Yesterday I headed out with Pinkcuckoos and Mozillatewildly (I assume they have real names) for North Cave Wetlands. Not long after arriving James came along, grumbling about something or another. After a solid morning involving water rail, James (like a registered predator) lured us into his car with promises of sweets and blacktoft sands. The recent reports of raptors meant we eager to climb in, despite James’ wandering hands.
En route, we came across a roadkill badger masquerading as a two dead hares laying next to each other. After being impressed with it’s weasely girth we arrived at the reserve. The first hide showed little, with a man apparently lobbing stones at everything of interest (he may have doing work on the site, but i prefer my prejudices). Quickly after the fun started. The next stop showed the usual vast numbers of marsh harrier and luckily, a sultry looking male Hen Harrier. They are wondrous. I would more than happily share a flat with one, even if I knew he was unlikely to contribute to the gas bill.
Some time after being by a pair of peregrines, a ringtail hen harrier and a peak of 9 marsh harrier and interesting flock of small birds appeared. As they flew over the hide, we went outside to for a better look. Fortunately they alighted in a tree right outside the hide. They were either twite or linnet. The discussions of their identity quickly became heated. I may be misremembering but I’m sure James spat in my face and spouted some racial slurs. I took the side of twite quite early. James remained unconvinced. Hopefully the following points will clear the air and he will release those children.
– Their calls. While we didn’t know at the time, upon researching the calls made by the flock were not linnet-esque in the slightest.
– The behaviour of them as described in the collins bird guide matched twite to a tee.
– This picture hopefully shows a few other key features. The light made it quite difficult to get good shots, despite how obliging close they were.
1 – The lack of markings on the throat is indicative of twite
2- The white line along the coverts is stronger in twite than linnet, which the picture seems to show.
3- I’ll admit this one is rather weak, but the tail seems more deeply forked than what I’ve seen in pictures of linnet.
– There has been reports of a flock of 18 twite since the 9th of January. If they were all twite (which it looked like) the flock has grown to over 40 strong, has shown in this photo (which i’m rather keen on despite the blurriness)
The main feature we didn’t see was an obvious yellow beak. In my research i have found mentions that is quite hard to see in certain lights, which given the dusk-ish light that was about, seems a likely explanation.
If anyone has any opinions, either for or against my ID please let me know in the comments.