TV crews flock to see our birds
IT’S been pretty exciting in the Lancashire Wildlife Trust offices recently with the arrival of various television crews and some high profile exposure.
Writing this column is the favourite bit of my job, sharing my thoughts and experiences with my fellow north westerners, and giving a bit of publicity to some of our lesser-known creatures and plants.
However, it is nice to get a bit of national recognition and to see Wigan’s wonderful willow tits on Countryfile was very special indeed.
Over the coming months our red squirrels are going to get into the spotlight and don’t be surprised if you see us burying recycled Christmas trees on the dunes while you are eating your breakfast over the festive season.
TV crews tend to be lovely people and that makes it easier to be involved in the artistic process of creating a nature item on a TV show, both nationally and regionally.
The Countryfile team spent a day with us in Wigan and everyone who met them was impressed with their attitude and professionalism.
And when the crews turn up you get to meet the stars of the show like Ellie Harrison, John Craven, Bill Oddie, Dan Snow, Julia Bradbury and Tom Heap – Tom was completely passionate about our work on the Manchester mosslands and dubbed them ‘Britain’s rain forests’.
Our stars are our reserve officers and volunteers who are creating habitats for the wonderful wildlife we have in the region. The willow tit story is that we have 10 per cent of the entire UK population in this region and the birds have seen numbers plummet more than any other wild bird in the country.
Willow tits are striking birds, different from other tits because they have a lovely fawn flash under their wings.
They are fairly solitary in spring and summer but, at this time of year, they will be found feeding among other groups of small birds and you may see them on your bird table if you live close to willow woods.
As our Wigan projects officer Mark Champion pointed out, willow tit habitat has decreased because willow scrub is not the prettiest woodland.
Some conservationists make a point of clearing such areas so the willow tits are left homeless.
They also dig their own nests in rotting wood so you wouldn’t expect a lot of people to be keeping wood in this condition.
The Wildlife Trust does, in fact we actively cut down some trees so we can attach a log to another tree allowing it to rot.
This creates the perfect nesting sites for the birds.
Wigan now has its ‘national’ bird and we have a story of national as well as local significance.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070.
To become a member of the Trust go to lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.
A willow tit feeding its young in a nest at Wigan Flashes