The Cornwall Willow Tit Task Force – Training Day

Willow Tits, since 1970, have seen a population decline of 94% in Britain and have earned the unenviable title of Britain’s fastest declining resident bird. A collaborative project led by CBWPS and the University of Exeter has been launched, seeking to combine sound science and expert local knowledge to find practical solutions to bolster the species in Cornwall.

There’s a lot to do but we’re off to a flying start, with a pot of funding already secured for enhancing habitat at Goss Moor national nature reserve.

The Project

Headed up by CBWPS Vice-Chair, Pete Roseveare and University of Exeter PhD student, Daveron Smith we are working with partners in Cornwall to collaboratively co-design and deliver landscape-scale initiatives that benefit both Willow Tits and the people that live and work in the landscape. By:

  • Building relationships with local & national partners to better understand the species’ ecology
  • Co-designing interventions, underpinned by scientific evidence, that are mostly likely to help this species, accounting for real-world constraints & opportunities
  • Working in partnership with local land managers to drive changes in land management, leveraging nature recovery funding streams where available.
  • Co-developing a monitoring framework and platform to measure and share the success of interventions

Why Cornwall?

The natural environment in Cornwall is at the core of our identity and heritage, and the region is globally renowned for its beautiful land and seascapes and their unique history. However, its nature is highly fragile and not as healthy as it might seem. Nearly half of our breeding birds have declined, and several have already gone extinct. Work to help reverse these declines needs to begin now.

Why Willow Tits?

Our endemic subspecies of Willow Tit (Poecile montanus kleinschmidt) is Britain’s fastest declining resident bird, and within Cornwall is precipitously close to extinction. There is an urgent need to change the management of habitats, at landscape scale, to prevent this. With specific habitat requirements, a fragmented distribution and an aversion to dispersing over large expanses of open terrain, the species also presents an opportunity to consider more generally how landscape scale conservation can and should be carried-out. Such interventions are likely to bring about positive change for a range of other species and ecosystem services.

Willow Tit ‘Task Force’

We are well on our way to establishing a ‘Task Force’ of birders, land managers and conservation bodies to ensure Willow Tits, people and other species, see beneficial outcomes through this project. We have managed to leverage this so far to unlock funding for habitat works on Goss Moor which CBWPS will help to shape.

What next?

Habitat survey is ongoing – drawing upon RSPB methodology in Willow Tit habitat assessment we are also collating existing datasets and working with licenced bird ringers and other partners, to acquire insights into the ecology of the species locally and identify knowledge gaps.

Long-running survey effort, beginning this winter, will develop our understanding of the distribution of Willow Tits in Cornwall. CBWPS members are uniquely placed to help us with this effort and, over the coming months, we would be very interested in hearing from people that would be prepared to carry out some Willow Tit survey at locations throughout Cornwall, including well known strongholds and areas the species historically frequented.

What does this project offer for you?

For a birder, this group can:

  • Use your skills to inform a large-scale project that will benefit Willow Tits in your area
  • Give you the opportunity to work alongside researchers and conservation organisations to guide local conservation actions
  • Provide training and upskilling for our standardised Willow Tit Survey method
  • Provide targeted survey focus in the winter to early spring period

We will be hosting training on December the 2nd where we will delve into the methodology and recording in greater detail.

If you would be interested in coming along to the training and undertaking field surveys this winter, please contact Pete Roseveare and Daveron Smith using [email protected] or drop Pete a call using 07955216836 after 5pm and he will happily provide further information.

Tamar Estuary Bird and Wildlife Cruise

Bird & Wildlife Cruise

Join Plymouth Boat Trips and Vice-Chair, Pete Roseveare on a new Bird Watching Cruise to see and learn about the many birds that migrate to the River Tamar and River Lynher during the autumn and winter months.

Travelling the River Tamar and River Lynher, which are known for wintering wildfowl and many waders. Where we hope to see Shelduck, Wigeon, Curlew, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, the stunning Avocets and hopefully we are fortunate to also see Spoonbills.

Commentary will be provided by Pete Roseveare to give you the opportunity to improve your bird identification skills and learn about the ecology of the birds and the river.

Tickets include a hot Tea or Coffee and Steak Cornish Pasty.

Adults: £20.00 (Adults 16+)

For more details and to book please visit: Plymouth Boat Trips

British Wildlife & Conservation Day at the Screech Owl Sanctuary

On the 30th of September Screech Owl Sanctuary will be hosting their annual Wildlife day and will be joined by a range of local wildlife groups for a unique opportunity (at no extra cost to entry) to learn more about British Wildlife & Conservation.

Some of the groups attending on the day include:

• Cornwall Birdwatching & Preservation Society
• British Trust for Ornithology – Ringing Group
• British Trust for Ornithology – Cornwall
• Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust
• British Divers Marine Life Rescue
• National Lobster Hatchery
• Cornwall Butterfly Conservation
• Cornwall Reptile & Amphibian Group
• Cornwall Bat Group

There will also be a quiz, pond dipping and face painting as well as many other activities to get involved with.

There will also be a reduced entry fee on the day of £8 per person (for any aged 3 years and over)

Marsh Harriers successfully breed at Walmsley Reserve

Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) are delighted to announce that a pair of Marsh Harriers have successfully bred on our Walmsley Sanctuary reserve; raising three young which fledged this weekend.

There are very few breeding records of this species in the county, and this is the first in North Cornwall. It is a sure sign that the careful habitat management carried out by reserve warden, Adrian Langdon, his dedicated team of volunteers and our partners at Cornwall Wildlife Trust are paying off and we would like to thank them for all of their hard work.

We would also like to thank our members and Walmsley visitors for their understanding whilst we withheld records of these marvellous raptors during the summer months in a bid to minimise disturbance and other negative factors whilst they settled and nested. It is greatly appreciated!

If you would like to visit the reserve to watch the Marsh Harriers, please do so from our tower hide. They are sure to do some wonderfully close fly-bys and will be free from disturbance from here.

Date for your Diary – Operation Seabird Marine Day

Date for your diary – Annual General Meeting followed by a fascinating presentation on Peregrine Falcons!

The eleventh AGM of the company limited by guarantee will be held at St Erme Community Centre, on Saturday 17th June at 5 pm. This will be followed by a break for refreshments (complimentary buffet and cash bar) giving the opportunity to meet the board of trustees, other members and informal discussion.

At 7pm Cornwall Birds are delighted to welcome our guest speakers Richard Sale and Steve Watson who will give a multimedia presentation on their recent book The Peregrine Falcon. Using brilliant new video footage and photographs, Steve and Richard will give a detailed insight into the contents of the book, including new information about this charismatic raptor.

Running to 528 pages, ‘The Peregrine Falcon’ is a very comprehensive book, covering all nineteen subspecies that occur across the world. There are 150 full colour photographs and 235 figures and tables. Signed copies of the book will be available at the talk at a special price!

The meeting is open to all members, but to estimate numbers for catering it would be helpful if those planning to attend the AGM could let the Acting Honorary Secretary, Nick Watmough know by either by Email ([email protected]) or Text/WhatsApp (07771 715735) in advance of the meeting.

Confirmation of Bob Hibbett’s Funeral Arrangement

Bob Hibbett’s funeral will be held on Monday 22nd May at 12 midday at Treswithian Downs Crematorium, Camborne, TR14 0BL.

Anyone wishing to send flowers should direct them to the funeral directors W J Beswetherick Ltd., Central House, Fairmantle Street, Truro TR1 2EQ 01872 274021.

Donations can also be made to the RNLI (the chosen charity) through the funeral directors or can be made on the day.

If you would like to contact anyone in relation to the service please email Peter Clement using: [email protected]

Squacco Heron at Lethytep Donations Update

Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) were very pleased to receive the following message from Philip and Faith Hambly:

Philip and Faith wish to thank all visiting members for their respect, generosity, and gratitude shown them in granting everyone access to their wildlife site. Donations received in aid of Cancer Research UK amounted to £400.20

Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) would also like to extend their own thanks and gratitude to Philip and Faith for their generosity allowing so many people access to the beautiful Lethytep. Also, to all the visitors and members that respected the welfare of the Squacco Heron allowing many to enjoy this rare vagrant.

Bob Hibbett 14th September 1946 – 27th April 2023 – Age 76

It is with great sadness that Bob Hibbett passed away on the 27th April. Bob had been unwell since Boxing Day and in hospital since early February.

The Cornwall birding community has lost a big character and a close friend to many, especially those in West Penwith.

Bob moved to Cornwall from Surrey 23 years ago to pursue his beloved hobby of birding. He soon settled in. Bob cut a striking figure with a 6’4″ frame, long silver hair and a string of beads round his neck giving him the nickname and persona of ‘ageing rock star’ which he seemed to quite like. During the recent lock-down times he sported an impressive Sikh-like beard. Rarely out of safari shorts and a matching waistcoat, Bob was a distinctive character. Bob was one of the most inoffensive and likeable characters on the birding scene, preferring to listen and offer some wise advice. That easy-going demeanour, beaming smile, soft voice and dulcet tone won many friends.

Bob was a socialite birder, rarely missing a get-together and never far from a local hostelry, or from an Indian or Thai restaurant with his birding pals. He always sat on the end of the table, within easy reach of that trademark cool box, filled with San Miguel; not for himself, but always to share.

Bob hosted the occasional barbeque. Generosity and sharing were the key ingredients. One never went hungry. A sausage and burger were just the starters before the serious steaks came out.

Bob was not just about the Cornish birding scene. He was a serious foreign birder with many trips under his belt. The list is endless but the major trips included China, Costa Rica, South America, Africa, Madeira and Spain many times. Indeed, one of his favourite holidays was a long distance drive to Spain in his beloved Land Rover Discovery. He was also a regular on Scilly every Autumn. One of his co-finds was a Spectacled Warbler on Tresco. His final trip just last September was an out of character six week “expedition” across four southern African states, under canvas and barbequeing all the way. Quite some undertaking for a 76 year Old. But that’s the way he was.

Perhaps surprisingly, Bob wasn’t in to seawatching, given he lived just ten minutes from both coasts and initially in a flat overlooking Sennen Bay and the open Atlantic beyond. His favourite description of seawatching was a “stringers charter” and the “dark side” of birding. His closest pals tried to convert him but he was having none of it. Wearing shorts on Pendeen cliffs wouldn’t have been comfortable though!

Bob has reached the line that one day we all have to cross. He leaves a deep void that can’t be filled. All who knew him will be extremely saddened by his passing, not least his wife Ros and two sons, Scott and Lee and grandchildren Peter, Connor and Olivia.

Good bye my friend, you will be missed, safe travels wherever that may be.

(Written by Steve Rogers and Pete Clement).

Funeral arrangements are still to be arranged and we will update the birding community once confirmed.

Social Media Policy and Actions for Breeding and Sensitive Birds in Cornwall

During the breeding season Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) may opt to withdraw public posts from our social media channels concerning some protected and vulnerable breeding species within the county.

Ultimately this is to ensure their overall protection, but also to aid in continued breeding attempt success of these species moving forward. Many are also Schedule 1 listed which means they have additional protection by law (The Wildlife and Countryside act 1981, as amended) as do their nests, eggs and dependent young.  There are several other species which we aim to protect that are not on the Schedule 1 list, but are declining or vulnerable to disturbance in Cornwall.

Some species remain on their breeding grounds all year-round, so in order to protect the breeding site we choose to withhold sightings throughout the whole year. However, there are sites in Cornwall that are deemed as safe and some of our treasured breeding species can still be enjoyed with care. So, we still do promote their presence at these locations in the hope that our members can still enjoy seeing them. More information can be found here:

We still greatly appreciate all records of these birds for inclusion in the county database and the Birds in Cornwall Annual Report. In turn these records have a positive impact on conservation concerns as they are then added to the nationwide Rare Breeding Birds Panel report UK Rare Breeding Birds Panel – Information about rare breeding birds in the UK (, as well as used in planning application disputes and other development queries. All breeding records will be handled with the strictest discretion and should be sent to: [email protected]

We will also be working alongside other organisations and land owners in a bid to locate and create more safe viewing experiences of our treasured breeding species. Our ultimate goal is to help these specialist species and protect them from dog, predator and the general public disturbance. So please do not take anything personally as we are always happy to discuss the decision in greater detail and explain why we may have removed some content.