A Chance to Catch Up ?

Friday morning and I’m not at work. A chance to catch up with things at home. Like getting the replacement nest boxes put up. One taken off the shed while I repainted the outside (of the shed that is, not the nest box), one on the back wall of the house that has a badly rotted roof. The need to do this swiftly was brought home to me last weekend when I noticed a blue tit popping in and out of the box on the front wall of the house. The warm winter so far is having an impact on the nest-finding season it would seem (though I still suspect, in some masochistic way that we will have a cold snap before winter gives up its ghost).

The nest boxes were put together from some old plywood left over from what is now known as the Worm Hotel (a container to keep the wormery in – and warm enough to encourage worm action in the colder weather). But inspiration came after I picked up a piece of silver birch on Cannock Chase. At first I thought I’d just slice it up for the fire pit but …

… looking at it later I decided to front the boxes with it. Just messing about with ideas, you know.


But having painted them with a couple of coats of paint left over from the shed, they were now ready to be put up. I didn’t want to put the one back on the front of the shed: too accessible to cats. This cul-de-sac has an unhealthily high population of moggies, whose owners have, strangely seen fit to have their driveways and frontages hard landscaped, meaning our ground is toilet choice numero uno. Not pleasant in any language.

So I had been considering the idea of having a nest box in the small leaved lime tree (tilia cordata). Meaning dragging the ladder from the depths of a shed housing over wintering garden paraphernalia (benches, terra cotta pots, tables et cetera) and bending “found” metal rods over a branch and hooking the box into place. Once up the ladder, contorting my way beneath and between intervening branches, I had a brainwave.

What a great place to take a photo of the garden from, especially as soon the patio doors will be replaced with French doors: a kind of before shot to contrast with the view after the work is done. And I am unlikely to be up here again for some time. So I trick my way down the rungs, get the camera, re-scale the ladder and, as I am on my way notice that, in just those, what four minutes, there is a great tit clinging onto the box front, dipping its head in and out of the chiselled hole. Amazing! Now, our next door neighbour has a bird feeder just over the fence, but this is opportunism at its very best. Unfortunately the battery in my other camera (the one with a telescopic lens) needs charging (or there’d be attempted shots of the very bird in action. Maybe tomorrow?

Of course once the word “camera” has flashed into my brain I hear another voice;

“You could get an unusual shot of the garden from up here. Use the other camera; you never take enough photos. Stop thinking about it – do it. Now!”

Then I move the ladder. Up to the house, lever the old nest box, blimey it’s heavier than I thought – and set about putting the new one up. Of course it’s heavy: its chock-full of about eight years nests – and a grass that has literally rooted itself into the inside back wall of the box. I am able to simply break the rotting roof off and empty the contents into the compost bin (always there, that bin!). ten minutes later we spot a wasp crawling, painfully slowly up the brick wall. Far too early for queen wasps to be emerging surely? So I guess this one must have been inside the old nest box. A pity to have disturbed her I think a little guiltily … but then again that box did need replacing – and I put a new roof on the old one – just need someone to give it to now, because there doesn’t seem to be room here for another nest box.

Later, after a walk to the butcher’s we step into the kitchen to find a flock of long-tailed tits on and around the bird feeder. Add that to the tiny goldcrest we spotted earlier …

When is the RSPB Big garden Birdwatch?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Great views. Let’s hope the birds show up again at the weekend 😉


  2. Hmmm, I think the goldcrest was just passing through. There are several clumps of conifers (larch, Scots and Corsican pine nearby), but hopeful for the others (long tailed tits are such charming visitors).


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