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.

May '17

Lower Derwent Valley NNR - May Sightings

May is always a busy month, with spring passage overlapping the main breeding period for many species. The largely dry, and at times warm conditions seem to have helped produce a rather productive breeding season, although the birding highlights were dominated by a rather large and rather striking wanderer. The month opened with a Spoonbill at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd, (presumably the same individual seen at the end of April), whilst up to 21 Little Egrets and 30+ Grey Herons remained, and no doubt helped in attracting yet another two Great White Egrets present between the 25th and 28th. Two Common Cranes re-appeared between the 17th and 21st, and a White Stork flew north between Wheldrake and Elvington on the 22nd – the first for several  years.
Nine pairs of Mute Swans hatched a total of 59 cygnets, whilst up to 110 Greylag goslings were recorded in the valley, although many more were present in the wider local area, along with an increasing population of five pairs of Egyptian Geese. Late northward bound birds included a Barnacle Goose on the 4th and Pink-footed Goose on the 10th.  

It was alo an excellent breeding season for our local breeding waders with both good numbers and breeding success recorded for Lapwing, Curlew, Snipe and Redshank. Passage waders included four Avocet on the 3rd, an impressive movement of ‘tundra’ Ringed Plovers with peaks of 18 at Thornton Ellers on the 14th and seven on the 30/31st, along with a Sanderling on the 5th, two Wood Sandpipers and a summer plumaged Spotted Redshank between the 8th-10th. Greenshank where recorded almost daily with a max of five on the 5th, while the nationally important Whimbrel spring passage roost peaked at 88 on the 1st in a rather late and protracted passage, with the last bird seen on the 23rd.

Among the five different Marsh Harriers present, a lingering pair gives hope of some eventual breeding success, whilst several Red Kites were noted along with good numbers of Hobbies almost daily around the valley. Other highlights included up to four singing male Corncrake, three Quail and encouragingly, three pairs of Grey Partridge on the Ings during the month. A Long-eared Owl at Wheldrake Ings hopefully indicates local breeding whilst a single Turtle Dove was still present in the former stronghold around Foggathorpe on the 14th. Up to 10 Common Terns lingered with a single pair incubating from mid month on one of the new rafts. One or two ‘Greenland’ Wheatears trickled through the site on passage, whilst a Nuthatch carrying food in the Wheldrake car park area once again confirms local breeding. 21 singing Corn Buntings on the Ings continues the recent pattern of birds moving onto the reserves meadows.

Butterfly and dragonfly sightings increased as the weather improved, with the end of the month seeing an influx of Red Admiral and the first Painted Lady of the year on the 31st, which also brought a Hummingbird Hawk-moth to the NNR base garden (for the fourth year out of the last five). Other first’s for the year included Small Copper on the 22nd, Common Blue on the 23rd and Wall on the 25th

Many thanks as always to the local valley birders, in particular members of the YOC for the submission of records throughout the month, and extra thanks to Duncan Bye (DB) for the use of photographs.


BIRDS: 

Mute Swan – Up to 60 non-breeding birds remained throughout the month with 47 at Wheldrake Ings on the 15th being the largest concentration. Three pairs were nesting at North Duffield Carrs (cluches of 8, 6 and 7), while the first brood of eight appeared there on the 14th. A pair with a large brood of 10 were seen near Melbourne on the 17th, while two broods of six hatched at Wheldrake on the 22nd. In total, 9 pairs bred in the valley producing a total of 59 cygnets. 

Greylag Goose – A full count of Wheldrake on the 1st included 167 adults and several broods totalling 43 goslings. 17 adults were also present at North Duffield Carrs on the same date. Three pairs with 21 goslings were present at Aughton on the 11th while at month end 34 adults and 89 goslings were present at Wheldrake Ings, with scattered pairs and broods in the wider area. The goose round up on the 31st resuled in 36 caught and ringed (28 goslings) - all fitted with white darvic’s consisting of three black numbers/letters. 

Pink-footed Goose – A single was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 10th. 

Pink-footed Goose - North Duffield - 10/05 - CR

Canada Goose – Scarce as usual during the breeding season with more pairs and broods on farm ponds in the wider area. Six pairs produced 13 goslings at Wheldrake Ings. 

Barnacle Goose – A single was present at Wheldrake on the 4th. 

Egyptian Goose – A single bird was noted at Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 8th and again on the 13th with a pair regularly there from then on to month end. Elsewhere, the usual breeding pair were present on a small farm pond at East Cottingwith, and a full survey of this area revealed five breeding pairs on scattered ponds in the vincity towards the end of the month. 

Shelduck – 32 were recorded at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st with 31 at Thornton Ellers and 11 at Wheldrake Ings – a total of 87 present throughout the site. Sample counts thereafter include 32 at North Duffield Carrs and 19 at Thornton Ellers on the 5th. 

Wigeon – 56 were still present at Wheldrake on the 1st when four pairs were at North Duffield Carrs along with three at Bank Island. 40 were at Wheldrake on the 6th including c10 pairs. On the 13th five were still at Wheldrake when a total of 11 pairs were present throughout the valley. Birds became increasingly difficult to see thereafter with seven drakes   seen at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th.  

Teal – Counts of 170+ at Wheldrake Ings, 78 at North Duffield Carrs, 31 at Bank Island and 30 at Thornton Ellers were had on the 1st – a total of 328 present throughout the site. 37 were at Thornton Ellers on the 5th with 200 at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th, on the same date 40+ were still present at North Duffield Carrs. Up to 80 remained thereafter in pairs and small scattered groups. 

Pintail – A single pair were still present at Wheldrake on the 1st and again on the 21st. 

Garganey – A single drake at Wheldrake on the 2nd was followed by a female at Thornton Ellers on the 15th and a pair at Bank Island on the 29th. 

Mallard – Good numbers present throughout the site with small numbers of broods appearing during the month. 

Mallard pair - Wheldrake - 11/05 - CR

Gadwall – Large numbers (c90 pairs) were present throughout the site with eight pairs at Thornton Ellers on the 5th. The first brood, of 11, were recorded at North Duffield Carrs on the 20th with another of 8 at Sutton-on-Derwent on the 22nd. 13 were at Ellerton Ings on the 23rd. Up to 25 drakes were ‘loafing’ at Wheldrake on the 30th when three broods (c25 ducklings) were seen. 

Shoveler – 40 were still present at Wheldrake Ings on the 6th with good numbers of breeding birds present throughout the site. 

Spoonbill – A single flew south at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st (CSR), where a belated record of one infront of Pool Hide was received for the 28th April. 

Grey Heron – The first fledged young were present on Wheldrake on the 8th, with increasing numbers concentrating there as the month progressed, including 29 on the 11th, 21 on the 20th and 33 on the 28th – thus showing a successful breeding season. 

Great White Egret – Two were present at Wheldrake on the 25th with a single present again on the 27th and 28th. 

Great White Egret - Wheldrake Ings - 25/05 - DB

Little Egret – Four were still present at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st with one at Thornton Ellers on the 5th. 17 were recorded across the valley on the 8th. Eight were then recorded at Wheldrake on the 11th with 21 at dusk there on the 18th and eight there on the 21st.  Elsewhere, up to three were present at Thornton Ellers on the 18th. 

Little Egret - North Duffield - 10/05 - CR

White Stork – A single flew north between Elvington and Wheldrake on the 22nd (CSR).

Cormorant – Up to 19 remained at Wheldrake Ings early in the month reducing to just a handful towards the end of the month. 

Little Grebe – At least two pairs were present at both Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island, along with a single pair at North Duffield Carrs. 

Little Grebe - Wheldrake - 29/05 - DB

Marsh Harrier – Two at Wheldrake on the 6th were followed by singles at North Duffield Ings on the 9th and North Duffield Carrs on the 9th and 10th. An immature male was present on the 14th with an adult male on the 16th, whilst a pair were noted at Wheldrake Ings from the 20th to month end. At least four or five individuals were thought to be involved during the month. 

Common Buzzard – A high count of 12 were reported at Wheldrake on the 20th with good numbers reported throughout the wider area. 

Peregrine – Five sightings were reported from the reserve during the month and presumably related to nearby breeding pairs. 

Hobby – A single was present at Wheldrake during the afternoon of the 1st, with two showing well there at dusk with three, possibly four at Bank Island on the 2nd, followed by two there on the 3rd, 4th and 5th. A single was also reported at Skipwith Common on the 5th and Wheldrake on the 6th. Singles at Bank Island and Melbourne on the 14th were followed by two at Wheldrake and two at North Duffield Carrs. Regular sightings were received at Wheldrake, Bank Island and elsewhere thereafter. A hatch of mayflies from the 22nd were enjoyed by hunting birds including a first summer individual at East Cottingwith Ings on the 23rd. Daily throughout thereafter. 

Red Kite – Present throughout the month in increasing numbers, making it unclear as to how many birds were involved. Two remained in the Thorganby area while three were present near Seaton Ross on the 18th, with presumably the same three reported near Aughton on the 22nd. Birds were regularly seen in the Wheldrake, Storwood and Bank Island areas and frequent sightings came from the Melbourne/Allerthorpe area. Three pairs were thought to be involved as well as additional singles/groups. 

Red Kite - Wheldrake - 20/05 - DB

Common Crane – Two at Thorganby Ings on the 17th (CSR) were followed by three at North Duffield Carrs on the 21st.      

Corncrake – A singing male found calling in front of the Geoff Smith Hide at North Duffield Carrs at 1100hrs on the 14th continued throughout the day (MFJ et al). It was then present and heard calling throughout the 15th and again on the 16th. Two were calling in the area on the 17th and thereafter until month end. Another was heard at East Cottingwith on the 23rd (CSR et al) followed by one at Wheldrake briefly on the 31st. 

Quail – The first singing bird was present on Melbourne and Thornton Ings on the 14th (NC) and again on the 15th (CSR) with one at East Cottingwith Ings on the 23rd 

Water Rail – A single was calling on the riverbank by Tower Hide on the 1st whilst another was seen at Church Bride, Melbourne on the same date. On the 18th three were recorded from the reedbed at Swantail Hide, followed by two along the old course of the River Derwent on the 20th. Up to three birds were heard calling from around Pool Hide on the 30th. 

Grey Partridge – A pair were present on the floodbank at North Duffield Ings on the 9th with another at Thornton Ellers on the 10th. A pair were seen again on the riverside track at Wheldrake Ings by Tower Hide on the 23rd. 

Avocet – Four were present at Bank Island on the 3rd. 

Little Ringed Plover – Two were present at Thornton Ellers on the 5th – 15th, followed by a single at Bank Island on the 22nd and 23rd. 

Ringed Plover – Two ‘tundra’ birds were present at Thornton Ellers on the 8th with two there again on the 11th along with a single at Bank Island on the 13th. Up to 18 were present at Thornton Ellers on the 14th, all having moved on by the following day. Seven ‘tundra’ birds were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th and 31st. 

Lapwing –  On the 1st up to 25 pairs were present at Wheldrake along with 27 (pairs) at North Duffield Carrs. 11 pairs were at Thornton Ellers on the 5th with the first chicks (a brood of four) appearing there on the 8th. Three broods (eight young) were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 9th along with seven pairs at North Duffield Ings on the 9th and 10th.  Eight pairs with two broods were present at Aughton Ings on the 11th with a brood at Seavy Carr on the 14th and further broods (four young) at North Duffield Carrs on the 16th.   Although not completed as yet, survey work so far suggested c100 pairs with good breeding success – 17 young caught and ringed. Post breeding flocks included 60 at Wheldrake Ings on the 27th and 45 at Ellerton on the 30th. 

Lapwing - North Duffield - 10/05 
 
Ruff  - A single was present at Thornton Ellers on the 13th with another at Bank Island on the 25th. 

Sanderling – A summer plumaged bird was present at Thornton Ellers on the 5th. 

Dunlin – A single at Thornton Ellers was present on the 8th, joined by another individual on the 10th. 

Black-tailed Godwit – A single pair lingered at Wheldrake Ings between the 1st-5th, with four there on the 6th and a pair on the 10th – with breeding thought to have been attempted. A single individual was present at Thornton Ellers on the 15th. 

Common Snipe – Four drumming birds were heard at Wheldrake on the 1st with up to 15 there by the 6th. Four were then heard drumming at Thornton Ellers on the 5th followed by five at Ellerton Ings on the 11th including a pair with a brood. Another pair with a brood were present at Grange Ings, Melbourne on the 14th with other birds seen distracting at Seavy Carr and Aughton. 

Common Snipe - East Cottingwith - 11/05

Whimbrel – At least 44 were present at the Wheldrake roost on the 1st, although birds were late in and may have been undercounted, while 31 were present before dusk feeding in fields near Ellerton. 88 were present throughout the valley on the 2nd with 31 recorded throughout the area on the 8th, down to 15 by the 10th. A late bird was at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd. 

Curlew – Sample counts included seven pairs present at North Duffield Carrs, along with three (pairs) at both Wheldrake Ings and Bank Island. Two (pairs) were recorded at Thornton Ellers along with a third pair nearby, whilst five pairs were noted at Ellerton and three pairs at North Duffield Ings.

Redshank – Four were noted at Thornton Ellers on the 5th whilst three pairs were seen at Aughton Ings on the 11th including a female incubating four eggs. Other sample counts included three pairs at Bank Island, five pairs at Wheldrake Ings and four pairs at North Duffield Carrs where two young were ringed on the 31st. 

Spotted Redshank – A single ‘black’ summer plumaged individual was present at Thornton Ellers on the 8th-10th (CSR, DB). 

Greenshank – Four were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 1st with three there on the 2nd and five at Thornton Ellers on the 5th. Four remained at this site on the 8th with just one lingering by the 10th but with four again there on the 11th. A single was also present at Bank Island between the 11th -21st with the same or another on the 27th-29th 

Common Sandpiper – A single was seen at the Melbourne Arm on the 1st while two were present at Thornton Ellers on the 5th. One was present at Bank Island on the 25th. 

Wood Sandpiper – A single was present at Thornton Ellers on the 8th and 11th. 

Iceland Gull – A late single was still present at Rufforth Tip on the 31st (CSR et al) - the latest record for the area. 

Common Tern – Four flew east along the Pocklington Canal at Melbourne on the 1st, while two were present at North Duffield Carrs on the 3rd. By the 4th a pair were investigating the new raft at Bank Island – the day after it was installed. A pair were then seen copulating on the other new raft on the pool at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th. Three were then present at this site between the 6th – 13th, whilst four were recorded between Bank Island and Wheldrake on the 14th. A total of 10 were present throughout the valley on the 16th-17th. A single pair were incubating a clutch on the Wheldrake raft on the 22nd with two pairs there on the 23rd to month end. 

Common Tern - Wheldrake - 29/05 - DB

Barn Owl – Sightings of adults carrying food increased during the month with many broods thought to have hatched by month end. 

Long-eared Owl – A single adult was seen in riverbank willows on the 21st near Tower Hide, Wheldrake. 

Cuckoo – Birds were heard calling regularly in the Storwood area early in the month and at Bank Island on the 2nd and Thornton Ellers on the 1st - 5th. Up to three were present at Wheldrake from the 8th, with further singles at Elvington and two singing males at Skipwith Common NNR. Up to three birds were present in the Melbourne area throughout – widespread with calling birds reported from c30 locations in the valley but considered to be less numerous than previous recent years. 

Cuckoo - Wheldrake - 25/05 - DB

Turtle Dove – A single was present in the remaining stronghold of the Foggathorpe area on the 14th (DB). 

Kingfisher – Birds were reported regularly from Bank Island, Wheldrake Ings and several sites along the Pocklington Canal. A single was also present near Sutton Lock on the 9th with a pair remaining in the area thereafter. 

Grey Wagtail – A single pair raised a brood at Bank Island whilst three pairs were reported along the Pocklington Canal during the month. 

Yellow Wagtail – 20+ at Thornton Ellers on the 5th with breeding birds scattered throughout. 

White Wagtail – Two were at Thornton Ellers on the 5th amongst 35 Pied Wagtails. 

Pied Wagtail – A pair were spotted nesting in the NNR base log store early in the month, and found to be incubating six eggs by the 11th, with the young fledging by the end of the month. 

Tree Pipit – Up to 11 singing males were present on Skipwith Common NNR. 

Wheatear – Singles were present at Thornton Ings (10th) and North Duffield Carrs (10th/11th). A further single was also present in the Wheldrake Ings reedbed on the 11th. 

Wheatear - North Duffield - 11/05

Swift – Three were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with two or three daily thereafter, until a large arrival brought 50+ to Bank Island and 100+ to Wheldrake Ings on the 5th. 300+ were present on the 8th. 

Garden Warbler –Three were singing at Bank Island on the 4th. 

Lesser Whitethroat – Good numbers were present throughout the site with three pairs at Bank Island and five at Wheldrake Ings on the 4th. 

Nuthatch – A single was seen carrying food in the car park lane at Wheldrake Ings on the 9th. 

Corn Bunting – Up to 21 pairs were located on the Ings grasslands during the month – an increasing trend of birds moving onto the Ings over recent years. Good numbers were also present in the Thornton area and around East Cottingwith.


MAMMALS: 

Roe Deer – Up to seven were present at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st with good numbers throughout the rest of the site. A single newly born fawn was found at Seavy Carr on the 25th. 

Fallow Deer – Four were present near Skipwith Common NNR on the 9th. 

Brown Hare – Three at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st were followed by four at Thornton Ellers on 5th and four at North Duffield Carrs. Six were seen at Menthorpe Ings on the 8th with seven in the Thornton area on the 10th. Good numbers were reported throughout the rest of the month. 

Mole – A single was present at Thornton Ellers on the 5th.


MOTHS: 

Hummingbird Hawk-moth – A single in the reserve base garden at Bank Island on the 31st.


BUTTERFLIES: 

Peacock – Three at Bank Island and Wheldrake Ings on the 5th with four at North Duffield Carrs on the same date. One at North Duffield on the 10th with two there on the 11th.

Red Admiral – A single at Bank Island on the 5th and 22nd, whilst three were at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd, with two in the NNR base garden on the 25th. Six at Wheldrake Ings on the 30th and four at North Duffield Carrs on the 31st. 

Painted Lady – The first of the year was present at North Duffield Carrs on the 31st. 

Brimstone – A single at Thorganby on the 4th, followed by singles at North Duffield and Ellerton on the 11th.

Orange Tip – Two at Wheldrake Ings on the 2nd with two at East Cottingwith on the 11th.

Comma – A single at Wheldrake and North Duffield Carrs on the 5th  was followed by another at Bank Island on the 22nd with four there on the 23rd. 

Holly Blue – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 5th 

Common Blue – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 23rd was the first of the year. 

Small Copper – A single at Wheldrake Ings on the 22nd was the first of the year and was soon followed by one in the reserve base garden on the 25th. 

Wall – A single at the reserve base garden on the 25th.


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