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Rare wryneck bird drops in from Scandinavia

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

The Scandinavian Wryneck bird was spotted at Langport sewage treatment works before carrying on its journey to Africa

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A Scandinavian bird that is rarely seen in this country has been spotted at Langport sewage treatment works.

The wryneck was spotted at the Wessex Water plant, between the town and Curry Rivel, in fine meshed nets that are used to capture and tag birds to record their activity.

The small, sparrow-sized bird is in the woodpecker family and breeds in the Scandinavian forests.

Its name comes from the peculiar way it twists its neck when it is captured.

Doug Miller, 81, of Westonzoyland, near Bridgwater, has been bird-ringing for around 40 years and caught the wryneck in Langport.

He said: “The bird is most likely travelling to Africa for the winter.

“I saw another wryneck two years ago but there have only been two in Somerset in the last 20 years.

“It was so gentle, it is a really calm and collected bird. All birds are really, even the big hawks, so long as you hold them right.

“Langport is a great site, you get hundreds of birds there. It’s sheltered and without any disturbances – there isn’t really anyone down there or any dogs or animals, and I think they must know that.

“I went down recently and saw about 600 house martins. It’s lovely. It is better than a nature reserve in some ways.”

The wryneck is in the highest conservation priority category used for birds in the UK.

The categorisation splits birds into three categories of importance – red, amber and green. The wryneck’s red category means the species needs urgent conservation action.

The British Trust for Ornithology rings birds at sites such as the Langport sewage works to monitor the populations and survival of all types of birds.

The captures are recorded and the birds are then set free again.

Mr Miller said: “We ring birds in the interests of conservation, but the majority that we get coming through are common birds.

“I look forward to the next unusual bird to arrive at Langport – almost anything is possible.”

Andy Mears, Wessex Water’s resident bird expert, said: “Any recoveries of the rings provide valuable information on movements and can help conservation researchers.”

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