Long-tailed Tits

I used to have a house in Birmingham; it had a long garden which was too much for me to ever manage but I used to try. There was a very old apple tree in the middle of a herbaceous border and I’d often find myself working under the tree as the light failed in the short afternoons of autumn and winter. Sometimes the tree would fill with Long-tailed Tits and they would flit and spin around the thin branches, calling constantly until they either noticed me, ate all the available insects or simply reached the next item on the agenda – it is hard to see them as anything less than purposeful. These were magical experiences and thirty years later, I began to wonder if I had added something in the recollection, a bit of volume here and some numbers there.

I started to notice them in Glasgow and for a while, I worked on a map which recorded my sightings of Long-tailed Tits in the West End of Glasgow. More often than not, I’d hear “zee-zee-zee” all around me but not see the calling birds, but there were places where they seemed to break cover regularly and in numbers. Lilybank Gardens, Lynedoch Crescent and Sandyford Place were all good bets for a sighting. That is, unless I had a camera with me, in which case no-show, or they’d be particularly hyperactive and defy the autofocus, so I’d just enjoy the birds and not worry too much about trying to get images.

In May 2020, when everyone was “reconnecting with nature”, I went out with the camera through the Park and onto the Kelvin Walkway in very bright sunshine. Just past Kelvinbridge, I was stopped in my tracks by what sound like a large number of birds. “WTF” uttered the inevitable headphone-wearing cyclist – “LTT!” I aimed at his retreating backside. There was an LTT creche just above my head with a couple of youngsters parked up for a feed and a number of adults bringing Mayflies to them.

It took me a while to realise that the lens focus range needed switching over and then I was away, getting my first and much sought after  images. Lots of people passed me by and no-one noticed what I was photographing, not unusual at all for the Kelvin Walkway.

Since then, they’ve visited the trees at the back of our house for a trapeze act and I’ve found them by Possil Loch and Bunhouse Lane and managed to get images which show their extraordinary agility. I’m posting now because I’m beginning to not only hear but see them again as the trees finally lose their leaves.     

A gallery of LTT images follows.

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