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Old Monday 9th March 2015, 06:22   #1
Swindon Addick
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Marsh Tit / Willow Tit, UK (Greater Manchester)

A couple of birds for your entertainment. I was at Pennington Flash, a site which is well known (and very easy) for willow tit but where marsh tit is very rarely seen. I'd been watching willow tits through binoculars, getting good enough views to be certain they didn't have any sort of white spot on their bills.

I didn't notice anything different about this bird at the time, but there's a hint of marsh about it and I'd like to hear people's views.
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Old Monday 9th March 2015, 06:24   #2
KGS
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Willow Tit. Large head and fairly obvious wing panel
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Old Monday 9th March 2015, 06:25   #3
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For comparison, here's the only other individual I took photos of. Looks like a willow tit to me, but from one angle there's a hint of a white spot which I suspect is a trick of the light.
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Old Monday 9th March 2015, 07:24   #4
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Agree with KGS, the wing panel makes it a Willow Tit.


Shane
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Old Monday 9th March 2015, 08:45   #5
Andy Hurley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swindon Addick View Post
For comparison, here's the only other individual I took photos of. Looks like a willow tit to me, but from one angle there's a hint of a white spot which I suspect is a trick of the light.
I agree with Willow.
But not because of one feature, its the fact that it has several pro Willow features. Clean white cheek with no contrast to neck sides, tiny bib, visible contrast shows a clear wing panel, large head.
With just one or two pro Willow features, but also pro Marsh features, it becomes more difficult.
The proximal spot is a pretty good indicator for Marsh, but quite clearly,as in this case, it can be reflection/artefact, so caution should be used when relying on just one solitary photo.
I'm far from expert, being relatively new to birding, but I think it is safe to say, that if several features point to A and few or none point to B, then it pretty safe to assume it's A.
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Old Monday 9th March 2015, 12:28   #6
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Nailed on Willow Tit

cheers, alan
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Old Monday 9th March 2015, 12:29   #7
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btw, you often get a "pale glint" off the bill on Willow Tit, in exactly the same spot as the true pale spot on Marsh Tit. IMO this feature must be used with extreme caution!

chers, alan
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 06:00   #8
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Thanks everyone.
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 12:39   #9
Jamie Dunning
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A marsh tit would be a very good record for Pennington or anywhere in GM for that matter - Willow tits are well established in that area.
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 18:37   #10
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The clinching feature on an adult Willow Tit are the brown nasal hairs which can be seen on both sets of photos, Marsh Tits always have black nasal hairs - not a lot of people know that
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Old Tuesday 10th March 2015, 19:27   #11
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On recently fledged Willow Tits the nasal hairs are black as you can see but by around September they have turned brown, as shown on this re trapped example
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Old Thursday 26th March 2015, 06:41   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashley banwell View Post
The clinching feature on an adult Willow Tit are the brown nasal hairs which can be seen on both sets of photos, Marsh Tits always have black nasal hairs - not a lot of people know that
Really interesting new feature Ashley! Would be interested to know how robust you think this should be, and whether there's any overlap or variation (other than young Willows being black as you've already said).

Last weekend I watched a few Marsh Tits - at least I believe they were all Marsh Tits - and one or two seem to have very slight brownish tones to the bristles. Not as clear as in your photos by any means, but browner than the black cap.

Have a look and see what you think: http://gobirdingeu.blogspot.co.uk/20...arsh-tits.html

Cheers,
Dave
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Old Thursday 26th March 2015, 08:08   #13
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Another overlapping feature.....mmmmm!
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Old Wednesday 8th April 2015, 18:42   #14
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Dave, thanks for taking an interest in this feature which so far has seemed to be OK based on my population and recent observations. Willow Tit is a species which I previously gave little attention too and almost slipped away before I really knew much about them. Your photo 5 does give me some cause for concern as it does show some features of Willow, if I had just been shown this picture without knowing where it was taken I could lean towards it being a Willow (but I still think its a Marsh) . Willow of cause may still be around Lynford, I have never heard one and I do go there very regularly but of cause that means nothing as they can be very hard to detect even where I know they are. Photo 5 also shows a dull crown and very buffy underparts but thats just the effect of the light I think - both which would be OK for a Willow. The white mark on the bill is as we know a feature of Marsh, I have seen it on only 1 of the 33 Willow's I have ringed so far, all of the adult Willows have had brown nasal hairs and all the Marsh have shown black. I will attach some photos to either help or confuse the issue.

Photo 1 Marsh in the hand
Photo 2 Marsh left and Willow right
Photo 3 Willow tail - showing the different feather lengths - another feature

http://www.bto.org/sites/default/fil...separating.pdf

Photo 4 - crap photo but it does show well the difference in the underpart colour

Photo 5 Willow Tit - but from photo you cannot see the brown nasal hairs

So overall I am still happy that Willow Tits show 'chocolate' brown nasal hairs and so far in my experience Marsh have black. Of course I would be interested to see some more photos especially in the hand to help prove it one way or the other.

Cheers
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Last edited by ashley banwell : Wednesday 8th April 2015 at 20:09.
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Old Wednesday 8th April 2015, 22:04   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Appleton View Post
Really interesting new feature Ashley! Would be interested to know how robust you think this should be, and whether there's any overlap or variation (other than young Willows being black as you've already said).

Last weekend I watched a few Marsh Tits - at least I believe they were all Marsh Tits - and one or two seem to have very slight brownish tones to the bristles. Not as clear as in your photos by any means, but browner than the black cap.

Have a look and see what you think: http://gobirdingeu.blogspot.co.uk/20...arsh-tits.html

Cheers,
Dave
Can't respond on your blog post as it doesn't accept anon comments. One other possibility to bear in mind, is if a tit (either species) has been feeding on flowers or catkins with brownish pollen which could change the colour of the nasal bristles.
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Old Thursday 9th April 2015, 16:27   #16
ashley banwell
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Can't respond on your blog post as it doesn't accept anon comments. One other possibility to bear in mind, is if a tit (either species) has been feeding on flowers or catkins with brownish pollen which could change the colour of the nasal bristles.
Not a chance, neither feed on pollen/catkins/flowers as well as this feature being present in the winter.
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Old Thursday 9th April 2015, 21:54   #17
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Not a chance, neither feed on pollen/catkins/flowers as well as this feature being present in the winter.
Thanks, though I was referring specifically to DA's notes from last weekend.

I'd be surprised if they never feed in catkins, as there's plenty of insects get attracted to catkins and the tits could be looking for them.
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