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.

Monday, 16 October 2017

11/10/17 - Redwing return

Over the last few days we’ve seen, and heard, the arrival of the first of our winter thrushes, with Redwings being the first to appear, arriving in small numbers from Scandinavia. Their high pitched calls can be heard overhead during the hours of darkness as they migrate westwards, and tired and hungry flocks can often be seen chattering as they search hedgerows for berry laden bushes on which they feed. There are only a small number of birds around at the moment, but as the weather turns colder and the supply of fruit and berries becomes depleted, larger numbers will return once again to the Ings to feed on the edge of the damp meadows, taking advantage of the high numbers of earthworms and other invertebrate prey. They will then return to their breeding grounds further east from mid-March so there is plenty of time yet to see them - as always when visiting the NNR please leave any records in the log books provided, thank you. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

09/10/17 - Beardies & Greys

At the weekend two Bearded Tits were seen going into roost at Wheldrake Ings – the first sighting there this autumn. Bearded Tits are resident in the UK throughout the year and disperse from their breeding sites during the autumn, sometimes undertaking regular ‘eruptions’ - these are marked by flocks of birds rising out of their breeding reed beds and taking high, towering flights with lots of excited calling, small groups then peel off and disperse. It is these birds that can turn up at this time of year away from their usual haunts, making it a good time to look out for them in suitable habitat within our area. Over the next month areas with reed beds or reed fringes are worth checking for these amazing little birds, often noticed first by their distinctive ‘pinging’ calls, the small reed beds at Wheldrake Ings have been a local ‘hotspot’ in previous years. Many thanks to local birder Duncan Bye for sending in his super photograph of a stunning male taken at Wheldrake Ings this time last year.

It has also been pleasing to see an increase in the numbers of Grey Partridge around the valley this year, last month two large groups (coveys) were recorded, with 19 present at Melbourne Ings on the 10th and a covey of eight (presumably a family party), on Bubwith Ings on the 16th. Sadly Grey Partridge have undergone a dramatic decline in the UK over the last 30 years, in line with many other farmland bird species. Changing land management practices, intensification and speed of management operations have perhaps contributed to such declines, and possibly the competition from the vast numbers of Red-legged Partridges that are released each year for shooting. Small numbers of Greys remain around the LDV with pockets of populations in Thornton, Thorganby, Storwood and North Duffield - the recent increase in sightings is a welcome change of fortune for the species locally.

Monday, 9 October 2017

05/10/17 - Recoveries

Migration is very much in evidence in the LDV at present as the first of the incoming winter visitors start to arrive. Our ringing studies have already shown a link between the valley and 25 other countries as well as information on movements within the UK. Recent recoveries include a young Reed Warbler that was ringed at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th August, moving 381 Km to the south to Fleet, Dorset in just 11 days on the first leg of its migration. A Lesser Redpoll ringed near Melbourne in November 2015 was re-trapped by ringers in Scotland, at Carluke, South Lanarkshire, 277 Km to the north just a couple of weeks ago. 

We’ve also just heard that one of the Herring Gulls colour-ringed at the local landfill site in February this year, was re-sighted off a trawler in the Barents Sea, Arctic Ocean, 2500 Km away, showing that our ‘local’ birds aren’t quite as local as we might think. 

We’ve been fortunate over the last 20 years to ring 40 Ruff, the results of which have revealed much about their complex lifestyles and movements, and this week we received another such movement. An adult male, ringed in January 2015 as part of the resident wintering population at North Duffield Carrs, was unfortunately found dead on the breeding grounds at Tranøya, Senja, Tranøy, Troms, Norway, 1950 Km to the north-east of the valley. This is the eighth international exchange we’ve recorded, and our second movement between Norway, with a single bird from Sweden and five exchanges between the Netherlands also recorded, showing just how international our ‘local’ birds are. Up to 27 individuals are back in the valley now with numbers often peaking around January and February with over 100 birds.

Please let us know if you come across any colour-ringed birds in the valley on here or by leaving sightings in the hide log books provided, thank you.

Monday, 2 October 2017

01/10/17 - Lloyds get stuck in

Last week we were pleased to welcome a team from Lloyds Bank to the reserve for a day of their corporate volunteering time – and on a day which felt more like the middle of summer! With so many extra pairs of hands, along with our small team of volunteers, we split into small groups and tackled various jobs. Firstly undertaking some replacement fencing at Bank Island, to help maintain a stock proof perimeter to allow grazing to take place across the site. Other members of the team enjoyed sawing and loppering willow scrub on Wheldrake Ings to help out the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - now allowing local birders to see properly from Tower Hide. Whilst a third team spent time collecting timber for the winter log supply – all in all a fun and very productive day - many thanks to everyone involved. 

Friday, 29 September 2017

26/09/17 - 2018 LDV Calendar

Hot off the press! The new 2018 LDV calendar is now available at £6.99 – available from the NNR base or can be posted (no extra cost). As per the last two years, this calendar has been produced by the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley (FoLDV), with proceeds from the sales going towards conservation projects across the reserve. With thanks to the sales from the previous year’s calendars, along with log and card sales, and a kind donation, two new tern rafts were purchased earlier in the year from Green Future Building, in time for the breeding season. Only a day after being in situ, a pair of Common Terns had already found them, checking out both the one at Bank Island and the one on the pool at Wheldrake, before choosing the latter. The pair went on to raise two chicks, whilst a second pair also laid eggs – encouraging signs for colonisation of the site. Many thanks to everyone who has supported the ‘Friends’ and helped make this possible through generous donations. Please get in touch with us on here or via our Facebook page if you'd like to purchase one - thank you.