Great tit nest in stoneware bottle!

I went away for the bank holiday weekend to stay with my in-laws. They live in Harlow and have a beautiful huge, mature garden. Feeling lost without my nestbox to watch, I strolled around their garden, looking for evidence of some nesting that I could photograph. It didn’t take me long to find my first subjects! Just outside the back door, they have a selection of old stoneware bottles and from one came the sound of chicks. I stepped back to watch and within a few seconds I was amazed to see a great tit land on the lip and then disappear down inside the jar. Yes, this great tit pair had built their nest inside the largest of the jars! Certainly a safe place to nest!


I had my wireless remote with me but no tripod, so I set my camera up on a plastic box and focused on the lip of the jar. After watching the adults for a bit, they seemed to be landing on the right hand side, sitting for a second or so before disappearing down inside the jar.  They did not seemed worried at all by my camera being near and I was able to sit further away, trying to fire the camera just as they landed….. not as easy as it sounds. In many cases they went straight into the jar, without even stopping… quite an achievement. This led to lots of photographs of the jar…. but no bird!

They generally would land for a second…..


Then, in a split second, they would look down inside the jar …..


…. then they’d be gone…. all over in a second!


There were a few cases, though, where they stopped and sometimes turned towards the camera as they heard the shutter. This gave me the shots I was after!  I experimented with the angle of the camera to get some different shots. Here are some of my favourites….






 By the sound of the chicks, the size of the faecal sacs being removed and the amount of caterpilars being bought in, these chicks are close to fledging….. but how are they going to get out? It will be very difficult for the fledglings to fly up vertically and get out of a small hole with very slippery sides… quite a challenge! There is a stop in the bottom and I did wonder whether it would be worth removing that, but we felt there was probably debris in the bottle meaning that the nest was actually built above this. Great to watch though!

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