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, 17 May 2013

12/05/13 - On foreign soil....

Reading colour-rings in the field has been really valuable in getting to know 'our' Whimbrel, and regular readers of the blog will know from last years posts that these have shown just how site faithful and regular the birds can be and are a good indicator for the length of stay. 

Out of the 101 colour-ringed birds out there by the end of 2012, this had generated a further 400+ colour-ringed sightings, all of them local apart from another movement within Yorkshire last year

Well, that was the case until last week when we heard from across the channel that one of our birds had been spotted in France! On the 3rd May, Gilbert Vimard saw one of our birds in a roost at Manche, Normandy, France. 

This bird (EL99843) was ringed at Wheldrake Ings on the 1st May 2008, with several re-sightings since (shown below). This is an interesting record and suggests that it has changed roost sites during the year – perhaps delayed on spring migration like many of our migrants this year. Many thanks to Gilbert for this diligent observation and sending the sighting on – once again showing the value of colour-rings for allowing wider involvement in these projects.

Whimbrel (EL99843): Red/Lime Red

2008 – Ringed on the 1st May, seen several times afterwards until the 6th May

2010 – Seen back in the valley on the 22nd April (DT)

2011 – Seen back in the valley on the 20th April (PR), present until at least the 24th April (PR)

2013 – Seen in a roost at Manche, Normandy, France on the 3rd May

We’ve been busy over the last few weeks since our initial Whimbrel post, monitoring the numbers of birds in the roost and locating birds in the day time feeding areas along with checking the birds for colour-rings. It’s been a frustrating job as the birds have been more difficult to locate during the day as the relatively dry conditions appear to have forced birds into different feeding areas, thus meaning that we’ve only been able to find a fraction of the birds present on any given day. The slow spring has meant that many of the day time feeding pastures haven’t yet got grazing livestock on them, and whilst the grass growth has been slow it doesn’t take much growth for the colour-rings/legs to be obscured, or indeed for the whole Whimbrel to disappear!


However, our hard work and persistence has paid off with a total of 13 different colour-rings read off since the first ones were seen on the 22nd, the other new ones for the year are listed below:


Whimbrel: Yellow/Yellow – Pink

2010 – Ringed on the 19th April, seen several times until the 24th April (CR)

2012 – Sighted on the 30th April (LM), present until at least the 6th May

2013 – Sighted on the 22nd April


Whimbrel: Yellow/Yellow – Orange

2006 – Ringed on the 23rd April, last seen on the 2nd May (DT)

2009 – Sighted on the 20th April (DT), present until the 25th April (PR)

2010 – Sighted on the 19th April (PR), re-caught on the 20th and then present until the 27th April (PR)

2011 – Sighted on the 20th April, present until the 29th April (PR)

2012 – Sighted on the 20th April (CR), seen multiple times until the last sighting on the 3rd May (CR)

2013 – Sighted on the 25th April


Whimbrel: White/White – Yellow

2009 – Ringed on the 29th April

2010 – Sighted on the 22nd April (PR), last seen on the 30th May (PR)

2011 – Sighted on the 24th April (PR), seen several times by PR until the 29th April

2012 – Sighted on the 30th April (LM), seen again several times until the 3rd May (CR)

2013 – Sighted on the 25th April


Whimbrel: White/Yellow – Yellow

2009 – Ringed on the 29th April

2010 – Sighted back in the valley on the 19th April (PR), re-caught on the 26th April and then seen again on the 27th (PR)

2012 – Sighted on the 26th April (LM)

2013 – Sighted on the 25th April


Whimbrel: Yellow/Orange – Lime

2005 – Ringed on the 2nd May, seen several times by DT until the 10th May

2006 – Sighted back in the valley on the 2nd May (DT)

2007 – Sighted back in the valley on the 30th April (CR), re-caught on the 4th May and then seen again several times until the 8th May (DT)

2012 – Sighted back in the valley on the 28th April (CR)

2013 – Sighted on the 26th April


Whimbrel: Lime/Yellow – Pink

2010 – Ringed on the 2nd May

2013 – Sighted on the 29th April

These are great results and once again we are grateful to the many local birders who have reported day time feeding birds around the LDV area and managed to read off any colour-ringed birds. This is the real value of colour-ringing and where the real hard work begins – catching and ringing the birds is simply the start!

And so the projects continues......

The Bank Holiday Monday saw some of the LDV ringers gather once again for an attempt to catch and colour-ring Whimbrel at the Wheldrake spring staging site as they came into roost. Although many aspects of the LDV Whimbrel project are now complete, it is important to monitor this nationally important spring staging site. We also decided it would be useful to keep a marked sample of known individuals in the population on a rolling programme, by marking individuals on a single catch per year. We decided to do this after the peak count of birds after the 1st May as to limit any possible disturbance to the roost. So in the baking afternoon sunshine (and 20 degrees heat!), 1200ft of net was erected in time for the birds returning at dusk for the roost. Long walks in chest waders after dark and through waist high vegetation/water/mud was undoubtedly hard and hot work but produced a catch of six new Whimbrel - all of which were colour-ringed (one of the new birds can be seen below - Yellow/White - Blue).


The weights of these birds were interesting in that they were quite low suggesting they had either been late arriving during the spring and had not yet fed up and weren’t ready to go, or, had been struggling to feed and put on weight with the dry conditions out in the fields. The Whimbrel seem to arrive here weighing about 350grams and leave between 550-600 grams: most birds caught were around the 400 mark although one sizable female was over 530 grams and perhaps getting ready to make the onward migration to Iceland or Sweden perhaps.

Hopefully these birds will be seen back here next year or somewhere else on their travels. 

Other birds caught included two breeding Redshank and a Little Grebe (our 43rd to be ringed in the valley) all of which were also colour-ringed as part of ongoing projects.

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