I mentioned this briefly a couple of blogs ago, but by popular demand I'm going to return to the amazing news, that bearded tits have once again bred at Langford. These evocative little birds, also known as bearded reedlings, are, as their name suggests, very very fond of reedbeds. Feeding on reed seeds during the winter and tasty reedbed insects during the warmer parts of the year, numbers were as low as 2-4 pairs across the whole country in 1947, but increased to 772 pairs in 2014 and must have smashed the 1000 mark soon after. The creation of reedbed sites like Langford is one of the key reasons for this population rebound. Success stories like this are a real seal of approval from our wonderful wetland wildlife.
Beardies are often heard before being seen, 'pinging' to each other during their bouncy, low-level flights across the reedbed and whilst precariously swaying backwards and forwards on the top of reed stems. They first bred at Langford in 2016 and then two pairs bred in 2017... we thought we were on the way to establishing the first stable population recorded in Nottinghamshire, however, since then we have had very high water levels during the winter and this appears to have curtailed subsequent breeding. Rising water levels in December/January have meant that reed on site has either been fully or almost fully submerged, and this has pushed our regular wintering flocks of beardies elsewhere. They need drier areas of reedbed for nesting and having been pushed off site, by the time water levels have dropped back down, it's been too late and the wintering flock or other birds moving around during the early spring, will have set up territories elsewhere. High winter water levels are beyond our control, with the wet stuff coming in from all sides and us having no where to move it to, we have to go with the flow, which is both exciting and frustrating in equal measure. The 2021/22 winter was kinder to the bearded tits however and wintering birds stuck around until February, whether it was these wintering birds which subsequently bred... we're not sure. but after a period of no birds being seen or heard, it came as an exciting surprise to hear that four juveniles had been seen in mid-June. Since then they have been reported a number of times at either end of Phase 1, (the public part of the site), so do keep your eyes and ears open if you're visiting. Bearded tits can have up to three broods, so you never know, there might even be more baby beardies getting ready to fledge!
Photos below all taken by bearded tit watcher James Wilkinson, they're long-distance shots to avoid disturbance and both the birds are young males. They are likely to still be on site.
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