I was downstairs in front of the computer before 6.30am this morning ready for early departures. The chicks were being fed and although there was a lot of preening and moving about There was no sign of any chick heading for the door until after 7am.
The picture shows the most enthusiastic chick at the entrance while dad fed another. Dad had to push past the chick to get back out and moments later it left too (at 7.17am).
As soon as the first chick left the rest fell into a silent pause which seemed to last for ages.
Eventually the parents resumed food deliveries and until a few minutes before 9am the chicks showed no interest inthe entrance. Then, while mum was in the box a chick started flapping its wings and flew up to the entrance and perched there.
Mum had to push it aside in order to get out of the box. It stayed for a couple more seconds before following her out.
There was a short pause while the next in line stretched and tested its wings before it too headed for the exit.
The fourth chick followed quickly,
as did number five.....
Number six followed after a short pause.
Some wing flapping signalled the readying of chick seven to leave.
The last two, hanging on for a short time, found the parents still willing to bring food to the box.
Number eight then found it had the box to itself and was reluctant to take the plunge. Here, mum has come to feed it.
The chick took a look out just after mum left but thought twice about it and spent the next few minutes lloking a bit lost in the otherwise empty box.
When it started showing signs of getting ready to leave it found the only corner not covered by the camera to do this exercise.
... and then it was time to leave, and for the first time since the middle of April the nest was completely empty.
Over the next couple of hours the parents came to the box entrance several times and on at least one occasion the mum entered and spent a short time inside before leaving again.
After they had all left, Sheila and I went down the garden to see if we could spot any of the chicks. Their calls confirmed that they were well spread out over our and the neighbours' gardens. However this picture represents the only one I saw.
I will finish off the diary as the next couple of weeks as the parents stop feeding the offspring and they disperse into the neighbourhood.
For the second year the blue tits have honoured us with their presence and tolerance. It has been fascinating to follow progress and compare the two seasons.
I have had a lot of kind comments and encouragement from people all over the UK, in Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Canada (both eastern and western extremities), many parts of the USA and Mexico.
Thank you all. Hopefully I will be able to repeat the whole thing again next year ( If the blue tits co-operate, of course!).