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Page last updated at 20:51 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 21:51 UK
Springwatch 2010: Norfolk thrush wins barmy nest award

Phoenix-like mistle thrush claims barmy nest crown

A bird raising her young at a fire training centre in Norfolk has survived a daily inferno to clutch the title of Springwatch's barmy nest 2010.

The mistle thrush's nest, based at Norwich Airport, is built in a structure used to train fire crews.

"We do feel responsible for her safety. She seems to have remained there through thick and thin," said Vanessa Haig, operations supervisor at Petans.

The first of the mistle thrush's two chicks fledged on Thursday, 17 June.

Springwatch's hunt for Britain's barmiest nest 2010 was launched by presenter Martin Hughes-Games in a bid to beat the blue-tit nest found in a railway crossing last year that tipped each time the crossing activated.

The Norfolk mistle thrush is probably the closest Springwatch has come to having a phoenix on the show!

"She's [the thrush] built her nest in a girder - that may not sound unusual, but what happens around her is certainly strange," said Vanessa.

"Various exercises take place around her nest, one of them is a fractured gas line. She'll feel the heat, be drenched on a regular basis. She'll also experience smoke and the noise of the fire-fighting operation.

"The team will apply a huge amount of foam which drenches through the grating and falls around and above the bird sitting on her nest.

"She sits there with it showering around her and it doesn't seem to bother her at all."

Barmy nest crown

Despite the mistle thrush's ability to dodge the flames, the contest to capture Springwatch's barmy nest crown was closely fought.

Mistle thrush
The mistle thrush has shown no signs of moving on

"There were two nests that were in contention," said Martin Hughes-Games.

"There was one at Warwick Castle and that was in the trebuchet, which is a siege engine which fires massive rocks to smash down castles. That was totally barmy, but we missed it - they'd fledged by the time we got there.

"It's mad, why do they nest in these barmy places?"

The reason why the flame-dodging nest in Norwich is still used remains a mystery, but the team is committed to looking after the hardy mother and her young.

"I don't know why she nests there. Maybe because it's elevated, protected from any predators," said Vanessa.

"We're sometimes nervous after a busy weekend... but the guys are really aware that she's there and even though it's not a macho thing to be thinking about birds they have certainly got an attachment to her," she added.




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