Bearded Tit nesting is in full swing at Leighton Moss. This year we are using small trail cameras to record the unique colour ring combinations of nesting pairs as part of our 23 year long study of this isolated population. We are hoping that the cameras, (installed under our Schedule 1 disturbance permit) will also reveal the identity of any nest predator.
We already have the colour combinations of two pairs and they show how Bearded Tits pair in their first summer/autumn and once paired remain together through the winter if of course they both survive.
The first pair was ringed as juveniles in 2011. The first time they were seen together was on 4th October of that year. Since then we have recorded them together on 14 occasions mainly on the grit trays in autumn. The best period was in October 2013 when they were seen gritting as a pair on 6 days. Bearded Tits are difficult birds to keep up with because they spend all their time deep within the reed beds where access is very limited and is only really possible by boat. But the grit trays are a good focal point in autumn.
The second pair are in their first year. The female was from a first brood in 2013 but the male was from a late brood and was ringed still in juvenile plumage on 5th September. They were seen on the grit trays as a pair on 3 occasions between late November and mid January.