Twite by Janne and Hanna Aalto
Over the last few weeks, the reserve has been the venue for an increasingly rare sight in Norfolk – a wintering flock of twite.
The twite is a small finch and can usually be found feeding in mixed flocks with linnets on the saltmarsh and along the tide line on the beach. Although similar to linnet, twite can be identified by their pale bills, buff/orangey wash to the face and upper breast, pinkish rump (base of the tail) and a buzzy call in flight.
The decline in numbers in Norfolk has been very dramatic. As recently as the mid-1970’s, a flock of 1000 birds were recorded at Titchwell with the last big flock noted in 1990 of 300. The reasons for these declines are not fully understood but has probably been influenced by the loss of breeding habitat in northern England. Studies on these breeding populations have been underway to the last few years and this is where we need YOUR help.
Up to 50 birds have been feeding on the brackish marsh recently and many of them are individually marked with coloured leg rings. This enables the researchers to track individual birds and monitor their breeding success and wintering grounds. Many of the birds are carrying pink rings which identifies that they have been ringed in the south-east Pennines.
How can you help – if you see any of the colour-ringed twite on your visit, can you have a close look at the ring combination and report it to a member of the Titchwell team. The image below shows several of the birds currently present on the reserve.
Twite by Dave Curtis