They are ripping out the cobwebs everywhere.
I try to work, but then they catch my eye with their manic destruction.
Busy is hardly the word. They are obsessed. They are just outside my window. My typewriter is silent. I watch spellbound.
Within a yard they spin and weave the gossamer with their puny beaks into bundles.
You see, cobwebs are the mortar in this building trade. All those spiders with their burrows in between the bricks of this old house thought they were safe.
All those old mothers with their bundles of babies in cocoons were on to a good thing. Or so they thought.
Then along comes this tiny tit and pulls their creche to pieces. Of course it’s all in a good cause.
A bigger creche, another huge nursery, not for mere spiders, but for birds.
Isn’t that what spiders are for? To feed others with their big fat juicy bodies?
After all, we eat their bigger cousins, the crabs. Off goes the bottle-tit with its glue, and in a minute looks for a brick.
Soon it has ripped a nice big green one, which we call moss, off the cherry tree. Father tit cheers with a chee-chee-chee and brings his own brick too. Together the couple lay the foundation. The nest is now a cup like a chaffinch’s nest.
She disappears head first into this bowl and her long tail goes round and round like a stirring spoon.
I watch helplessly, and stir my coffee in just the same way. I have given up work. Now I merely watch. Time spent in reconnaissance is not time wasted.
Over the next week much more time will be not wasted. The pair will build their house into a round dome. There will be a small side entrance, enough for a ten-pence coin to pass. They will then complete the tiles on the roof: flakes of lichen will be attached with more spiders’ webs.
Next will come the best bit: the interior decoration and soft furnishings.
Two thousand feathers will be found, somehow, from all over the place.
Pigeons plucked by sparrowhawks, cock pheasants having a dust-up, siskins flying into the house windows, robins squabbling.
All these loose feathers will be brought back for the cosiest nest in Christendom.
There is another female involved in the couples’ dream house, by the way.
The boss had two wives this year.
So this nest that doesn’t waste my time might soon have 12 eggs inside, each as big as a pea.
Then a dozen children, each as big as a newborn pigmy shrew.
Just as well long-tailed tits are devoted parents and in fact quite common birds in Sussex, even after a hard winter. Because there is the question of the landlords.
Crows, magpies, grey squirrels, stoats, rats, weasels love to rip the roof off the master builders’ classic residences, so I shall have to not waste time even more with my popgun at the ready in the days ahead.