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.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

15/03/17 - Lizards, frogs & a furry intruder

Last week the first Common Lizard of the year was seen on Skipwith Common NNR - pictured here taking advantage of the warm sunshine. Lizards are usually found sitting in the small cracks and crevices along the old bomb bay walls, often venturing out to soak up the sunshine, then darting back in if they sense someone/something approaching. Fortunately we were able to get close views of this one, seemingly oblivious to our presence and more intent on enjoying the much needed warm weather.

 Common Lizard - Skipwith Common 

It wasn't just the lizard enjoying the weather yesterday, our team of volunteers were hard at work once again, finishing the roof to the new wood shed and building a new enclosure for an atmospheric monitoring station at North Duffield Carrs – helping to provide valuable data to the Long Term Monitoring Network. Thanks once again to our team for another productive and enjoyable day.

 Jeff & Hilary constructing the new woodshed

Along with the lizard, we also spotted the first frog of the year in the pond at the NNR base – one of the signs that spring is underway. 

 Common Frog - NNR base pond

As temperatures start to rise and day length increases, frogs and toads are now starting to move to their breeding grounds after a winter spent in hibernation. Which means two of our volunteers now have another job on their hands - at this time of year on a warm, damp evening, Nick & Sandra are likely to be found patrolling the main road at Hunmanby Gap, helping frogs, toads and newts make their way across as they try and dodge the traffic. Armed with numerous road signs, high-vis jackets and buckets, last year 376 Common Toads, 16 Common Frogs, 15 Great Crested Newts and 28 Smooth Newts were given a helping hand crossing the road, reducing what could otherwise be a high mortality rate. So a big thank you and well done to you both for your incredible commitment to helping our wildlife.

 Home made signs
 Toad on the move
 Sandra checking drains

Aside from our amphibian and reptiles, we recently had a close encounter with one of our mammalian species - whilst re-filling our metal food bins with grain for our duck ringing and bird feeding stations, we came upon two Wood Mice that had climbed up the side and dropped in, then realising they couldn’t get back out, had preceded to make a nest among the wheat and barley. Nestled together it seemed a shame to disturb them, so we spent a few minutes enjoying observing them before setting them free.

 Wood Mouse - NNR base

Wood Mice are common on the reserve and are quite distinctive, with their sandy brown fur, large protruding eyes, large ears and a fairly long tail they are easily separated from our vole species. The large eyes and ears point to the fact that they are largely nocturnal, and spend a lot of time underground in burrows. The burrows are fairly complicated and may include nest chambers and food stores. Food tends to be made up of woodland seeds and nuts, with a greater percentage of insect prey in the summer months. Wood Mice are found in a range of habitats, although they do tend to favour woodland and are least found in open grassland, which fits with them being a key prey item for Tawny Owls (hunters of woodland, hedgerows and parks/gardens). Hopefully this little guy is somewhere else safe now, but no doubt it won’t be the last we see of him now that he knows where a good food supply is!

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