Volunteers needed to help monitor willow tits for National Survey

Following on from last year, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is continuing its work to monitor numbers of willow tits across its nature reserves.

These surveys will also tie in with a national willow tit survey led by the RSPB and being coordinated locally by the West Midlands Bird Club.

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.

Jonathan Groom, Monitoring Officer for the Trust, said: “Willow tits are not well recorded as they are elusive and generally found at low population densities.

“We have records from several Wildlife Trust reserves, but we know little about how many there are or how they are using our sites. 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. As part of the national survey we are also covering land immediately adjacent to some reserves where there is potentially good habitat. This is important as this species can potentially hold large territories.

“The national survey is designed to try and get an accurate picture of how many willow tits are left in the UK and where they are. They are often overlooked by more traditional survey methods and so a special effort is required. Volunteers are urgently needed as Staffordshire appears to hold a significant number of these birds still and there are a lot of areas to survey.”

The surveys will mostly take place during March and into early April and would require at least two visits to a site during the morning during fine weather.

Anyone wishing to participate in the national willow tit survey in Staffordshire should contact the Simon Wotton at the RSPB at Simon.Wotton@rspb.org.uk.

Pic by Adam Jones