TV crews flock to see our birds

Stockport Times West - - WILDLIFE -

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.

Peter Smith

A wil­low tit feed­ing its young in a nest at Wi­gan Flashes

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