Unusual nest site

Great tit with insect

"Who's nest site are you calling unusual?"

This bird and it's mate have a brood of youngsters in a somewhat unusual nest. The young had not yet fledged as of 6 June 2007, in Sussex, England, sounth of the Downs, 5 miles in from the sea.

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Site of nest

On a patio there is a low "wall" created by simply stacking four cement blocks. As usual, they are not solid, but have two "holes". The blocks were stacked so that the holes made "chimneys". The nest is in one of these "chimneys"!

It isn't quite as exposed to the weather as that might imply... Across the top of the "wall" is a plank to support a planter. There are crosspieces, and one end is raised. Therefor, there is a gap between the top of the cement block and the underside of the plank... but a "roof" is created, keeping out the rain and predators.

However! The gap the birds use to access their nest is only 36mm high.

Bird entering nest

Above, on the blue background, we see a bird bringing in food. For the sharp eyed amoung you, I should mention that the first pictures were taken looking east, and the pictures with the bird were taken from the other side. The same gap is present on both sides.

Camera for photoing bird

And on the right we see the set-up for taking the pictures. Things started quite simple, but before I was done, the camera was being operated by a 20' long (electronic) cable release, and the activity on the nest was being monitored via a simple CCTV camera. It meant I could get on with things at a desk while waiting for birds to turn up! The camera is an Canon EOS350D... a lovely camera, with very user friendly menus and controls. I use a smaller Canon for casual photography, and it is marvelous to have essentially the same menus and options regardless of which camera I am using.

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