Volunteers needed to help monitor willow tits across Staffordshire

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is asking people to join the National Willow Tit Survey to help monitor numbers of willow tit in the county.

Numbers of willow tits are disappearing at an alarming rate in the UK – declining by over 90 per cent since the 1970s. They occupy damp woodland and scrub where they excavate nests in decaying stumps of birch and willow.

The birds are highly sedentary and remain close to their breeding grounds throughout the year, but may occupy large territories. In recent years, numbers have been lost from large areas of southern and eastern England, probably as a result of habitat loss. 

Last year, the Trust were encouraged by numbers of willow tit spotted at four of its reserves, including a nest at Bateswood in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Records from across the county indicate that the species is widespread, though never common.

Jonathan Groom, Monitoring Officer for the Trust, said: “The second and final year of the survey is 2020 so every last effort will help greatly.
"It is vital that we find out more about them so that we can manage our sites for their benefit and look out for any signs of local declines. We also need to cover other areas across the county. This is important as this species can potentially hold large territories and so we need to cover as much ground as possible.

“This is vital survey work and every volunteer that can help will be contributing to an extremely important knowledge base.”

Anyone who may wish to help with surveys in 2020 should email either the County Bird Recorder, Nick Pomiankowski - county staffs-recorder@westmidlandbirdclub.org.uk; or Jonathan Groom at the Trust – j.groom@staffs-wildlife.org.uk. Survey training may be provided on request.