It was lovely - and a surprise - to hear the distinctive little 'pit pit pit' calls of troop of Long-tailed Tits moving into the garden. My garden is half a mile or so from decent hedgerows and scrubby areas, so they have to pick their way through whatever garden hedges and trees they can find to thread a safe route through the urban area I live in. I only expect to see them a few times a year.

Long-tailed Tits are such sociable little creatures, with often a sibling helping a pair raise their young, and then out of the breeding season they like to band into groups of two or three families that travel together, chatting constantly while they go.

And what tends to happen is that they pick up some hangers-on along the way, so I knew it was worth standing to watch the carnival go through to see who was hitching a ride.

Sure enough, half a dozen Blue Tits and and couple of Great Tits were enjoying the roving gang, taking the most time to pick through an elderly Elder I have. And there in amongst them was a moss-coloured little Chiffchaff, silently darting from branch to branch looking for insects.

Soon Goldcrests are likely to be arriving in numbers from Scandinavia, and they and their home grown cousins will also tend to join the flocks, livening up the garden for a few moments with a bit of colour. Irresistible!

  • They are one of my favourites too! Always so cheeky and funny especially when half a dozen of them cram onto a single peanut feeder, popping on and off at lightning speed. Very privileged to have had a big flock of >20 come through earlier in the year, possibly a group of several families as Adrian describes? Immediately recognisable from their calls before you even see them.

    I wish we had goldcrests in amongst them too but sadly not seen one for nearly 2 years now. Will keep fingers crossed...

  • Lovely birds, they do visit my garden to feed but only for a few minutes in passing. I agree with ratty, they are constantly on the move. I haven't seen any this year but have just got back from a weeks holiday so am still hoping. Lovely photo by the way. I have a couple of photos from previous years, but very poor quality.

  • Some years ago long tailed tits started to visit  the peanuts and fat balls in our garden. (I was over the moon at the sight of them!)

    I've never been sure why they suddenly appeared - had they had learnt to recognise feeders?  or was it the increased tree planting in the near neighbourhood or maybe the 'horrible' new by-pass was acting as a bit of a wild-life corridor.

    How they ever get anything to eat is also a mystery as they never keep still enough for long enough!