AS spring unfolds, I like to paint with my studio door open so that I can hear the bird song.

I often get distracted by the wildlife outside and end up putting my paintbrush down to go and investigate. Last week, it was a pair of long-tailed tits that caught my attention. Not long after I had opened the doors, I heard the high-pitched ‘tsurp’ sound of a contact call between male and female.

These beautiful birds are among the earliest to start building their nests, so I grabbed a camera and headed out to investigate

Long-tailed tits are one of my favourite birds. They have soft pink feathers on their bodies and long black tails. It is this long tail that helps easily distinguish this species from others.

It didn’t take me long to find their nest, hidden in a berberis shrub close to the hawthorn hedge that borders my garden.

The delicate pink on their backs complemented the deep purple of berberis leaves. Even the brown pheasant feathers they carried in their beaks to line their nest with was perfectly matched.

It is very important not to disturb nesting birds in the breeding season, so I hid myself in a nearby bush and draped a length of camouflaged netting over me.

Long-tailed tits build domed-shaped nests that almost entirely encircle their eggs, save for a small entrance hole.

Made from moss and lichen, these are woven together with cobwebs - an ingenious touch, since this species is known for their large broods and the cobwebs stretch to accommodate the chicks as they grow.

I’ve heard of one pair having 15 chicks, although it is more usual for this species to have between eight to 12, so the nest needs to have a bit of ‘give’.

After photographing this pair for a few hours, I took a break and went into the front garden. Here I noticed a pair of wrens heading into the ivy that creeps up the garden wall. One, the male, carried a leaf in its beak.

I decided to take a closer look and noticed another nest, almost finished. Smaller and looser in structure to the long-tailed tit nest, this one was made of moss and leaves and, although also dome-shaped, the construction was a much messier affair.

I stayed still to watch what happened. The male was doing most of the work, carefully weaving the mosses and leaves into the ivy.

When he had finished, he started singing out at the top of his voice. Male wrens often build a selection of nests and then show them off to the females, leaving the final choice of accommodation to her.

These were the earliest bird nests to be built in my garden. But it wasn’t long before the other birds also began building and soon my garden began to resemble a busy, avian construction site.

There were robins hopping along the paths, carrying leaves with which to weave cup-shaped nests from. As they bustled about, they only narrowly avoided the blackbirds and thrushes that popped in and out of shrubs with grasses in their beaks, about to stitch together the beautiful cup-shaped nests they make from moss and leaves.

And everywhere were tree sparrows, of which I have some 35 breeding pairs here at Fotherdale, noisily chattering in the hawthorn hedge or investigating the terrace-style boxes I have built for them near the fence.

Higher up in the branches of the trees above, barn owls were also beginning to pair up and choose suitable nesting sites.

Owls and kestrels nest in holes in trees but will also raise their chicks in old buildings or barns and readily take to purpose-built nests, of which I have built many especially for them.

These birds of prey dig a shallow scrape into the floor of their nest to create a comfortable hollow for their eggs.

But this preparation pales in comparison to the energy, inventiveness, and sheer hard work the other, smaller, bird species in my garden put into their nests, using just their beaks.

Find out more about how birds built their nests at Robert Fuller’s latest art exhibition, Brilliant Bird Nests. The online event, is available to view on his website from April 1 – 30.