Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

A peek into the life of a Willow Tit volunteer

 

I am a student gaining work experience with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as a volunteer, and have been working on the Back from the Brink Willow Tit project for a month now.

When I first inquired about what projects I could get involved in I was optimistic with what I could do, but was not expecting to be able to take part in such an interesting project.

After a bit of research and a crash course on Willow Tits I was intrigued about these elusive birds and eager to get stuck in.
On my first day of volunteering Sophie, the Project Officer, and I went to Dearne Valley Country Park – an urban woodland park just a short walk from Barnsley town centre. The park is amazingly full of wet woodland areas, which the birds prefer, and we spent the morning maintaining the key elements.
Taking off branches encourages brambles to grow which the Willow Tit uses to feed and hide in - we also cleared away a fallen tree in the pond meaning hopefully more pond life can thrive without obstruction. This involved using bow saws and lugging branches away, it was embarrassingly the most exercise I had partaken in in a while!

After lunch there was the less strenuous job of putting up nest boxes. As the Willow Tits hollow out their own holes within rotting trees, we filled the nest boxes with tightly packed sawdust (whilst getting hailed on - ah British springtime!), hoping that this was enough to mimic their natural behaviour.
Within an area of about an acre we put up four, all approximately 1.5m off the ground as they like to nest closer to the ground away from predators. We put some nearer the water and some further into the woodland, hoping that at least one will take their fancy! As well as nest boxes we strapped a rotting silver birch log onto a living tree. We are hoping that if the nest boxes do not attract the birds then this log will allow them to excavate their own nesting hole, as it is more what they would naturally target to build a nest.

I am learning many skills relevant to a career within the conservation sector but at the moment my main aim is now to see a Willow Tit, or even hearing one would be nice!

 

Maddie Heath-Sargent
Willow Tit Project Volunteer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Donate now