Country diary: a long-tailed tit’s nest lies among the bluebells

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Welburn, North Yorkshire: Its colours and textures are those of a forest or a world, myriad and fractal

There’s been an edginess to this May. Blackthorn and hawthorn blossomed side by side and drought-stunted bluebells started flowering just five centimetres above the ground. They now seem to be compensating with intensity of colour – a beyond-blue that presses on my retinas, hinting at worlds beyond the limits of my senses and understanding. Worlds seen by kestrels and by bees, smelled by badgers, heard by foxes, felt by spiders.

Among the bluebells I find a nest, dislodged from nearby brambles by a predator. It is the size and shape of a child’s deflated football, but its colours and textures are those of a forest or a world, myriad and fractal. It is made of moss, laced and bound by spider silk, then decorated with grey lichen and lined with feathers. The feathers spill from a hole in the side: their colours, shapes and sizes suggesting donations from all the birds of the wood.

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