SOS Marsh Tit Survey 2021 Update

The 2020 Marsh Tit survey had to be abandoned mid-way through 2020 due to the first Covid-19 lockdown. Nevertheless 29 squares were surveyed, although in some of these only one of the two planned visits were made. The survey has now been cautiously restarted in a manner consistent with government rules and BTO guidance. All volunteers for this survey will be expected to observe all government restrictions and guidelines.

In addition to the survey of random 1km squares we are encouraging observers to make a special effort this year to submit any Marsh Tit records from elsewhere in the county. If you see any Marsh tit on your local walks, then please record them on BirdTrack or iRecord.

Both Marsh Tit and Willow Tit, the two Poecile species in Sussex, have declined nationally. The latter species is the second fastest declining species in the UK, after Turtle Dove, having declined by 93% since the 1960s. A Sussex survey for Willow Tit in 2019 failed to find a single bird and the species is, in all probability, now extinct in Sussex.
Marsh Tit declines have been slightly less severe but, nevertheless, numbers have fallen by 80% since the 1960s and the species was added to the red list in 2002. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the species might be doing better in Sussex than some other areas, but we need better data if we are to properly understand its status and trends.

We are, therefore, asking for help to carry on the Marsh Tit survey this year to obtain statistically robust evidence. A maximum of two visits is required per 1km survey square by mid-April.

The objective is to establish a base line population estimate for Sussex so that we establish the current status of the species. This survey will become part of our repeating cycle of SOS species surveys so we will be able to track the population trend in the county over time. This will give us warning if the species continues to decline.


Volunteers who were registered to take part in 2020 have agreed to resurvey the squares allocated to them last year. We have restricted the distance to travel for surveying to a maximum of 15km from your address. There are some squares left with no surveyor, please see below the squares that are still available. The survey can be carried out until the 15th of April.

If they are local to you and you are interested in taking part in this survey please contact the SOS Surveys Officer (email below). Please have a look at the list of randomly selected 1km squares and indicate which one(s) you can cover. We will organise the maps and recording forms to be sent to you for the 2021 season.

TQ4112 – Hamsey River Ouse
TQ4427 – Nutley
TQ4513 – Ringmer
TQ5510 – Upper Dicker
TQ7029 – Etchingham Pashley
TQ0429 – Loxwood Roundstreet Commn
TQ7031 – Bewl Water

Matt Twydell (SOS Surveys Officer) Email: