Nick Baker's Nesting Favourites – No. 4
"The classic cup shape is what might first come to mind when we hear the word 'nest'. But several birds make nests that are more covered than this. Alongside the long-tailed tit, there's also the dipper, wood warbler, magpie and wren that go in for a more structured approach. The latter is one of those that turns up in all sorts of unexpected places around the garden. Just like the bird itself, they tend to have a mousey feel to them.
The nest is a grapefruit-sized cluster of grass, moss and leaves. It's hidden away deep in cover, in the corner of sheds, behind bits of tin leaning against walls, in dense ivy, on a bank and even on the ground.
This ball is accessed via a small hole, usually somewhere towards the bottom of the sphere. The reason gardeners discover so many is that the male builds not one but several. He will then, like a diminutive lovestruck estate agent, tour around with a female that has shown interest in his explosive voluminous song. If she’s impressed enough to stick around, she’ll choose one and take over with the interior decoration, lining the nest with moss, feathers and hair.
They can have two generations a year, and each nest can spit out 5-6 fledglings. The eggs are tiny - about 17mm x 13mm and white, with a variable amount of speckling concentrated at the blunt end."