Charity encouraged by willow tit numbers

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has been encouraged by several sightings of the red-listed willow tit across its reserves in 2019.

The willow tit is the second-fastest declining breeding species in the UK, after the turtle dove, and is a huge priority for conservation.

The birds are highly sedentary and remain close to their breeding grounds throughout the year. In recent years, numbers have been lost from large areas of the country.

The Trust has been carrying out surveys of willow tits across a number of its sites, linked in with the national survey being organised by the RSPB, and locally by the Staffordshire County Bird Recorder.

The Trust’s Monitoring Officer, Jonathan Groom and several volunteers surveyed Trust reserves and expanded the surveys to cover the surrounding areas.

He said: “In total, suitable habitat in 13 tetrads (2x2km squares), a total of 52 square kilometres, were covered and this included seven Trust reserves.

“Willow tit were found in seven of these tetrads and in four reserves. Excitingly, we discovered a nest at our Bateswood reserve which successfully fledged young and also sighted them at Thorswood, a reserve which did not have a dedicated survey. This is all very encouraging news and we hope to continue this vital survey work next year.”

Anyone who may wish to help with upcoming surveys should email Jonathan Groom at the Trust – j.groom@staffs-wildlife.org.uk