Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

'Master builders' at work

Like any passionate birder, I find the discovery of a scarce or rare bird an exciting event, similarly, observing unusual behaviour can hold ones attention.
During my work break on the afternoon of Tuesday 15th March 2016, I parked up along a quite lane at Hackford, Norfolk and was entertained for more than an hour by a pair of Long-tailed Tits nest-building in a hedge. The nest was sited in thick Bramble and Dog Rose close to an Ivy covered Oak, and I was only a matter of feet from this wonderful event.
Long-tailed Tit at nest in Hackford, Norfolk 15/03/16
The nest was a half-built cup of mosses, lichens, very fine fibres, feathers, and possibly tiny pieces of droppings to cement parts of the materials together.  The nest will eventually form a domed shape with a small entrance hole in the side.
Both  Long-tailed Tits were involved in the construction of the nest, and visits were frequent during my stay. I was entertained by these dainty little birds as they delicately placed materials in place, often reaching over the cup to tidy the outside of the nest.  Often, when in the nest, the Long-tailed Tits pushed themselves deep into the cup to ensure the shape was maintained and the fit was to the birds requirements, it was at times like this that I raised smiles and even had a laugh as these 'master builders' went about their business.
Sitting and watching these Long-tailed Tits building a warm home for their eggs and young was an hour so well spent and I considered it an absolute privilege that they allowed me into their world.


  1. All I can say is....and you need to use an Eric Idle voice for this...
    "You lucky, lucky....."
    What a beautiful event to see... Ours are in full build mode, too...but I've no idea whatsoever as to the location of their architectural wonder.
    They are collecting now... moss, lichens from the trees and fluff from the pussy willow...
    and what looks like hair... but I haven't seen them using the cat hair feeder, so I am not sure whare they are getting this.
    Unless they are stripping fibre from the dead nettle stems!
    Those and other woody plants possibly.
    Or even some of the roof insulation... we have hemp-fibre insulation.
    I have noticed that the "family" seem to be building this the start there were teams of four collecting material... now we are down to two at most.
    I've only ever seen one nest... but they had a failure a few years back... or something destroyed the nest... and great chunks were lying at the foot of one of the ivy-clad spruces in the front garden.
    This tree is now down... but left as a trunk of ten foot, to grow a rose up and over... the ivy is slowly climbing back up, but will have to be controlled so that it doesn't swamp the rose.
    However, the one next to it has plenty of ivy and is where I think they are building.
    This is a really cute photo.. it would make a good candidate to replace the nuthatch header when you get fed up with it.
    I love the slighty surprised look!

    The spinning and firming of the nest must have been fun to watch... we had a female Blackbird building in the vegetation directly opposite the bedroom window... from the kitchen window you could only just see her in there... but from the bedroom, you had a view straight down into the nest. Each layer was so carefully constructed... threading of grass stems, then a spin around, pushing with the chest to firm all in place...when she got to the mud stage, she kept leaving the nest for long periods...presumably to let the coat dry out... then she deserted, we thought...there was more than a week's gap between the last mud and the liner going in... and by that point the vegetation over the nest was beginning to obscure the view from the bedroom, too.
    Sights that are a privilege to watch, indeedy!

  2. Hi Tim
    Many thanks once again for your lovely comments.
    For me this is what birding is all about...taking time out to watch common species going about their business. This holds as much attention as seeing rarer species. Sad to say that the 'TWITching' fraternity probably overlook such wonderful behaviour. I shall probably revisit the nest in the week to check on its progress.
    I have been thinking about a change of photograph to replace the Nuthtach as it happens Tim...thank you for helping me decide on this matter.
    Migration is slow here in Norfolk...persistent northerly winds not helping. My next weekend off in two weeks should see good numbers of migrants back on territory, and other moving through.

    Thanks once again Tim for your comments.


  3. très belles images qui donnent envie de sortir, être patient(e) pour observer et avoir la chance de voir une mésange à longue queue dans son nid !
    ici elles volent ponctuellement en bande dans le jardin *
    merci de montrer ces merveilleux paysages et oiseaux !

  4. Merci beaucoup pour vos beaux commentaires Monique . Merci aussi pour la lecture de mon blog, je l'espère, vous plaira. J'espère que ma réponse en français a tout l'orthographe correcte etc