Wee bird took to stripping in my garden

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Further to last week’s scribblings about my unsuccessful trip to Gretna to watch the spectacular annual starling murmuration, W.B. of Galashiels emailed to say that they have moved their roost from previous years.

If anyone is interested in trying their luck, they are now to be found in the trees behind the M & S building at the Gretna Gateway shopping centre.

After I wrote recently about the unusually high numbers of coal tits visiting my garden, many readers contacted me to report the same in their gardens.

To confirm that it was more than imagination, a Peebles bird ringer logged an amazing 152 different coal tits in his garden during October – far exceeding any previous October for the same site.

The cold weather this weekend has brought many more birds into my garden, so my feeding stations have been augmented with extra filled coconuts and apples pegged to the ground. Blackbird numbers reached double figures one morning, no doubt swollen by some foreign visitors.

The tree sparrows which I haven’t seen since last winter have also returned and several pheasants are now calling in on a daily basis.

During the week I was doing a bit of DIY in the kitchen and I kept hearing a loud tapping from the wall above the patio doors. At first I thought it was mice in the wall cavity, but the tapping was too regular.

A couple of days later I noticed a paper-thin, ragged brown strip stuck to the patio window. On further investigation I noticed more on the ground outside. Picking a piece up, I discovered that it was a strip of dry paint. Above the patio doors is some boarding which was treated with some very expensive outdoor paint during the summer and to my horror I noticed that it was hanging off in shreds.

So that was where the noise was coming from, but who was the culprit? I didn’t have to wait long to find out, as soon afterwards I heard the noise again and this time I knew where to look.

To my surprise, the vandal turned out to be none other than one of the little blue tits I have been feeding faithfully on a daily basis. It was tearing long strips of paint off with its beak, like someone peeling off sunburnt skin and letting it flutter to the ground. It obviously wasn’t eating it and there was nothing edible underneath it, so why on earth was it doing it? I have heard of them pecking at putty round windows, but this was a new one on me. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has had similar experiences or has any idea what might be going on. My email address is on page 2.