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This post has been on my list of things to do since the summer….

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I love all Britain’s tits: they’re almost all tiny and very sweet, often cheeky, always entertaining, occasionally rather tame, and frequently friendly. Though less colourful than its cousins the Great and Blue, I think the Coal tit (Periparus ater) is a very handsome bird. It tends to be more timid than its cousins as well, but will feed from garden peanut feeders and often joins its fellow tits in large flocks that move together through gardens, parks and areas of woodland looking for the seeds and insects they like to eat.

I was very lucky earlier this year to be alerted by my fellow members of the Glamorgan Bird Club to the presence of a pair of Marsh tits (Poecile palustris) in the woodland of a local country park. These birds look very similar to Coal tits (and, apparently, also to Willow tits, which I have not yet seen) but can easily be told apart by a look at the tops of their heads. The Coal tit (above left) has a white cap on top of its head, whereas the Marsh tit (above right) does not.

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I was particularly delighted to see the Marsh tits as, sadly, their population has undergone a dramatic decline of at least 50% in the past 25 years so they are now considered globally threatened and have been added to the Red List of endangered creatures. Although they can be found throughout England and Wales, they are more often seen in the southern parts of both countries. They will feed from garden bird feeders so, if you live in the south and have the space for a feeder, do please help out these little birds with regular supplies of seeds and nuts.

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