Cornwall Willow Tit Survey – Winter 2017-18

The endemic British sub-species of Willow Tit (Poecile montanus kleinschmidt) is in serious trouble; the Breeding Bird survey shows that Willow Tit has the greatest decline of all species in the period 1995-2010. New national bird atlas data (2007-11) shows that the breeding range has contracted significantly. In the first national breeding atlas (1968-72) Willow Tits were found in 1220 10km squares; in the second atlas period (1988-91) there was a decrease to 1200 squares; the new atlas breeding distribution shows them only found in 558 10km squares.

Due to the alarming decline and increasingly fragmented distribution there is a need to accurately determine Willow Tit distribution across Cornwall to make this information available to relevant conservation organisations to stimulate and guide Willow Tit conservation.

We are looking to survey the 48 sites (as per the interactive map below) at which Willow Tit has been recorded since 2000, using a methodology developed by the DBWPS (Devon Birds) and partners in 2015. The survey will run over the next two late winter periods (January – March 2017 and again January – March 2018) when birds are territorially active, but not breeding. The survey is being actively supported by RSPB, with significant input from Natural England and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Meeth WillowTit (Laurence Allnatt) 14.1.17Photo by Laurence Allnatt

Survey Method

In brief, this will involve completing two transect walks (roughly two weeks apart) within the tetrad chosen, using playback (mp3 call file provided) of calls with a short two minute ‘listening period’ at roughly 100m intervals in which to ascertain any Willow Tit response. Basic habitat monitoring (optional photographic recording) at each listening station to be carried out, and responding Marsh Tit wall also be recorded. This should give a better indication of Willow Tit presence using tailored methods than the more general approach to bird recording in the latest Atlas would have given.

The aim is to get the survey off and running this year; unfortunately this is quite short notice, but given that the species is in such dire straits and to try and coincide with the Devon survey it is better to start this year if possible rather than delay.

If you can help please contact the survey team (surveys@cbwps.org.uk) to request a tetrad/tetrads or for further information.

It would also be helpful if you could contact us if you know of any current or historic sites for Willow Tit in the county that have not been shown on the map below. Also while doing your surveys, please keep an eye out for suitable habitat near to your allocated tetrad and let us know. There is every likelihood that Willow Tit are under-reported! Finally, if you know the landowners of any of the sites, please let us have contact details, as this will speed up sorting out permission for access where required.

Recent sites where Willow Tit has been recorded.

Pin Colour – Red = tetrad taken, Blue = tetrad available.

Please select an available 1km square (shown above in blue) and contact Dave Parker from the survey team (surveys@cbwps.org.uk) to be allocated this site. Confirmation will be sent by e-mail along with an MP3 sound file for use in the survey. See Detailed Survey Method below.

Please click the links below for full methodology and ID resources:

Detailed Survey Method <

> ID Resources <

> Health & Safety/Risk Assessments <

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