Small birds enjoy big success

BRITAIN'S bird population are flying in the face of predictions that their days may soon be numbered.Not only have rumours of their demise been greatly exaggerated, but these photos prove they are positively thriving in the East Anglian countryside.

BRITAIN'S bird population are flying in the face of predictions that their days may soon be numbered.

Not only have rumours of their demise been greatly exaggerated, but these photos prove they are positively thriving in the East Anglian countryside.

According to experts, great tits are taking advantage of a warmer climate, which has already created changes in the distribution of other species.

But it seems the great tit (Parus major) has altered its behaviour by adapting to climate change and the birds appear to be nesting in the strangest of places.

Photographer Mike Page captured a family of great tits making their home in a traffic cone on Seething airfield in Norfolk.

Sadly, the five hatched chicks were unable to enter or leave the cone and did not survive.

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Closer to home, Star photographer Simon Parker caught a juvenile blue tit relaxing on the back of his car in Swilland this week.

It showed little fear as he approached, although Simon could hear the alarm call of the youngster's mum as he took these pictures.

Simon also found another family of blue tits being coaxed out of their nest in a mobile building in Belstead, near Ipswich.

Chris Durdin, of East of England RSPB, said: “I wouldn't say a change of climate is directly related to people seeing more tits at this time of year but it may well have an impact on their food supplies.

“The birds are usually very good at timing their hatching to coincide with the arrival of caterpillars in the area but there is always a danger of these things getting out of sync. It's something we should definitely keep an eye on in the future.”

The increase in temperature in early spring has only happened over the last 30 years but the birds have responded well.

The birds now lay their eggs two weeks earlier than they did in the 1970s, maximising the chance of survival for their chicks and making the most of seasonal food.

It also gives them the chance to raise more families every year.

But the warm weather doesn't explain why nests have been popping up in odd locations. Mr Durdin believes it has more to do with public interest in their nesting habits.

He said: “I think it's down to an upsurge in interest at this time of year. Strange nesting spots are a classic spring trend and I think it has been more noticeable this year because of Springwatch and more people owning digital cameras.”

Last month, smokers were banned from using a wall-mounted ashtray outside a pub in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, after it became home to a family of blue tits.

Nine blue tits appeared in the letter box of a home in Brymbo, near Wrexham.

A Norfolk police patrol car was grounded after a blackbird built its nest on a rear wheel.