Nature is full of gob-smackingly awesome engineering, and right up there with the best of them is the long-tailed tit nest. Long-tailed tits are one of my favourite garden birds. It’s impossible not to smile when these miniature Nerf balls grace you with their presence. 

Incapable of staying still for even a second, these dart-shaped fluff balls are more fidgety than my 3-year-old when he “DOESN’T NEED A WEE!” (that’s very fidgety for anyone unfamiliar with the toilet denial antics of a toddler). 

Last year I was lucky enough to stumble upon a pair of these charismatic birds building a nest. Long-tailed tit nests are something very special. Made with fragments of lichen and moss, held together with cobwebs and lined with as many as 1,500 feathers, this is the Hilton of bird accommodation. With anywhere between eight and fifteen eggs laid, the interwoven cobwebs allow the nest to expand and flex when crowded. 

These surprising birds and their surprising nests are always a real thrill to observe and photograph. Last year was the closest I’ve ever come to capturing their full story. Though I must confess, the young fledgelings in the following photos are from a different brood to the initial nest I photographed. For the story behind the original nest, you’ll have to buy me a pint!

 

My Approach: When observing and photographing any wildlife but particularly nests I take great care to keep a good distance and ensure the wildlife is either unaware or comfortable with my presence. I will leave the area at any sign of distress at my presence. The following photos were taken at a distance with a 700mm lens where my presence was hidden by naturally occurring foliage (I stood in a bush!).It’s also important to highlight that all birds, nests and eggs are protected by law. If You can find out more details on this here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/wildlife-and-the-law/wildlife-and-countryside-act/