WASHINGTON Wetland Centre staff recently celebrated the successful hatching and fledging of the UK’s fastest declining resident bird species.
Seven red-listed willow tit, which left the nest in May, are the offspring of a pair which were ringed at the town’s WWT centre last winter, as part of an ongoing species recovery research project.
After tracking the movements of the male and female as they searched for nesting spots in early spring, wardens were eventually able to set up a camera at the nesting chamber.
Eight willow tit eggs were discovered and seven went on to hatch and fledge, marking the first big milestone in the project, aimed at conserving Washington’s current population while learning more about the species.
The study also aims to estimate the current local population size, identify key existing nest sites and establish new ones, understand the reasons behind nest failure and gauging the abundance of nearby competitor species.
One of the keys to the project’s success so far has been the Citizen Science element, where members of the public can report sightings on site and in the surrounding area.
The project is also trialling a number of new bespoke nest box designs – both for willow tit and other competitor species – to see if they have an impact on nesting success.
WWT Washington’s reserve placement student Emily Chubb led a group of volunteers to help build some of the boxes.
“It has been a really exciting part of my placement to get involved with the willow tit project,” she said.
“Using knowledge about areas that are preferable to willow tits, as well as our own sightings, we put out many of our boxes in strategic places across site.
“These were then checked and monitored with camera traps, and seeing some interest from willow tits in the boxes we built over the following months was very rewarding.”