The last recorded sighting of Twite in the Heysham Harbour area this year was on 28th March. This date is 10 days earlier than the last seen at the end of winter in 2011.
In general, the birds’ behaviour this winter has been a little different to previous years, possibly a result of more abundant natural food here. We did not have a regular large flock using the feeding station, but small groups coming and going. These groups often seemed to consist of different birds and were often present for a relatively small part of the day. It seems certain that the groups were part of the larger local population as they always were virtually all wearing rings fitted during the Winter, but the mix of colour combinations present varied. In previous winters, there has been a larger, more stable flock visiting more regularly and staying around for longer.
An interesting report of a Twite ringed at Heysham Harbour sighted at Whitworth Quarry, Rossendale on 1st April 2012 has just been received. The colour combination tells us that this individual was ringed very recently (on 3rd, 15th or 25th Feb 2012).
It would appear that this bird has moved from its wintering area at Heysham directly to its likely breeding grounds, but not in western Scotland as we are accustomed to. We are aware of only two previous sightings of Heysham birds in the Pennines and one of a Pennine bird at Heysham:
Ringed Oct/Nov 2009, Heysham - controlled Close Moss, Marsden 14/06/2010.
Ringed Oct/Nov 2010, Heysham - controlled Swales Moor, Halifax Feb/Mar 2011.
Ringed 24/09/2004, Light Hazzles - controlled Heysham 01/11/2005.
Our initial thoughts from ringing and recoveries/sightings in the early years at Heysham were that our birds mainly went up the western coast of Scotland to breed, and that the Pennine population was separate. It may now be that some do indeed move to the (much closer) Pennine breeding grounds.