Friday, 3 June 2016

Twite of the day

Twite is a speciality of the Outer Hebrides, and we were fortunate enough to stumble across several paired up birds on our meanderings around North Uist over the Bank Holiday weekend. Like the waders, the best views were obtained kerb-crawling around the back roads of the island, often quite close to human settlements and their motley collections of rusting farm machinery. I was just commenting to my travelling companions on the shocking state of some of the dead tractors which the locals leave lying around, and wondering aloud 'why can't they all be as attractive as that rusty old plough on the verge - hang on, what's that on top of it - Twite!'. It flew before we could raise our cameras but landed again on a fence on the other side of the road for a close view and a preen to reveal the pink rump of a breeding bird.
When driving around the island, we stopped on many occasions to check fencelines for perched birds. I would estimate that about 1% of these were Corn Bunting, 1% were Twite, 1% were Stonechat, 30% were Meadow Pipits, and 67% were the chunky metal clamps used by the islanders to tension barbed wire fences. These became known as 'Clampfinch', a byword for false alarms. As the trip progressed, we also spotted the closely related Clampchat, Clamp Pipit and the much rarer Clamp Bunting (which was more inclined to perch on telegraph wires than fencelines).
Corn Bunting at Balranald
Meadow Pipit
Stonechat, stubbornly refusing to sit on a fence
Clampfinch - as you can see, easily confused with a distant Twite. This one even has a pink rump patch

No comments:

Post a Comment