Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Winter Willow Tits

It has been a busy five months since I started on the Willow Tit project back in August. Winter is where the bulk of our work takes place, as it provides opportunity for habitat works outside the breeding season. It is also the time when Willow Tits are fairly active, stocking up on food and energy before they start looking for territories in January - February.

In November, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust started enhancing habitat on one of our landowner sites in Barnsley, where we have targeted areas of maturing wet woodland. By reducing the canopy and thinning the woodland out, we are allowing more sunlight into the wood, increasing the shrub and ground layer and creating the ideal habitat structure for Willow Tits to feed and forage in the undergrowth. By leaving nest stumps and installing nest boxes, we hope to increase the opportunity for nest sites, lowering competition with Blue Tits and Great Tits.

Some really exciting news is that our Project Assistant, Vivien, colour-ringed her first Willow Tits at Carlton Marsh Nature Reserve and Old Moor in November, and will be radio tracking their movements across the landscape in the New Year. Sightings of colour-ringed Willow Tits in the Dearne Valley can be sent to willowtit.bftb@gmail.com, or you could get in touch through social media and the website.

On the 7th December we held a Willow Tit Summit at Old Moor, where experts from the north-west came together and discussed management techniques, monitoring and habitat interventions. We had a great turn-out, with representatives from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Barnsley Council, Doncaster Council, Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, Barnsley Bird Study Group as well as ecologists and surveyors across the region. This collaborative approach allows a bigger, better, joined-up approach to landscape-scale conservation, and will ultimately enable us to work consistently across a larger region to create better conditions for Willow Tits.

In the New Year we have some exciting events and volunteering opportunities coming up, including a Willow Tit survey training event. We hope to get a regular practical volunteering group set up, and there will be opportunities to volunteer with colour ringing and radio tracking. Get in touch via the website or social media, where you can now join our Back from the Brink Willow Tit Facebook page!

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year folks - here’s to an exciting 2018!

 

Sophie Pinder

Project Officer.

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