Sunday, 10 November 2013

Finally....We caught a twite

I spent today off the patch, not even on the mainland - I was marooned on Coquet Island.

If you've read this rubbish since I started writing my blog, you may recall our mission to ring twite and how we have failed miserably for six years. Well today we finally ringed a twite on the Northumberland coast

Our first efforts were concentrated in the National Trust paddock, just to the south of the plantation at Druridge. The NTBC funded us to buy some niger seed with the hope of colour-ringing twite as part of the national scheme. For two winters we baited the area up but couldn't encourage the twite to leave their favoured habitat of the denuded dunes at Hemscotthill, feeding on weed seeds amongst the silage used to feed the over-wintering beast.

Everything else ate the niger, including rooks!

So plan B was hatched when I discovered that Coquet Island holds a twite flock each autumn.

Year 1 - Natural England permission wasn't received before the twite left
Year 2 - It snowed
Year 3 - Every trip aborted because of the weather.
Year 4 - Finally today, we caught our first twite.

The first twite to be colour-ringed on the Northumberland Coast
The Coquet twite appear to leave the Island once the food has gone or it snows, heading for saltmarsh or dunes on the mainland?

We hope to catch some more before they leave, but even if we don't, please keep an eye open for colour-ringed twite on the coast this winter. We still don't know where our wintering twite breed, so hopefully some more colour-ringed birds might shed some light. Here is Coquet Island lighthouse shedding its own light at dusk tonight.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


Two brief visits to the patch today between chores.

It was bright and cold today with brisk westerly wind, I tramped around the northern end of the patch. No snow buntings to be seen on the beach, Dave Elliott must have tempted them north to feast on pin-head oats or whatever else he's been spreading.

There was a huge flock goldfinches in the dunes, maybe 250 or more, they're feeding on burdock and thistle seeds.

Some of the goldfinches

The finches weren't the only golden thing in the sky.

RAF Boulmer 202 Squadron flying over Druridge. I will miss seeing these when they go.
This evening I had a look for a black-throated diver that had been reported on the sea off the plantation. No sign of it, but plenty red-throated divers and a great-crested grebe.