NLRG was formed in 1957 to help in the study of birds in the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society area. There are currently 12 active ringers. Species currently being studied include: Pied Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Sand Martin, Twite, Goosander, Oystercatcher and Grey Wagtail. Migration has been studied for 28 years at Heysham. We welcome anyone who wants to observe, help or perhaps wish to become a ringer. Photo: A Heysham-ringed Twite on the Mull of Kintyre (thanks to Eddie Maguire)

Sunday 22 December 2013

Will More Twite Come or Not?

Our Twite ringing project has taken a few knocks so far this winter.  Very few birds have arrived at Heysham Harbour this autumn in comparison with previous years. Maximum numbers so far have only been around 17 ( up to 81 last winter at this time). Flocks are present on the coast to the south of us and on Walney, although none has yet appeared at a ringing site on the Duddon Estuary.  Either we have been bypassed this year or possibly there may be more to come if the weather to the north delivers a cold spell.

The storm of 5/12 did not help the situation as the feeding area was severely disrupted by flood water; the area was described elsewhere as a mini-replica of the Grand Canyon.  Some renovation of the area allowed feeding to continue and a regular flock of up to 50 finches comprising Goldfinch, Linnet and single figure numbers of Twite have been present.

This morning saw the site half flooded again.  A couple of hours with pick and shovel resulted in a pair of channels that will hopefully divert water around the feeding area.  The 'upstream' end of the area was also built up above the suroundings to try to deflect water as well.  Following this disturbance fresh seed attracted a flock of similar numbers of finches within minutes.  They had clearly been watching the procedings from nearby.  The make up of Goldfinch, Linnets (and Twite?) was not determined owing to the very strong wind (wind chill recorded at -6C) causing eyes to water copiously and binoculars to buffet!

Whether or not this work is a lasting solution is doubtful unless the weather calms down considerably.

Hopefully things will improve after this week and ringing might again be a possibility.  Note that vehicle access along most of the harbour wall is prohibited for safety reasons until the storm damage to harbour installations is rectified by the harbour authorities.


1 comment:

Pete Marsh said...

Observation of (different) ringed individuals and ratios of ringed/unringed revealed that many more birds than usual just simply visited the feeding station once and then passed through. This was perhaps because of the complete (bar one or two?)lack of pre winter 2012-13-ringed birds i.e. those imprinted on the site for more than one winter period. This was unexpected and, allied to the probably abundance of natural food on the saltmarshes in the mild conditions, presumably contributed to Heysham not being used as a northerly outpost of reliable food for the Twite flocks frequenting the saltmarshes to the south. In this respect, there are no flocks to the north of Heysham, and therefore Heysham is the most northerly utilised food source with no 'through put' of individuals to and from the north. There are good numbers on the saltmarshes to the south of the Lune and, as some Twite are still visiting Heysham, more can be expected as natural food runs out and 'the word gets round' at the night time roost(s). Indeed there are signs that this is happpening (e.g. 29/12)