Marsh or Willow Tit

Fantastic reading on the ID of Willow and Marsh Tits, birds I personally find really difficult to ID without clear photos. I haven’t as of yet learnt the calls but the more you hear and can visually ID the easier it is to place calls to birds.

Birding Frontiers

and other fine ‘garden birds’

Nice one- all almost all who had declared were right: it was a Marsh Tit. One of at least 2 coming to feeders right outside the kitchen window of our accommodation at Minsmere RSPB reserve (9-11 March). Good chance to check the features, and much discussed was the ‘new’ feature of pale spot at the base of the bill. This feature was very obvious on one and often hard to see on the other. Willow Tits have an all black bill with no pale bill spot. They called a fair bit and neither had an obvious pale panel over the secondaries as often seen on Willow Tit.

The ‘white spot’ feature…

… seems to be percolating through British birder consciousness. Some of us in the cottage new about it and others didn’t. In a nutshell: Marsh Tits have it, Willow Tits don’t. Aside of the white spot, Richard Broughtons’ studyplaces calls and song, and cheek pattern as the most reliable features for separating these 2 tricky species.

Marsh…

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Norra Järvafältet

Today Alan Dalton and I made our way to Norra Järvafältet but at the top/back side, I had never been there before and thought the whole trip was quite interesting. We started off at a place called Ravalen, carefully searching for a resident Tawny Owl that had been seen the day before in it’s usual hole with no luck. We then moved towards the winter feeding station this time checking for a female Brambling that has been there all winter but again no luck. Plenty of winter birds around though, Siskin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Yellowhammer, Bullfinch and Blackbird.

We then moved off in search of Hawfinch but no real luck there. From there we made our way to Fäboda in Norra Järvafältet to another winter feeding station, a good 20 minutes walk from Ravalen.

Nuthatch - Common all around feeders in the winter.

The main birds we both were aiming for was Crested Tit and Hawfinch.
Hawfinch were around but not visible, eventually I managed to catch my eye on one flying away from the tops of the trees. Then 2 Willow Tits feeding within 5 minutes of arriving and were still present when we left.

Willow Tit

1 of the 2 birds in the area

A single Crested Tit made a brief appearance before disappearing in to the forest, 3 Long-tailed Tits were also coming back and forth and I got what I consider my best photos of the species yet. Other birds around the feeder were Blue Tit, Great Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Siskin and Blackbird.

1 of 3 birds

On the way back we had a great view of a Green Woodpecker and at least 20 Fieldfare.

Not a too bad few hours even if it took the same time in travelling to get there. Off to the Eagle Owl now for what proved to be a fantastic finish to the day 🙂

photos and video coming soon…