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British Tits
by Carol Townsend

There are many kinds of tits in the UK, for example:
Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus); Long- tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus); Crested Tits (ophophanes cristatus); Coal Tits (Periparus ater) and Zebra Tits. (Pyjamus Stripeus)

We have a nestbox on the fence, shaped like a Swiss chalet. One morning two years ago a pair of young Great Tits (parus major) came house- hunting.

“Well, what do you think dear?” said Mr Tit.

“Hmm. Will it be warm and dry?” Mrs Tit replied.

First one, then the other, hopped inside.

“Yes I think that will do I’ll be happy to lay the eggs in there” said Mrs Tit.

I am not a twitcher. A twitcher is someone who likes to visit places to see a certain species so they can write it down in a notebook. If a rare bird is sighted anywhere in the country they will drop everything to go and see it, and quite often the bird in question has vanished by the time they arrive. A friend of ours dashed all the way from the south of England to Scotland to see a rare migrant, only to find it had returned from whence it came.

I, on the other hand, do enjoy seeing birds in our garden, but I never write anything in a notebook. I spend a fortune on seeds and nuts which I put into feeders, and whenever I can I stand vigil against marauding, well-fed cats.

The tits spent many days carrying first nesting material, then food for the chicks. This did not go un-noticed by the Cat-From-Next-Door-But-One. If I saw it anywhere near the nestbox I would open the door and shout at it, and it would sit and glare at me: “Huh, I’m not scared of you”.

So then I would have to dash out of the door, flapping my arms and screaming like a demented banshee with her underwear on fire.

Finally I declared war on the cat.

“Just you wait mate, I have a Secret Weapon.”

What is the one thing cats do not like? Water. I would get a cup of water and throw it in the cat’s direction and it would scuttle away for dear life.

Eventually I tired of the war, so decided to employ guerrilla tactics. I placed a bowl of water on the fence so that the cat couldn’t get to the nestbox without wading through it. As I had hoped, it decided it wasn’t worth the effort and kept away after that.

My efforts were rewarded two weeks later when I saw three little balls of fluff in the magnolia.

Last year I didn’t see the chicks, but this year we had a Great Tit family again, and this time no cats, and I have seen three young ones in the magnolia.

In conclusion, if you are in Britain, please join the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and help protect our Tits.