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, regular readers may have noticed the increase in posts detailing wildlife found across the valley (ranging from plants, fungi, butterflies, dragonflies & other invertebrates). Ringing posts will hopefully resume over the winter months, and will run alongside wildlife and work posts.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

17/07/17 - One good tern

We are pleased to be able to report that the two young chicks that have been on the tern raft at Wheldrake Ings for the last three weeks have now successfully fledged - the first successful breeding for the Lower Derwent Valley NNR. On Monday we watched from the hide as the four birds, two adults, two young, flew around the pool together, occasionally catching small fish and returning to the raft and tern rails. 

It’s been fantastic to be able to enjoy these delightful birds and watch their antics from the hides with some of our regular visitors – the adults have done a great job of looking after their chicks, constantly mobbing and chasing away predators and bringing in a steady supply of small fish for the youngsters. The family party have also attracted several other Common Terns onto the pool with up to seven adults lingering over recent days – an encouraging sign for next year! It won’t be long before the terns head off to their wintering grounds in southern Africa, so if you haven't been down yet then it's well worth a visit at the moment - always plenty to see! 

Many thanks again to everyone involved in the kind donation of money to the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley, resulting in the purchase of the two new rafts from Green Future Building. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

09/07/17 - Little and large

Over the last two weeks we’ve started to see the first returning autumn passage waders appear in the valley, as they head south from their more northerly breeding grounds. Several Green Sandpipers (often the first to appear), have already been seen, whilst we were fortunate to come across two very confiding Little Ringed Plovers at Thornton Ellers earlier this week. These delightful little birds allowed us to approach and photograph them as they continued to feed unconcerned, seemingly oblivious to our presence. Whilst busy managing the reserve over the last few weeks, we have also been monitoring the water levels on Wheldrake Ings, trying to keep them at a low enough level in order to provide muddy margins to attract and benefit passage waders over the coming weeks – hopefully more of these charming little waders will soon follow.

It's been a great breeding season in the valley this year, with a whole host of species doing well and successfully raising young broods. One of the species which has enjoyed a productive season is our local Mute Swan population - with 10 pairs raising a total of 61 cygnets, including a bumper brood of eight at North Duffield Carrs. Catching and colour-ringing the young (as part of our long term project), will take place during late July/August – a task our volunteers are already looking forward to! The brood of three pictured below, were seen on Wheldrake Ings last week - they’re just a bit too small to ring at the moment (but growing quickly!).

Monday, 10 July 2017

07/07/17 - Blue, blue, electric blue

Last week whilst busy managing water levels at Wheldrake Ings, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to rescue this stunning Kingfisher. It appeared that the bird might have been lured into the chamber of the penstock (the water control structure), in search of fish, and seemed unable to find its way back out. Upon realising the unfortunate predicament and seeing it fly round in circles exhausting itself, occasionally dropping into the water, we knew we needed to act fast. Fortunately we acquired a net fairly quickly and managed reached down, soon bringing it out safely. Once out the bird seemed none the worse for its ordeal, and after a few quick photographs flew off at lightning speed, gone within the blink of an eye, which is the usual view as they zip past! What a truly beautiful bird, and a great feeling to see it fly off.


Friday, 7 July 2017

03/07/17 - Tern update

Instant success! We are pleased to be able to say that our new tern raft that was installed on the pool at Wheldrake Ings in early May, currently has a pair of Common Terns with two chicks. Many thanks to everyone involved in the kind donation, purchase and installation of the rafts, especially the team from Green Future Building, for the brilliant design with the high transparent sides – thus keeping it otter and mink proof. Upon news of the two chicks, we waded out to the raft the next day with a ‘shelter’ – a wooden structure that the chicks can hide under from predatory crows, the heat from the sun, or the heavy rain like that of recent days.

Common Terns appear on spring passage most years, and in recent years have bred on adjacent sites including Elvington Water Treatment works, Allerthorpe Lakeland Park, Raker Lakes and at the University of York Campus. However, this will represent the first successful breeding on the reserve, and will hopefully be the start of an increasing population, which is great news for the terns, as well for our visitors that are able enjoy them.

Friday, 30 June 2017

22/06/17 - Hobby release

Last month Jean received a call from Battleflatts Vets with news of an injured Hobby collected from a site in Withernsea on the East Coast. With the injury being a badly broken wing, it seemed that this beautiful bird was destined for certain death, however with both the expertise of Mark at Battleflatts Vets, and Jean, this bird was definitely in the right hands. After Mark did a great job of pinning and strapping the wing, Jean took over with her amazing care and specialist knowledge. With it being such a bad break, she, an adult female, was confined to a small box in order to let the wing start to heal. However, with the break dangerously close to the joint, it was important not to allow the wing to be strapped for too long as the repairing bone can then cause the joint to become immobile. 
 On the mend - c/o Leanne Hoeness-heather

By the second week of June the bandage came off and she was flying at a low height – things were starting to look promising! Fast forward another week and the hard work, skill and patience paid off on Tuesday morning when the bird was judged by Jean to be ready for release, having spent the last week exercising in a more spacious aviary. Following consultation with several specialists, she was released onto the NNR – the idea being that the valley would offer her plenty of easy feeding opportunities whilst she regained her strength and improved her flying. She’s already missed this year’s opportunity for breeding but at least she'll have plenty of time to continue to improve before heading off to Africa for the winter. 

 The last goodbye

Well done to Jean and Mark for their efforts, not only in saving this birds life, but for all they and what they manage to achieve.

Off she goes!