Image courtesy of Michael Bloomfield
Information gathered by the RSPB has shown what tough stuff our little Twite is made of. The Twite, which weighs in at an average of 14-15g with a wingspan of around 23cm can travel incredible distances during its annual migration. The journeys of many of these birds are monitored by the RSPB through ringing the birds; small chicks are fitted with a numbered metal ring and a unique combination of colour rings around their leg when they are 7-9 days old. This helps identify birds when they are found elsewhere so that we can learn more about their habits and lifestyle. Ringing has absolutely no detrimental effect on the bird, and they do look very jolly wearing their ‘bling’!
Incredibly, a recent record showed that a bird which was ringed on 3rd January 2009 in Dunwich, Suffolk, travelled 597km over 540 days all the way to the Highlands of Scotland where she was spotted at the Machrihanish Seabird Observatory in Argyll and Bute on 27th June 2010! Twite normally only travel about 2.5km between their nesting and feeding sites. The journey that this little Twite made was unusual – our Pennine Twite usually travel from the South Pennines to the East or South coast – this particular Twite travelled a long way back to its breeding grounds after its winter migration.
During this long journey, the Twite actually put on 0.3g in body weight and retain exactly the same wingspan. We wonder if she stopped in the South Pennines to re-fuel at our hay meadows!