Marsh and Willow Tit Study

Members may be interested to learn that the Society is supporting a new initiative to study Marsh and Willow Tits in the Wensum Valley. The study is being led by the Norfolk Ornithologists Association and will last for five years.

The help of members is required to make it a success.

The two species have undergone severe population declines nationally in the last 25 years and are red listed (threatened). The study is an opportunity to find out more about the factors contributing to their decline.

The NOA has devised this study which will separate the two species and record their movements, longevity and productivity. It is also designed to assess how successfully the two species are being identified in the field.

How you can help.
Marsh and Willow Tits will be distinguished by placing one of two different colours on the right leg of each bird (above a metal BTO ring); one colour for Marsh and one colour for Willow Tit. Birds of both species will then be identified as individuals by a combination of two colours on the left leg. However, if observers cannot see all the colour rings on a bird, the colour of the ring on the right leg is most important and should always be reported. Some perseverence may be required. Records of colour rings on unidentified Marsh/Willow Tits are equally valuable.

It is hoped that Society members will get involved and report any colour ringed Marsh or Willow Tits that they see. Recording sheets are currently available in the hides at NOA reserve at Hempton Marsh and the Hawk and Owl Trust reserve at Sculthorpe Moor. They give recorders the opportunity to identify the species or leave it unspecified so don’t worry if you are not confident about separating the two (you are not alone!). There are columns for the colour of the ring on the right leg and the two on the left leg, together with the date the bird was seen.

Instructions on where to submit your records are given on the forms or phone the Holme Observatory on 01485 525406 with your sightings or for more information about the study.

Alwyn Jackson

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