You should leap at chance to see th­ese cute birds

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

IF you have been out for a win­ter or early spring walk in wood­land you may have no­ticed flocks of small birds leap­ing up into the air just ahead.

Th­ese fluffy balls with long tails won’t hang around for you to get a good look at them but they are likely to be long-tailed tits.

I am loath to use the word ‘cute’, but th­ese birds are the epit­ome of cute.

They are se­ri­ously beau­ti­ful lit­tle pink birds, if not our most de­light­ful small crea­ture.

The long-tailed tits have a black, white and pink back, a white head with a wide black eye stripe and pale pink belly. They are stun­ning to look at if you are lucky enough to spot one. They live up to their name with black-and- white tails that are big­ger than their bod­ies.

This tail is a great help as they hang off branches and feed­ers – it bal­ances that tiny body as is twists and spins.

Long-tailed tits build a domed nest in a bush or the fork of a tree us­ing moss, which they cam­ou­flage with cob­webs and lichen. Last year in a lo­cal park they built a nest on a wire fence to the de­light of lo­cal pho­tog­ra­phers.

Over spring they came and went and then started to feed chicks in­side the nest. The lit­tle ones fi­nally popped out and made us all feel very proud.

As well as show­ing off, th­ese long-tailed tits be­lieve in home com­forts and line their nest with feathers. They can use up to 1,500 to make a soft land­ing for the eight to 12 eggs they lay.

While they hunt out in­sects and spi­ders in trees, you may see them on bird ta­bles in parks and gar­dens. And they will mix with other tits in flocks in win­ter, keep­ing warm and safe in num­bers. Earlier this year, I was sit­ting be­hind a screen close to bird feed­ers tak­ing pic­tures of long-tailed tits.

I felt so priv­i­leged that they came so close to the screen as they pecked at the bird feed­ers and cleaned their beaks on tree branches.

I should have left that per­fect spot af­ter 10 min­utes but I found my­self mes­mer­ized for more than an hour.

Walk­ing and watch­ing, it’s all part of the job and, tak­ing into ac­count some of the won­der­ful things I get to see, it’s a great job.

But sit­ting in the mid­dle of feed­ing long-tailed tits was cer­tainly a high point.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side, text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side. To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www. lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.

For more in­for­ma­tion call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust. org.uk.

●● Long-tailed tits at bird feeder

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