The CEMEX team at Dove Holes quarry, Derbyshire is helping to save the Twite, similar to sparrows but smaller, by creating a flower-rich meadow which provides seeds such as sorrel. Twite is one of only two British birds that feed their young entirely on seed, so an abundant supply close to their nests is vital.
Working in partnership with the RSPB, the five hectare field right next to the Twites’ breeding area has just been planted with a special seed mix to encourage a flower-rich meadow. Next spring it will provide those vital seeds needed by the chicks.
The Twite has the most restricted distribution of any English breeding bird, close to extinction and holding on to survival by the skin of its beak. The majority of the population is centred on the South Pennine moorlands near Huddersfield but there is a tiny population that nests in Dove Holes quarry.
These small birds nest in fissures, long narrow cracks, in the quarry face. They have declined rapidly in the 20th century as traditional late-cut hay meadows have been replaced by Rye grass silage fields which provided no food for the Twite. Today, it is thought that there are fewer than 100 breeding pairs in England.
George Hudson, a keen local birder has been watching the birds on the site for years comments “Despite the fact that they are tough little birds, we are in a grim position throughout the country. In 2008 there were around 50 Twite in this area, but they have hung on in the quarry and through the summer we have seen around 10 or 11 but no young. They can recover from this very small number and the new meadow will make all the difference, giving them a fighting chance.”
Tim Melling, RSPB Conservation Officer said “Twite used to be common and widespread throughout the Peak District but now this tiny population is all that remains. If we lose these birds we might never get them back, but if we help them, they may provide a nucleus to regain its former status in the Peak. Creating this perfect meadow right next to their nesting grounds should certainly help. ”
EndsNotes to editors:
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