Monday, 15 December 2014

Twite in Somerset!

Twite in Somerset is a very rare treat indeed and at the moment there appears to have been a small influx on the north Somerset coast. Initially four were present on the salt marsh at Brean Down but since then the tally has risen in the area to include up to eight reported in one flock and at least another five close by! The weather on Saturday was superb - a bright, clear, crisp, sunny winter's day so  after I received a text from Dave Helliar asking if I was interested in going up for them, we were soon heading off to Brean to try and find them for ourselves.

As soon as we arrived we could see a few photographers lined up in the distance and a birder returning to his car confirmed that the flock of four were still showing well. Ten minutes later we were at the spot but there were no Twite to be seen and the small group of people had scattered in different directions leaving us to wonder whether we had just dipped them!

We stayed put though and the birds returned about 20 minutes later and sat up on the fence along the edge of the salt marsh giving fantastic views in beautiful conditions. They are smart little birds with bags of character and always nice to see:

Twite, Brean Down: Dave Helliar
Two of the four: R. Harris
Would have been nice to get them a bit closer but they seemed a little skittish so we kept our distance. I did get a short video as well:

Satisfied we'd nailed the Twite, we then made our way over to a shingle ridge on the edge of the salt marsh where a snow bunting has been hanging out for the last week too. We soon located it and had great views:

Snow Bunting, Brean Down: R. Harris
Snow Bunting, Brean Down: D. Helliar
Snow Bunting, Brean Down: R. Harris

As we left the Snow Bunting and made our way back to the path, we kicked up a short-eared owl - a first for the winter! There was also a Water Pipit in the area but that one didn't materialise for us. By the time we returned to where the Twite had been seen earlier a handful of birders and photographers had assembled and I left Dave there to go and look for a showy male Black Redstart back near the car park. WRONG decision. Fifteen minutes later I still hadn't found the Black Red but Dave and the others had connected with a flyover Lapland Bunting that had been seen earlier in the week! I didn't go back but Dave and I met up shortly afterwards and the Black Red finally put in an appearance just as we started to loose the light and what a beauty it was:

Black Redstart, Brean Down: Dave Helliar
Not a bad afternoon's birding considering we'd only had about three hours to see everything. If only I could have a few more days like that...

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