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.

Friday, 11 August 2017

03/08/17 - Working and 'swanning'

This week our fantastic team of volunteers have been hard at work once again, this time helping us to manage the hedges, riverbank hawthorns and scattered willows at North Duffield Carrs, and with so many extra pairs of hands several of the team were also busy strimming vegetation at the ‘top pond’, whilst two eager souls waded across to the island to rake and burn the remaining cut vegetation. Throughout the course of the day we also flailed the edge of the meadows, bunds and ditch sides, in order to help maintain the open landscape that has been well appreciated by our breeding waders this year (following similar management work last summer and autumn). 

At the end of another very productive day, we then finished off by catching one of the resident broods of Mute Swans – a pair with five cygnets, in order to ring and colour-ring them as part of our long running population study. Many thanks as always to the team for all their hard work.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

01/08/17 - Minster Peregrines

Over the last few weeks Jean has been up to her usual amazing and heroic efforts in rescuing and safe guarding our special wildlife, particularly birds of prey. Some of our regular followers might remember that earlier in the year Jean was involved in successfully looking after several juvenile Peregrines, and releasing them back into the wild - including the young bird that was featured on Springwatch, following the illegal persecution of its parents. Three of the other chicks fledged from their foster nests, whilst a fourth bird was returned to another site near Ferrybridge having crash landed on an early flight. That bird wasn’t to be the last Peregrine Jean would see this year though – as last week one of the York Minster chicks ended up on the ground on its maiden flight. Jean was soon in action and safely returned the chick to the nesting ledge to keep it out of harm’s way until it gets a little bit more strength in those flight muscles. After a few years of attempting to breed on this site this is the first time they have been successful.

After an absence until the 1980's, Peregrines have since become regular winter visitors to the area, with four or five birds seen on an almost daily basis around the reserve. The first breeding pair was recorded six years ago in the adjacent area, and now it’s great to see them back in the heart of the city – well done to all involved and well done once again Jean for all the great work you do.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

26/07/17 - Making hay

With a break in the weather last week the valley has been a hub of activity with the local farming community busy making hay. This traditional practice of mid-summer hay making has been taking place for centuries, which, followed by aftermath grazing and the mix of summer grazing pastures around the valley, has shaped both the flowers and bird communities (and other wildlife), we enjoy on our doorstep here. Hay making can take place after the end of the bird breeding season and once the seeds have started to drop from the various wildflowers and grasses. The cutting of the grass also helps keep in check the more vigorous and dominant species of vegetation, and helps the finer grasses and more delicate herbs to flourish. This in turn helps maintain not only the meadows in good conditions for the flowers, but in providing suitable feeding conditions for our wintering waterfowl and breeding waders in subsequent seasons – all part of the rich seasonality of the Ings. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

22/07/17 - Kestrel success

At the end of last week we returned to our new Kestrel site, three weeks after finding five tiny newly hatched young. On arrival at the site, a natural tree hole in a large Ash, we were greeted by two large chicks peering down on us. Hoping the other chicks were at the back of the hole, we climbed up to unfortunately find just the two of them. Both of the chicks were quite well feathered and likely to survive, and being so advanced enabled us to sex them by looking at the colour of their tail feathers (grey for males, brown for females). 

This brood aside, on the whole it’s been good news, Kestrels seem to have had a very successful breeding season around the valley this year with a good number of birds being seen across the site - just this last week we've started to see fledged broods at Wheldrake and North Duffield Carrs - with six recently fledged chicks at both sites. 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

20/07/17 - Ducklings & decoys

Our invaluable team of hardy volunteers have been busy helping out with all sorts of jobs at Wheldrake Ings recently – even in the miserable and very wet weather of last week – a bit of rain obviously doesn’t faze our hardy crew! Along with clearing glades, managing water levels, maintaining paths and removing balsam, the team have also helped in pushing the corale and running the swan pipe to catch and ring some of our locally bred ducklings. It’s been a particularly good year for Gadwall with over 60 ducklings in various broods still present on the pool – out of those we’ve managed to catch 17 so far – a significant proportion of the national annual total. This will give us valuable information of this expanding population and where some of our ‘local’ ducks go to. We’ve had several Gadwall ducklings to France, two to Ireland and even one to Russia. 

We are also pleased to announce that we’ve just secured a £15,000 grant from Defra to carry out such further tracking work using newer technology on some of these birds – more to come shortly but exciting times ahead and more great work for our volunteers to be part of. Many thanks again to our great team for another productive day – and fantastic to welcome new volunteer Jo to the group.

Not only have we been busy working on the reserve lately, but we've also been putting the finishing touches to the Escrick Duck Decoy - last week our team of staff and volunteers were busy undertaking ongoing maintenance of this restored site. In very hot temperatures (stark contrast to last week’s rain!), the team spent the day working hard strimming back the pool side vegetation, cleaning out the pipes, treating the hide, and putting in way marked posts. Another fantastic effort from our super team, many thanks to all involved. 


Duck decoys were originally introduced from the Netherlands as a way of catching ducks for the local markets, with hundreds once in operation throughout England, however only a handful remain today. The Escrick site is the only remaining and restored site in Yorkshire, and will soon be operated to catch and ring ducks to further our knowledge of their movements. We have an ‘official’ opening event planned for early September, followed by an Open Day on the 9th September – watch this space for more details. Many thanks again to everyone for their efforts in helping to get this site up and running.