It’s taken me many months of following these little birds to get any half decent photographs. The Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) rarely keeps still, spending most of its day with its extended family of 10 to 20 birds, flitting and fluttering through trees, shrubs and hedgerows, chattering all the way. In fact, that’s often how you first realise they’re about, by their very characteristic call, which the BTO website describes as ‘a sharp tsurp, repeated several times’.
They are probably the cutest of Britain’s small birds, like little bundles of fluff with tails too long for their bodies, and, judging by the long list of charming common names they have attracted, I’m not the only one who thinks they’re cute. These are just a selection from the list in Buczacki’s Flora Britannica: in Yorkshire, they’re known as ‘Bottle jugs’; in the Midlands, it’s the ‘bottle tom’, the ‘bottle tit’ and the ‘bum barrel’; in Warwickshire, the ‘buttermilk can’; in East Lothian, the ‘feather poke’ and the ‘fuffit’; in Warwickshire, the ‘hedge mumruffin’; in Nottinghamshire the ‘jack-in-a-bottle’ and the ‘juffit’; and in Shropshire and Worcestershire the ‘miller’s thumb’ and the ‘long-tailed chittering’.