miked's picture

W tit

Observed: 31st January 2010 By: miked
iSpot team
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 MG 6933
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 MG 6950
 MG 6958

All my today's bird pictures taken in 40 mins at one place, vaguely similar to big garden birdwatch (which I can't really do since I live in a flat with no garden)

Species interactions

No interactions present.


dw5448's picture

Hard - maybe willow?

I couldn't decide - bib seems small which would go with Marsh, but there is a lighter section to the wing which fits with Willow. One book suggested that willow did not have glossy cap, which maybe fits but I don't think is a good indicator. I think I would go with Willow based on the 4th photo, but would not be at all confident in this.

You've had a very productive morning - was very impressed with the quality of shots. What kind of camera and lens are you using?


miked's picture

Err well the photos may look

Err well the photos may look reasonable small on screen but I will throw almost all of them out since they are not very sharp, they were just a record of what was in my local wood this morning. The wood is dingy and there is no hide so its just a matter of standing around on the path and waiting for the birds to come. I was hand holding a 100-400mm zoom on a digiSLR and the bits you see are usually just the tiny section in the middle of the picture!
There was another person there too trying to take pictures of birds but he had a shorter zoom and it was on a tripod and I think he had great problems trying to follow the small birds.
When trying for high quality pictures of birds I normally use a hide and spend considerable time working out the best direction of the light and getting there at exactly the right time, there can be lots of wasted trips when the weather forecast is wrong or when the birds don't turn up.

miked's picture

Having thought about my

Having thought about my comment above again it does raise another issue. Should you keep records (i.e. the photos with location, date etc) of all your own observations as this is generally good practice. For all my other observations I have kept the high resolution images with location and date so the recording societies could have the records if they want them even if something happened to iSpot. So I am now wondering whether I should keep all these bird pictures too.

RoyW's picture

Identification - and record submission

(With apologies for the length of reply).

The most reliable feature for seperation of Marsh/Willow Tit is now considered to be the pale spot which 98% of Marsh Tits have on the cutting edge of the upper mandible of the bill ( http://blx1.bto.org/pdf/ringmigration/24_2/broughton1.pdf ).
This feature, along with others were discussed in a longer paper published by R.K.Broughton in British Birds magazine in November 2009. This paper listed five criteria that were considered to have a high level of reliability; 3 vocal difference, the 'bill spot' and a contrast in colour between the white ear coverts and the rear cheek on Marsh Tits (or the lack of this contrast for Willow).
The bill spot is visible on four of these photos, and the rear cheeks are obviously grey-brown in the lower four (+ appear slightly contrasting in the top right photo) - which makes these Marsh Tits.

It is unlikely that recording societies will use ispot as a source of records (recorders give their time voluntarily and generally have little time to search for records!).
I would urge anyone who is out recording birds and other wildlife to find out who their local recorders are and submit records to them directly. A search for a county bird/wildlife society will usually produce a website with a list of recorders who will be able to tell you what records are wanted - and how much detail is needed.
If Marsh Tits are scarce in your area then keeping one or two photos is a good idea in case the recorder wants to confirm the identification. Bird recorders will have a list of species for which notes, or full descriptions, are required - providing proof that the identification is correct helps keep the official record accurate and scientifically relevant.

Roy Woodward (Essex sector bird recorder for London Natural History Society).

miked's picture

Fascinating, thanks very much

Fascinating, thanks very much for that, good to know there is a way of telling between the species visually, I will look more carefully in future.

As far as records go in general on iSpot, it varies between group of organism, at present some recording societies are interested in the records and others are not. The situation may change over time of course.