2020 Willow Tit Survey

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The decline of the Willow Tit is well known. It is our most threatened resident bird having declined by 95% since the mid 70s. As  an endemic race, the British Willow Tit is indigenous to Britain and found nowhere else. Its disappearance would be a slap in the face for all British conservationists.  We've been charting the decline year by year in the Lincolnshire Bird Report and it has accelerated over the last 5 years.

The RSPB recognising that they need to step in and do more to prevent the extinction of this species started a national survey in 2019 which will continue into 2020. Knowing exactly where Willow Tits have been and are now is crucial to understanding how they might be saved. We will be supporting the RSPB by following their methodology and surveying the tetrad squares they have identified as worthy of checking. Some of these squares almost certainly no longer hold birds but have done over the last 20 years or so. Negative results are useful as well as positive ones so please check squares near you even if you are pretty certain there are no Willow Tits present.

The methodology requires a visit to suitable habitat in each tetrad twice during mid February to mid April and the use of playback to determine if Willow Tits are present.  Suitable habitat in Lincs can include any damp scrubby woodland particularly close to water courses and on the site of old sand, gravel and clay pits. Trees especially attractive to them include willow, birch, hawthorn and elder.

Full instructions can be downloaded here.

The recording form is available here.

The recording to be used for playback can be downloaded here.

As Marsh Tits and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers also occur in similar habitats to Willow Tits in some areas, please remember that these species are also a rare breeding bird. Therefore we ask that observers ensure that any sightings are reported to the county recorder or logged via BirdTrack.

Some initial work has been done at well known sites in the county. The table below lists all squares which have yet to receive any coverage, 67 in all.  Please note the “general location” in the table is to give you an indication of the area the tetrad is in. It does not mean Willow Tits have been recently recorded at that site name.  To decide exactly where you will visit you will need to use your experience, knowledge of the terrain and rights of access available to you.  If you could identify squares you should be able to cover please email Phil Espin to register your interest on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and he will co-ordinate to avoid duplication of effort and ensure we get a broad coverage across the sample area. Completed recorded forms should be sent to him and he will pass them on to RSPB.

If you have any questions at all please call him on 07966 325380.

Willow Tit Survey 2020: Tetrads Requiring coverage

Square

Tetrad (s)

General Location

 

Square

Tetrad (s)

General Location

             
 

North West

     

Central (cont'd)

 
             

SE70

M

Wroot

 

TF14

R

Heckington

SE71

Q

Crowle

 

TF15

K,

Billinghay

SE80

K,

Scunthorpe SW

 

TF17

H, S, Y

Bardney Forest

SE90

G, D, Y

Scunthorpe SE

 

TF18

V

Market Rasen

SE91

D,

Scunthorpe NE

 

TF19

C, D,

Walesby

SK89

G, H

Gainsborough

       

SK99

H

Kirton in Lindsey

   

East

 

TA01

A, B

Elsham

       
       

TF25

I

Coningsby

 

North East

   

TF26

N, T

Horncastle

       

TF35

J, N

Stickney

TA10

R

Caistor

 

TF36

U, Z, V

Old Bolingbroke

TA30

G

Tetney Lock

 

TF37

S, W

Tetford

       

TF38

B, D, M

Louth

 

West

   

TF39

P

Covehham

       

TF47

H

Alford

SK87

L, Z

Newton on Trent

       

SK88

L, R

Marton

   

South West

 

SK96

F, I

North Hykeham

       

SK97

V, X

Lincoln

 

SK84

N

Claypole

       

SK93

Q, S

Grantham

 

Central

   

SK94

J, V

Ancaster

       

TF01

C

Bourne SW

TF06

T

Branston

 

TF02

K, M, T, U

Bourne NW

TF07

I, M

Sudbrooke

 

TF03

Q, Y

Threekingham

TF08

A

Toft Newton

 

TF05

G, Q, T

Ruskington

TF09

F, K, S

Thornton le Moor

       

For those unfamiliar with the tetrad system a good description can be found at p35 of Bird Atlas 2007 – 11. In brief, the Ordnance survey divides the British Isles into 10 km squares each of which has it 's own unique number based on the grid system shown on it's maps.  A tetrad is a 2km x 2km square and each 10 km square contains 25 of them. Each tetrad is  uniquely lettered A to Z on a fixed system. The letter O being omitted to avoid confusion.  To identify the square you choose to survey it is therefore essential to refer to the correct OS map. If you have any difficulty with this please call Phil Espin.

Good hunting!

Background Information

This map shows the recent distribution of willow tits in Britain, shown by: occupied tetrads from the past from the 2007-11 Bird Atlas and other more recent records (red); remaining tetrads from the occupied 10km squares from the 2007-11 Bird Atlas and other more recent records (blue); ‘historical’ occupied 10km squares from the 1988-91 Bird Atlas (orange).

This map shows the sample survey tetrads in England, Wales and Scotland, highlighting the tetrads that have been surveyed in 2019 (red squares – Willow Tits recorded; blue squares – no Willow Tits).




About Us

We are the Lincolnshire Bird Club

Our aims are to encourage and further the interest in the birdlife of the historic County of Lincolnshire; to participate in organised fieldwork activities; to collect and publish information on bird movements, behaviour, distribution and populations; to encourage conservation of the wildlife of the County and to provide sound information on which conservation policies can be based.