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June 18, 2017

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A Marsh Tit builds it's nest

April 5, 2016

 

This lovely spring activity was spotted quite by chance in the oak forests above the southern shores of Lake Lesser Prespa, at around 950m or 3,000ft. As it was an unexpected find you'll have to forgive the camera shaking and heavy breathing! There weren't any convenient stones to place the camera, nor did we have a tripod.

 

We're pretty sure it's a Marsh tit (poecile palustris, formally parus palustris), although there's a chance it could be a Willow tit (poecile montanus), as they are devilishly similar. What do you think?

 

A quick check in the Collins Bird Guide tells us that the Willow tit nests in excavated rotten trunks. So just like this one! The Marsh tit, however, dominates should their territories overlap, and it often nests in tree-holes made by a Willow tit.  Which is a little bit naughty, and should we find this to be the case, then we may go and have a chat with him. In this day and age, one really shouldn't be stealing someone else's home.

 

Turning to it's physical appearance, throughout Europe there are some variations in both species, but generally a Marsh tit should have a glossier head and smaller bib than the Willow tit, and this certainly seems to fit here. The Willow tit has one interesting distinction in that it's secondary feathers can be paler. Is it the light below or does this tit have pale secondaries? It's really tough to say.

 

 

The only real way to distinguish is by their calls, so we'll have to get back there with some proper recording equipment. And we'll post updates when we do.

 

 

 

 

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