A PERSISTENT high-pitched, far-reaching 'twee- twee- twee' call tells me that nuthatches are around. In fact, they're nesting in a tree hole in an ancient nearby oak, as they do most years.

A rather chunky bird about the size of a great tit, plumage of the upper parts is blue-grey with chestnut underparts, a bold black eye stripe long dagger-like bill and a short tail. The name nuthatch is derived from its ancient title 'nut hack', alluding to its habit of placing a nut in a crevice and literally hacking away at it (pictured). In my view, the original name seems to be a more appropriate title than nuthatch.

Nature Notes: It's a busy time for the birds and bees...

Quite an elusive and secretive species, but often very vocal, thus giving away its location, its main habitat is deciduous woodland and leafy parks where it walks up and down tree trunks and under branches with equal ease, searching for insects berries and nuts.

The nest is built in a tree hole and in order to prevent larger birds or predators entering, the female reduces the size of the hole with mud round the edges.

Nature Notes: Butterflies have much to contend with

Local nuthatches regularly fly down to my sunflower heart feeders and if other birds are already there it chases them off, pointing its fearsome beak in their direction to scare them away. In other words, he is very much top of the pecking order.