Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is asking for volunteers to come forward to help carry out surveys on its sites to help monitor numbers of the fastest declining bird species in the UK.

The charity is hoping people will join one of its surveys to help find willow tits on its Hem Heath, Loynton Moss, Parrot’s Drumble, Jackson’s Marsh and Coppice and Bateswood nature reserves.

Numbers of willow tits are disappearing at an alarming rate in the UK – declining by over 90 per cent since the 1970s. They have disappeared from much of their former range in the south, but thankfully they still appear to be quite widespread in the West Midlands. They occupy damp woodland and scrub where they excavate nests in decaying stumps of birch and willow.

Jonathan Groom, Monitoring Officer for the Trust, said: “Willow tits are not well recorded as they are elusive and generally found at low population densities.

“We have records from several Wildlife Trust reserves, but we know little about how many there are or how they are using our sites. It is vital that we find out more about them so that we can manage our sites for their benefit and look out for any signs of local declines.

“There are many local projects springing up across the UK and as a result, specific survey methods have been developed for willow tit which we will be using together with searches for nesting sites so that we can try and monitor their breeding success.

“If we find them we may also be able to trial some site management techniques to ensure that there is enough deadwood and foraging habitat for them. We will also contribute our findings to national study groups where we can share our experiences and learn from other projects.”

The surveys will mostly take place during March and would require at least two visits to a site during the morning – but there is also scope for more follow up work with more regular visits to the sites throughout April.

Anyone interested in taking part in the willow tit survey should email Jonathan Groom – j.groom@staffs-wildlife.org.uk