DURHAM BIRD CLUB

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stevieevans1
Aug 26, 2017

Willow Tits.

4 comments

Edited: Aug 26, 2017

I've enjoyed reading Ross's June 2017 LEK article re WILLOW TITS.

Great little birds & we are lucky to have them in good numbers in lowland / eastern Durham.

 

I don't see any signs of decline in my local area - in fact there has been an increase in territories in recent years - the new woodlands of the great north forest have provided ample new breeding locations away from the typical thorn & elderberry copses & hedgerows.

 

Ive done a desk top study on my local birds - I can guarantee there are more than 50 pairs in NZ34 alone & there are considerable sections I don t know well.

This is a typical nest in an old dying Elderberry - a favoured nest tree - the pithy inner is easy to excavate.

Quite often rotten old scrub like this are some of the first things to be tidied away by conservation working parties.

Standing Deadwood Elders are a magnet for breeding Willow Tit in VC66.

 

If anyone wants to find out more about them, please have a search for Willow Tit specialist, Wayne Parry on Twitter.

 

stevieevans1
Aug 27, 2017

Check of notes.

Willow Tit in NZ34 10KM

(roughly covers Lumley, Seaton, Schincliffe, Shotton area)

 

  • The Best Tetrad (2km X 2km square) holds a dozen pair

  • Four Tetrads here I don't know well - these 4 numbers therefore are minimums ( 3,3,2,1 ) pairs.

  • Includes Two blank Tetrads where I have no WT data.

  • The average per occupied Tetrad = 4.8 pairs

  • Best 1KM square holds a regular 6 breeding pairs.

  • I would be confident in the minimum population in NZ34 currently being 111 breeding pairs.

 

stevieevans1
Aug 28, 2017Edited: Aug 28, 2017

a correspondent in Manchester informs me his best Tetrad holds 16 pairs of Willow Tit

& is confident his 10km square will hold 100+ pairs.

stevieevans1
Sep 1, 2017

More thoughts on our Willow Tit population in response to Ross's recent LEK article June 2017.

Looking carefully, it seems that 300 pairs suggested was an understatement.

 

 

The LEK map has approx. 107 tetrads (2km x 2km squares) marked.

I can add 14 additional tetrads to that from NZ34 alone.

I see no loss of territories, in fact the opposite especially in / around GNForest.

So 107 + 14 = 121

If we assume all known tetrads on June LEK map have the same average as NZ34 (4.8 pairs per tetrad) then, 121 x 4.8 = 580 pairs.

This still leaves huge gaps in key areas......

 

OR looking at it another way:-

 

I feel confident that NZ33 & NZ25 will have similar populations as NZ34 & 24 and round it down to 100 pairs per 10km square = 400pairs#

 

If we cautiously assume the 5 other occupied 10km squares (NZ's 23, 14, 15, 35 & two north sea squares 43/44) hold half the amount then we have another 250pairs#

 

Outside of these ten 10km squares we have another 30 on your map (30x4.8=144#)

 

400 + 250 +144 = 794pairs

 

If the figures hold out, then we could have 20 to 25% of the known UK population (3,400 Musgrove et al 2012) in Co.Durham ? !

 

We all worry about the state of the nations birds...

yet here we have one of the species suffering one of the biggest national declines & WE don't know how many we have.....

 

Surely a VERY strong and timely candidate for a County Survey.........

 

stevieevans1
Sep 1, 2017Edited: Sep 2, 2017

nationally, the Willow Tit is regarded as a bird of damp woodlands.....

 

What about Co.Durham........?

 

In the main, we associate them with mature thorn copses & thickets (many have no association with any wetland).

 

Perhaps the lack of competition from other titmice (taking over nest excavations) in this less wooded habitat is a key factor in them maintaining their populations ? (Blue & Great Tit populations have risen significantly in recent decades & are known to dominate WT from their excavations - sometimes leading to no nest attempt for that pair in that season).

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