Column: The delights of getting up close and personal with wildlife

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Whilst watching Winter Watch last week from the beautiful Cairngorms, one clip showed an enchanted Michaela Strachan enjoying tiny coal tits feeding from her outstretched hand.

She had a palmful of sunflower seeds and the coal tits were quite happy to hop on to her hand to take some.

It reminded me of a sunny day last summer when I was out in the garden hanging washing.

I noticed a blue tit on the branch of a large bush that appeared to be busily feeding on something. The bird allowed me to get surprisingly near. Ten minutes later it was still in the same place, busily pecking.

This seemed slightly odd, so I went closer and realised that the blue tit was, in fact stuck. Somehow it had become entangled in some fine twine and was tied to the branch.

Its vigorous pecking was in fact a desperate attempt to peck through the twine to free itself.

I got some scissors and tried as best I could to cut through the twine whilst the blue tit flapped its wings in panic.

I have never been so close to one of these birds before and, like Michaela, it was lovely to be so near and to observe how tiny and light they are – a blue tit does not weigh much more than a 50 pence piece.

Freeing the bird was by no means easy – cutting the twine without cutting its feet whilst all the while it flapped like crazy. Then suddenly it was free and disappeared in an instant.

Blue tits, coal tits and the larger great tit are all regulars in my garden, but the blue tit is my favourite.

They are exquisitely marked, with a lovely blue plumage not shared by the other tits.

I have a nest box on an east facing wall and it would be lovely if a family of blue tits were to take up residence there this summer.

Last year a pair of blue tits showed a good deal of interest in the box, but then they clearly found a better house nearby.

Perhaps this year I will be lucky, and a pair will nest there.