Over the past few weeks Twite numbers at the Heysham feeding station have been fairly constant at around 30 - 38. The vast majority of these were ringed birds (with metal and colour combinations). Between 3 and 7 birds were unringed on average. The birds were mostly seen as large groups and catching efforts resulted in a single catch of a reasonable number (or no catches!) on any day. Two to three Linnets were present on occasions too. This flock size was present as recently as Sunday (yesterday).
This morning, things were quite different. Small groups of birds were seen together with a number of Linnets and a much higher proportion of the Twite were not ringed. Six separate net deployments resulted in catches of most of these small groups. The proportion of unringed birds was now 11 out of a total of 17 (plus a total of 6 Linnets which were also caught).
It would seem that in the last weeks, the "local" wintering birds were frequenting and feeding in the area from Heysham southwards to the Fylde. Twite are very mobile and visit a number of widely separated sites daily within their overall area. Flocks including Heysham ringed birds have been witnessed as far as the Southport shore recently.
The apparent break up of the flock and arrival of unringed birds seems to indicate that local birds are now moving north towards their breeding grounds in the western Scotland mainland and islands and that individuals that have not been on the Heysham part of the daily circuit (i.e. unringed birds) are moving through, possibly taking advantage of the feeding station there en route.