I’m not the only one with blue tit vandals

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Despite the promise of spring in the form of daffodil bulbs poking through the sodden earth, it still seems a long way off.

Many readers have reported waxwings from all over the Borders, including one large flock of around 60 at Woodside Garden near Ancrum, appropriately next to the RSPB visitor centre.

Another winter visitor, the brambling, seems to be well distributed in good numbers, despite the poor beech mast crop this year. Typically, neither species has graced my garden with its presence so far, but I keep watching.

My email inbox has been busy this week (which is always welcome), particularly regarding the problem, mentioned last week, that I have with blue tits stripping the paintwork from the boards above my patio windows.

Some of you directed me to an interesting website where others had experienced the same thing. Window edges seem to be a favourite target, particularly for blue and great tits that seem to be attracted by the smell of the linseed oil in the putty.

Other correspondents who have also had paint strippers reckon it may be that the birds hear the sound of insects moving under the woodwork, but I am not convinced.

I.C. of Peebles wrote to say that he had a nest box with a camera inside which a blue tit used for roosting and resting. After a couple of days, the camera stopped working and on looking inside found that the blue tit had stripped the covering off the cable and pecked through the wire. It would seem that these endearing little birds have quite a destructive streak!

Another emailer said that they were experiencing a shortage of goldfinches this winter and wondered whether anyone else had noticed the same.

Finally, R.W. from Kelso sent me the accompanying picture of an imprint of a bird which flew into his lounge window during the night.

Its wingspan measures 63 centimetres from tip to tip and he wondered what it might be. I took a guess at a male sparrowhawk which may have been chasing his garden birds at first light and didn’t hit the air brakes quick enough, but I would be very interested to hear if anyone else has any ideas as to what species it may have been.

Drop me an email if you think you know. The address is on page 2.