Great Tits

Inquisitive Great Tit
Inquisitive Great Tit

Sorry to disappoint those of you who were maybe expecting , er, something else, this post is about birds! It’s not just great tits that are great, I think all members of the genus are. Since suffering another CFS slump I haven’t been able to do much, my graduated exercise has ceased, including very light gardening. When I have had the energy to make it outside to bask in the sunshine and acquire Vitamin D naturally (this seems to help); I have taken great delight in watching the antics of flocks of tits. When I haven’t been able to get out of the back door they have saved me from cabin fever by flitting about in a comical fashion near the window.

I was concerned that I hadn’t seen a coal tit in the garden for about a year, I was over joyed the other day when three of them were in foraging in and around our Viburnum tinus, one of them had a mooch around at pot about 10-12 feet away from me.

Fluffed Up Coal Tit
Fluffed Up Coal Tit

The large groups seem marginally¬†less talkative than they did when the excitable chicks first fledged but they certainly aren’t any less boisterous or busy. The pecking order, coined from avian behaviour, hasn’t changed. You can see that poor coal tits get shoved out of the way by blue tits, who in turn, get shoved away by great tits if they think they’ve found a tasty morsel. Long-tailed tits, one of my favourites because the first brood often stick around after fledging to help raise the second brood, seem to stay out of this.

A few years ago, we were full of anticipation when a pair of great tits were seen making regular visits to a little corner of our garden with beaks full of moss and leaf litter. Sadly, the stealthy cat from next door had also witnessed this behaviour. I was outside at the time and didn’t see but am told that in a heartbeat that cat sprang up and caught one of our little builders. I saw her play with her quarry before killing it, I wasn’t able to stop her, I was too far away. The surviving great tit searched for his/her partner before singing a lamenting tune for the rest of the afternoon. It has haunted me ever since, even the breeze seamed to stop rustling the emergent foliage, as if in respectful mourning. I found the whole incident upsetting and empathised with the sorrow that little bird expressed at the loss of his/her mate. I know it’s nature and as well as being a complete marvel, it can also be cruel but that day confirmed my belief that animals have emotions too.

I’ve noticed recently that the tits are tapping on wood like nuthatches, are they looking for food? They aren’t just sticking to trees – on blue tit ended up knocking loudly (sounded like a human) on the fence and a great tit gently tapped on our front door. Has this been happening to you?

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