National Willow Tit survey, 2019-20

The Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP) and RSPB are working to deliver a national Willow Tit survey in 2019 and 2020.  It is hoped that county-level surveys can be conducted across the known range by Willow Tit study groups, county bird clubs and other organisations. So far, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales have agreed to help fund the survey.

wt5Our endemic race of Willow Tit is the second-fastest declining species in the UK, after Turtle Dove, and is Red-listed. RSPB and others have conducted research into causes of decline, and are trialling woodland management solutions for Willow Tit. Due to the declining numbers however, monitoring the species is becoming increasingly difficult. Whilst the Breeding Bird Survey is still able to produce an annual trend, the sample had fallen to just 46 squares by 2017.

Although collation of records by the RBBP is useful for the design of future surveys, it is currently insufficient to enable robust population estimates, measures of change or maps of current distribution to be produced: thus a national survey is needed if our conservation work is going to be properly underpinned by evidence.

At this stage, Glamorgan Bird Club has been in touch with the national survey organiser Simon Wotton (simon.wotton@rspb.org.uk), with a view to collaborating and sharing data we have already collected about our local population.

If you would like any more information on the survey, watch this space, or contact Simon Wotton or Stephen Bladwell (stephen.bladwell@rspb.org.uk). The RSPB have produced a leaflet giving some details of how the survey will operate – please have a look at it here.

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First records submitted

The first news of birds form the Project’s fieldwork have started to arrive.

A singing male has been seen in the Cynon Valley, and a pair in suitable habitat at Nelson Wern.  A bird is still present at the regular feeding site at Garw Nant.

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Willing for Willow Tits

A new GBC project

In 2018 Glamorgan Bird Club, with a grant from Welsh Ornithological Society, is running a project to help determine the breeding status and distribution of willow tit in east Glamorgan.  Knowledge suggests the species is uncommon and patchily distributed in our area and its recent national population decline makes it a Red List species.

Glamorgan Bird Club / Welsh Ornithological Society

We intend the findings of this study will inform potential habitat management work and nest box provision. Information on willow tits from the latest BTO Atlas work can be found online.

Getting involved as a survey volunteer

Fieldwork runs from April to December 2018, prioritizing sites with willow tit records in the last 10 years (please refer to map), although records from other areas are welcome. For core sites we are looking for a minimum of 2 visits during the breeding season (at least 1 in each of the periods April to May and June to July), plus at least 2 visits in the post-breeding season, to the end of the year.

More details are found in the Taking Part pages.