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‘The Red list – Willow Tits’

Last year Max Angus was invited by The British Trust of Ornithology (BTO), based at Thetford, to create a new linocut of a Willow tit for a project based on the sixty-seven birds on the BTO’s Red List. The book is called ‘Red Sixty-Seven’. The sixty-seven endangered birds are represented by 67 writers and artists. The book is available on The BTO website. The 'Willow Tits' is a featured Lino-cut print in the Summer Printworks Exhibition at the Mill Tye Gallery. For more information on Max Angus go to our artist page.



The Red List - Willow tits


Sitting in a corner of a bird hide in East Anglia, I was watching and sketching the comings and goings of activity at the bird table and the adjacent trees. At the bird table, the collared doves would just descend scattering the smaller birds. The long-tailed tits would land on the edges of the table with their tails hanging over the edge. In the distance, the Goldfinches were preoccupied with the long hanging feeders in the trees.


A very stylish little bird flitted between the branches. Then a second bird keeping an even greater distance. The trees were just days from unfurling their leaves for spring. The first little bird watched and flirted with the trees before taking the opportunity to come down to the bird table at quieter moments. So quick. I was unsure if they were marsh tits or willow tits as they are very similar. I had managed to take a few sketches of them.


Visitors came and went from the hide. By now the sketchbook was away, and I was also about to leave. One of the visitors, on seeing the ‘willow’ or ‘marsh’ tits exclaimed in a low excited hushed voice they were definitely ‘Willow’ tits. He had seen them outside the hide, but more importantly had heard them calling. ‘You need to hear their call. Marsh tits and Willow tits calls are very different’. Out came his mobile. He found the call on one of his phone apps, and then stopped ‘Can’t play it with them so close. It will confuse them. It wouldn’t be right!’ He put the phone away. ‘You must listen to it later. Their call is so different. It’s the only way you can really tell them apart. They were thought to be the same species until a few years ago’.



Thank you to all the birders that impart little gems of knowledge to those that just enjoy watching wildlife.


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