Back in March, we put a nesting box up on the tree between the two mazots and waited.
Then, a couple of months back, we first noticed that a couple of Blue Tits were checking out the box, just occasionally. Darting inside, then turning tail and disappearing. Then about six weeks back, we spotted that they were building a nest. They were carrying bits of twig and grass into the box – very discretely – but then it went very quiet for a month or so, with no signs of activity.
However, in the last three weeks, the nest box has turned into a hive of activity – with both mom and pop darting in and out every fifteen minutes carrying food. Sometimes seeds, sometimes caterpillars. Then for the last two weeks, the chicks were very vocal and squarking all day, “Tchee tchee tchee ho ho ho”.
Proud and happy guardians we were… As mom and pop got used to seeing us around the area, we were duly able to get closer and closer before they would give us their alarm, “cheeeer cheeeer”.
Then yesterday, I spotted one of the chicks looking out through their round window. It was the first time we had actually spotted the young. There was the occasional sound of fluttering from within the box: The chicks must have been stretching their wings – testing them for the first time.
This morning, there was even more of this – little white feathered heads popping up and down, appearing at the box opening for minutes at a time, and getting the lay of the land of the big outdoors!
Then, while I watched, both mom and pop came flying to the nest without food and without entering, before both landing on the tree above the box and both calling to their young-uns…
Slowly, a first head appeared and then a leg on the opening… Half-way out… Looking around. Dodging nervously back inside. Then, eventually, courage finally plucked, the first baby Blue Tit leaped into the great void and fluttered its tiny wings in a panic-stricken, “oh, my god, here we go…” moment. He flew rather unsteadily up and out, banking left in a rising turn straight into the side of the house! Dear readers, do not worry. He made it onto the ledge of one of the windows unhurt and waited there for a minute or two. He was probably getting over his first flight nerves. As a PPL, I can understand that – the first time you go solo is quite a harrowing experience!
Then another, tentatively poking its tiny head in and out, before plucking up the courage to spread its wings, leaving the box… and also hitting the house beside his brother…
Then another and a fourth. These selected the nearby silver birch. A wiser choice I thought.
The fifth crash-landed on the electricity box…
One by one, they left until there was the seventh, the final fledgling, all alone in the nesting box.
Tweeting all by itself, it looked remarkably panicked by the sudden absence of its brothers and sisters. I could hear the others and mom and pop calling to it.. Finally, in one giant leap of faith, hope and fear, the smallest bird of the lot emerged and flew; albeit extremely unsteadily, out parallel to the mazot, and up into the nearest silver birch tree for a well-deserved rest.
It is rather quiet now without their endless squarking. It is sad to see them go – but as responsible parents, I guess you just have to let your kids grow up, make their own choices and fly out into the big wide world on their own….
Hope they come and visit soon.
Ed. note: Opening the box the day after revealed just one unhatched egg – all other seven eggs hatched successfully and the chicks made it to fledge. Plus, we have had some of the chicks feeding around the garden since.