May 08, 2015

A nest

While walking Scout on Tooting Common this morning we came across a smudge of white feathers by the path. At first I thought a pigeon must have been killed:

Looking more closely, we found little clumps of lichen amid the feathers, and realised we were looking at the remains of a long-tailed tit's nest. The nest had probably been in the bramble thicket, low enough for a hungry fox to drag it out.

Long-tailed tits make the most astonishing, teardrop-shaped nests. They construct them painstakingly from lichen and moss, held together with cobwebs; this one had been lined with soft pigeon feathers brought from under the railway bridge nearby. They will collect between 1,500 and 2,000 feathers to make each nest, and it was more than a little heartbreaking to see one destroyed.

We could hear (and see) the adult birds, agitated in the thicket. I hope there is enough time left this breeding season for them to make a new nest – perhaps a bit higher up this time – and try again.