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Blue tits nest in ashtray at Norwich pub

PUBLISHED: 15:49 10 May 2011

A pair of blue tits that have taken over an ash tray at The Cottage pub in Thorpe St Andrew where landlord Ian Perry has put up a sign warning the smokers not to use it.; Photo by Simon Finlay

A pair of blue tits that have taken over an ash tray at The Cottage pub in Thorpe St Andrew where landlord Ian Perry has put up a sign warning the smokers not to use it.; Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant © 2011; 01603 772434

Tweeting has taken on a new meaning at one pub in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, where a family of blue tits have set up an unusual home in a wall-mounted ashtray next to the entrance.

A notice on the ashtray at The Cottage, in Thunder Lane, tells customers not to stub out their cigarettes to ensure the birds can continue flying in and out of their nest for as long as they want.

While the nest may have caused minor inconvenience to smokers, landlord Ian Perry said the arrival of his feathered friends had proved a talking point.

“It’s lovely and has added to the pub’s atmosphere,” said Mr Perry. “It gives the customers something to talk about, other than me.

“There are more fag ends to clear up, though.”

Blue tits have set up home in the ashtray for the past four or five years and the latest nest was set up a few weeks ago. While the average life expectancy for blue tits is just 18 months – although it has been known for them to live as long as 21 years – Mr Perry suspected the repeat visitors were from the same family line.

The recent warm weather has given pub-goers the opportunity to enjoy a pint while watching the antics of the birds fluttering around the beer garden.

However, he said customers had been very good at making sure they did not disturb the blue tits.

The birds return to the nest every few minutes, bringing with them food and bits of tree. The ashtray has two holes for them to use and they always poke their heads out to make sure the coast is clear before taking flight.

There do not appear to be any chicks yet, but it looks like there are eggs inside the ash tray.

Caroline McGregor, 37, of Dussindale, was enjoying a drink in the beer garden with her husband when she spotted the birds flying in and out of their temporary home.

“I didn’t spot the notice on the ash bin at first – what alerted me to the nest was the arrival of two blue tits, who took it in turns to dart in and out of the right-hand hole,” she said.

“They must be very devoted parents, judging by the amount of times they came in and out.”

Birds have been finding unsual places to nest across Norfolk this year. An ashtray at The Ratcatchers, in Cawston, was also turned into a nest by birds, while volunteers built a special platform for nesting falcons high up on the spire of Norwich Cathedral.

And a post box in East Beckham has also been used by nesting birds for several years.

See live images of the falcons at Norwich Cathedral in the ‘falcon cam’ section at www.eveningnews24.co.uk

Do you know of an unusual nesting site for birds? Call reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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