Hide and once again when it landed at the back of Wheldrake Ings near East Cottingwith (CSR, NC, DS).

Squacco Heron – A single was found at Bank Island in the morning on the 1st before relocating to North Duffield Carrs in the afternoon (where it remained to dusk and again throughout the 2nd) - first record for the valley (MR et al).

Great Crested Grebe – Two were at Elvington Water Treatment Works on the 11th.

Marsh Harrier – One or two adult females lingered throughout the month with an adult male present from the 11th to month end.

Marsh Harrier - Wheldrake Ings - 10/06 - DB

Red Kite – Regularly seen throughout the area with an estimated seven pairs around the reserve (brood of two ringed on the 23rd).

Black Kite – A single was found in fields at Elvington on the 21st (AF et al) and was present again there and at Bank Island on the 22nd - representing the fourth record for the reserve. 

Black Kite - Elvington - 21/06 - DB

Hobby – Up to six pairs were present throughout the area but fewer sightings were had during the month as individuals became more secretive whilst breeding.

Water Rail – Single recorded overnight in Elvington on the 25th.

Quail – Singles were present at Ellerton on the 1st and 2nd and thereafter, with up to three at East Cottingwith Ings from the 2nd. Singles were heard at Bubwith Ings and near Barmby Moor on the 7th and 8th, followed by individuals at Wheldrake on the 9th, Bank Island on the 11th and one between Bubwith and Aughton on the 14th. Two ‘new’ birds arrived at Wheldrake on the 28th with one at Thorganby Ings on the 30th.

Little Ringed Plover – A single brood of three were ringed at Escrick on the 1st, having nested on a flooded Rolawn field (thanks to Escrick Park Estate and Rolawn for delaying operations on this field to safeguard these breeding birds). A single flew over Elvington at night on the 15th whilst a brood of three were ringed on gravel pits to the south of the reserve on the 16th.

Little Ringed Plover - Escrick - 01/06 - GD

Lapwing – Numbers of broods continued to appear during the month with five seen at North Duffield Carrs and four (12 young) at Bank Island. Post breeding birds started to build up during the month with 60 at Bank Island and 50 at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th. 150 were at Bank Island on the 26th to month end.

Woodcock – Up to seven roding males were present at Skipwith Common NNR with four or five males at Allerthorpe Common.

Curlew – 14 were at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th with up to 22 at North Duffield Carrs from the 12th and 11 at Bank Island on the 22nd. Small numbers were noted moving over the reserve towards month end – non or failed breeders from elsewhere perhaps.

Redshank – Two pairs were found incubating clutches at East Cottingwith Ings on the 1st with a single pair at Aughton on the 2nd. Up to three pairs were at Bank Island with four or five pairs at Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs. A brood of three large young were at Bank Island from the 21st.

Greenshank – Two remained from the previous month with both seen again at Thornton Ellers on the 1st.

Green Sandpiper – Two returned to Bank Island on the 13th with one or two between Bank Island and Wheldrake daily thereafter to month end. A single was recorded (via noc-mig) over Elvington on the night of the 25th/26th.

Common Tern – A brood of three chicks hatched on the Wheldrake Ings raft (ringed and colour-ringed on the 13th) before fledging on the 24th. An additional adult was attracted in by the family party on the 25th with four ‘new in’ adults present there between the 26th - 28th.

Barn Owl – Seen regularly throughout the month in particular at Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island.

Barn Owl - Lower Derwent - 29/06 - GC

Cuckoo – Singles were at East Cottingwith on the 1st, North Duffield village on the 2nd and 7th, Foggathorpe on the 10th and Seaton Ross on the 12th. Birds were heard regularly until the 21st with individuals far less vocal thereafter. Up to two males and two females remained at Melbourne Ings to month end. At total of 26 calling birds were located throughout the season to date.

Cuckoo - Wheldrake Ings - 11/06 - DB

Nightjar – A single was heard calling, but not churring, on Skipwith Common NNR on the 5th and 8th, with two churring males on Allerthorpe Common from the 2nd to at least the 12th.

Tree Pipit Up to four singing males were at Skipwith Common NNR during the month with one at Allerthorpe Common on the 8th.

Red-backed Shrike – A male was present near Church Bridge early on the 14th (MH et al).

Red-backed Shrike - Melbourne - 15/06 - MF

Raven – Two flew over Bank Island on the 22nd heading towards Elvington.

Nuthatch – A juvenile was being fed by adults at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th.

Common Whitethroat – Large numbers of fledged broods started to appear from the 9th.

Garden Warbler – The first fledged young were noted at Wheldrake Ings on the 10th.

Grasshopper Warbler – Up to three remained in the Melbourne area throughout the month with another continuing to reel at Bank Island. A single was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 11th/12th with another at Ellerton on the 13th. A further bird was reeling at Wheldrake Ings/East Cottingwith canal area on the 28th.

Spotted Flycatcher – Birds remained in the Melbourne Arm area of the Pocklington Canal where a single pair were once again incubating in an artificial swallow nest cup by mid-month. Three pairs were located on Skipwith Common NNR with two pairs in the nearby village and two pairs near Thorganby.

Cetti’s Warbler – At least two singing males remained at Wheldrake Ings throughout the month with another at Melbourne Ings around Church Bridge.

Cetti's Warbler - Wheldrake Ings - 14/06 - AF

Corn Bunting – Two singing males were at Wheldrake Ings on the 14th to month end. Up to three singing males were at East Cottingwith Ings throughout the month, with three at Ellerton Ings, two at Bubwith Ings and three at North Duffield Ings.

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