GREAT excitement at Hextol Towers – after five fruitless years, it seems we have attracted new residents to the little annex down the garden.

A pair of blue tits have been popping in and out of the 2p sized hole in the bird box for several days now, and we are hopeful they will raise a family there.

We used to have blue tits every year in our old bird box, until it finally rotted away and fell off the rowan tree one cold winter’s night.

Fortunately, it was unoccupied at the time, but there was a cosy cocoon of dog’s hair, scraps of wool and moss and other bits and pieces lying among the debris which had clearly been used by many titmice over the years.

I recall one occasion being summoned by Mrs Hextol who said there was some sort of altercation going on at the entrance to the bird box, with much fluttering and squawking, which Mrs Hextol took to be a new bird trying to get into the box when it was already occupied.

I thought this unlikely, and went to have a closer look, and found that the flapping bird had somehow got its leg entangled in dog hairs inside the box, and was hanging upside down. I managed to get hold of it, and gently slackened the constricting hairs, fully expecting the bird to snuff it as its heart was threatening to explode from its little chest.

However, once free, it rewarded me with a hefty peck and a copious poo, before flying off at a rate of knots.

I thought it would abandon the family home after its brush with death but later that day it was back with a beakful of green caterpillars to feed the clamouring offspring.

I mentioned the demise of the original bird box in this column at the time, and a kindly reader presented me with a brand new one, in every way superior to the Rachman-style slum which had preceded it.

I hung it on the rowan tree with every confidence, but that spring, while many blue tits stuck their heads in and had a look round, none was prepared to set up home there.

This was despite the fact there was an abundant supply of food right outside the door on the bird table and in innumerable feeders, enough fresh hair to stuff a cushion from the perpetually moulting dog and a marked absence of my pet hate, cats.

It stayed vacant for many years, and Mrs Hextol suggested that perhaps it needed cleaning out inside, as the many time-wasters may have dropped unsavoury bits and pieces through the hole.

I said this was unlikely and told her: “When blue tits nest in a hole in a tree, they don’t have cleaners in to remove the debris from previous occupants. They just get on with it.”

But last December the rowan tree was the focal point of the Hextol Towers Christmas decorations, which involved winding many yards of blue and white flashing lights round the trunk.

In the process of wire winding, I dislodged the bird box, which hit the ground hard, and bounced quite some way.

I thought it was broken, but apart from a bit of a crack, it seemed fairly robust and once Christmas was over, I hung it up again, albeit at a fairly jaunty angle.

It looked as though it has survived an earthquake, and Mrs Hextol urged me to take it down, as no self respecting bird of any species would want to make its home there.

I ignored her of course, and once spring had sprung, all the blue tits calling for their ration of peanuts started looking round the crooked house with more interest than they have ever shown before.

And now, there is a chain gang in operation, with the two birds carrying bits of fluff, moss and – of course – dog hairs through that little hole in deadly earnest.

They must have brilliant radar, because they fly in at full tilt and never touch the sides.

Hextol Towers is home to many species of birds, with the hedges usually boasting the nests of blackbirds, thrushes, greenfinches and collared doves, not to mention the rumbustious squadrons of the Bash Street Kids of the avian world, our resident sparrows, which hog every scrap of food from the bird table.

But of course, those bonny blue tits are my favourites, and let’s hope they raise a happy family in their crooked house.