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.
Our 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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 (email@example.com). The RSPB have produced a leaflet giving some details of how the survey will operate – please have a look at it here.