Thursday, 16 November 2017

A lack of Marsh Tits

This morning I spent at least three hours roaming the woodland that is draped across Gatton Park, Reigate Hill and Colley Hill. It was exceedingly quiet, save for a flock of 75 Redwings. There were times when I could stand still and fail to see or hear a single bird. Most worrying was the lack of Marsh Tits. It is close on five years since I have recorded one in this general area. Come to think of it, my last few visits to nearby Walton Heath has failed to turn up this tit either. Maybe its local range is contracting - seemingly lost from Banstead Woods, possibly going that way in the Reigate area, hard to come by at Walton Heath... but it's not all doom and gloom. The small populations in Great Hurst and Little Hurst Wood are hanging on (albeit becoming quite isolated) and it remains quite common at Headley Heath, Mickleham and Box Hill.

I have to remind myself that when I first started birding in these places back in the mid 1970s, Willow Tits were quite easy to come by. It would be quite upsetting if the Marsh Tit went the same way.

5 comments:

Dylan Wrathall said...

Steve,
I can recall a time when Willow Tits were regularly seen along the banks of The Grand Union Canal between Hemel and Tring - that was in the early 80's. That Marsh Tits might be headed down the route is a little worrying, yet there will be no losers without winners? Little/Great White & Cattle Egret, Cetti's Warbler, Raven & Buzzard were all "twitched" when I lived in Herts - wouldn't cross the road to see one today! - times they are a changing - Dyl

Steve Gale said...

That's very true Dyl. The Marsh Tit decline is puzzling here - no real obvious reasons why, it seems stable in similar habitat to where it has gone missing...

Gibster said...

Have to say, I'm just not jaded to the point where I wouldn't cross the road for a Cattle or Great White Egret. Mind you, I have White-tailed and Golden Eagles overhead most days, swings and roundabouts I guess? And yes, I'd still cross the road for any eagle!

Gibster said...
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Dylan Wrathall said...

Seth,
That "I wouldn't cross the road" comment is more a statement of my personal stance, not an attempt to belittle such birds. Eagles? I've seen plenty but wouldn't turn down the sighting of another - Dyl