Our Great Tit Family – Part 1

Watercolour painting of a Great Tit by Paul Hopkinson
Great Tit in watercolour

A few years ago I was making a few bird boxes and selling them to neighbours.  I therefore put up a box on our gate post to advertise the fact.  We were much amused to see that a Great Tit took up residence in this box.  She built a beautiful nest and lined it partly with a tennis ball!  Unfortunately by the time we noticed it I was too late to rig up a camera to watch these Great Tits in our bird box.

Indeed as many of you will know Jo and I have a number of bird boxes around our house and garden.  Many of these are fitted with cameras.  We can subsequently view what is happening inside the box from the comfort of our lounge.  In addition we have two TV screens, one with regular TV and one with a CCTV system.  This gives us a view of all the cameras at once and I’ll leave you to guess which TV we watch the most!  (In case you are interested we generally buy our cameras from a Cornish company called HandyKam.)

Great Tits in our bird box laid 5 eggs
Great Tit eggs in a tennis ball lined nest
Roll on to 2019

A couple of weeks ago we were returning from a walk and we noticed someone delivering leaflets along our row of houses.  We thought nothing about it and carried on inside.  Several hours later we suddenly realised that there had been no leaflet in our door.  Now in the past people have put leaflets in the bird box on the post – surely not again?  I went out to check and sure enough, there was an election leaflet shoved in the box.  On removing the leaflet I was horrified to discover that it had been placed on top of a partially made nest.  

Now Jo had previously seen Great Tits around the box whilst she was out there gardening.  We suspected this was the owner of the nest.  Unfortunately, this particularly species is quite susceptible to disturbance and our worry was that they may now have abandoned.  We had little choice but to screw the lid of the box down and put a sign on it as we were going away for a few days.

Location of our Great Tit box
Now does this look like a letter box?
What was happening?

All the time whilst we were away we were wondering what was happening with the nest.  The first thing we did when we got back was to check the box.  We were extremely relieved to see that the birds had thankfully not been put off and they had carried on building.  So the next thing to do was get a camera in there quick sharp whilst the birds were no where to be seen!   Fortunately this year we were a bit more prepared.  Adaptations had been made to the box so that a camera could be fitted quickly should the need arise.   It wasn’t long before the nest was all lined and occupied we once again had Great Tits in our bird box.

We are really looking forward to seeing the progress of our little Great Tit family and we will of course keep you posted.  As you can see, Dad is very attentive and is regularly returning to the box to feed Mum.  The box lid is firmly screwed down and the sign is still on it, so we are fingers crossed.  As they say, watch this space!  Paul

For the next instalment click here.

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