Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager

My birthday tends to fall either side of the Easter weekend which, when i was younger and at school was always a real bonus. It meant we had two weeks off, time to play outside and if we were lucky, lots of chocolate!

My memories of this school holiday always make me smile. The sun constantly shone and we never ever stopped having fun. My brother and I always wore our adventure badge with pride; permanently grazed knees, something we regularly showed off. Time in our back garden only came to an end when the sun went down or when tea was put on the table. 

A particularly sweet memory of mine from our annual Easter holiday is the baking! I’m certainly no Nigella Lawson, but I reckon she’d have been at the front of the queue waiting for our treats. The recipe was simple; shredded wheat, stirred into vast quantities of melted chocolate and moulded into the shape of a nest, left to cool for 30 mins and served with a healthy portion of mini-eggs! They were simply amazing, if slightly indulgent.

Nowadays, i’m less guided by school term times and more watchful of my waistline. As an adult, i’m always amazed at how quickly those school breaks come around. But, this weekend, I bet kids everywhere will be rushing out to make their own variation of chocolate Easter nests. And while they are busy getting covered in melted chocolate, i’ll be having my own nest adventure. Our delightful blue tit couple have been putting the finishing touches to their own nest and it’ll soon be ready for some real eggs. They’ve been using all sorts of nesting material too, shredded wheat isn’t anyway near posh enough for these little birds! Twigs, bits of fur, hair, grass, leaves have all been added to their comfortable new pad.

If like me, you too have a nest box in your garden, and you’ve noticed that the birds have been much more active, then this weekend could be prime egg-laying time. They’ll be getting their home ready for their new family, making sure it’s safe and comfortable and doing all kinds of funny checks. My male blue tit has spent a lot of time tapping round the edge of the nest box hole. This is his way of showing off to his new partner. Sometimes the female will also do this, just to make sure the wood is good enough to provide her and the family with a safe nest site.

Whether you’ll be indulging with a recipe book or watching your own nesting birds at work, take some time to enjoy the outdoors this weekend. Visiting an RSPB reserve near you will offer a great Easter experience for all the family, with plenty of time left for making chocolate treats on your return!

Article in the Eastern Daily Press, 23 April 2011