Long-tailed Tits

I didn’t want to write this so quickly after the blue tit post, as I didn’t want to look like I was obsessed by tits (make up your own jokes, please). But I noticed that a lot of my posts say “…and I saw some Long-tailed Tits”. I very rarely put “…and I saw a Carrion Crow”, “…then I saw a Robin”, even though I see loads of all of them.

The strange thing is Long-tailed Tits still seem special to me. When I was kid, pouring over the Hamlyn Book of Birds of Britain and Europe, they were on my wish list of birds I’d really, really like to see, but somehow never did. But now I see them all the time. I saw a large and fairly tame flock in Weston Park this afternoon. Yesterday I sat in the Botanical Gardens and a pair flittered above my head. At the weekend they danced around us at Langsett, and I keep spotting them at the tram stop. I probably see more Long-tailed Tits these days than Great Tits, say, which wouldn’t give me anywhere near the quick flit of excitement as these pink and black balls of fuzz with the stupidly long tails.

It isn’t the case that Long-tailed Tits are now more common than they were. They might be, but I doubt it. The fact is with naturewatching that the more you look, and the more you know, the more you see. I’ve learnt that the weird, high-picthed, almost electronic squeaks and bleeps from the trees means they’re around, and can put a name to the long-tailed sillhouettes scrabbling about thr branches, and know to stand still and wait for them to get a bit closer. And bloody hell, there’s loads of them once you know what you’re looking for.

Jizz, birdwatchers call it, that instinctual knowledge that lets you know what something is before you’ve even thought about it (anyone who sniggered about the tit obsession can amuse themselve here as well, of course). And you only learn the jizz by watching, and observing, and getting used to something. You have to be careful you don’t get too obsessed with list and ticks, because however much pleasure you get from putting another tick next to a name, it never compares to the true joy of knowing that something you once considered rare and sought-after is actually all around you. And that includes the brilliant Long-tailed Tits. Did I mention I saw some today…?

(Pic by Marek Szczepanek, once again cribbed off Wikipedia Commons, see here for details)

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Pete

My name is Pete

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