Archive for Nov 7th, 2013


More on ‘that’ Sparrow

It’s now almost three months since the Sparrow showing features of Italian Sparrow was first seen on the 16th August at Falcon Cottage. Obviously with such a bird the only way of determining its true identity would be DNA analysis; although I am aware a description and photographs have already been submitted to the BBRC by someone who came to see the bird. To all those people who came to see the bird hoping for an ‘armchair tick’ I must offer my apologies. A DNA sample was never obtained although we did try.

After the young had fledged our first port of call was the nest. Have you ever seen a Sparrows nest? Enormous. I ‘supervised’ from the ground as Andy ’the monkey’ Benson retrieved a large carrier bag full of nesting material. Once we sorted through the several thousand feathers in the bag we ended up with a couple of likely candidates from ‘the’ sparrow – but to be fair nothing we could rely upon.

Our best chance of a DNA sample was to catch the bird and hope it shed a feather in the process of being ringed. We sought a ringer and found one. He came once and ringed several birds but despite teetering in the direction of the mist nets our target never succumbed. The ringer was called away to foreign climes so never had the opportunity to return. By the time we found a replacement ringer that had the time and/or the motivation to finish the job the sparrow had promptly disappeared. The last time I saw him was on Friday 27th September when he was sat on the hedge at the back of the house preening. Frustratingly a feather he removed caught the wing and flew over my shoulder at warp speed into the field never to be seen again.

So it remains to be seen if he returns through the winter or maybe next spring when we will try again to catch him. Rest assured I’ll keep an eye open should he avail himself to the rich pickings at the bird table.

In the meantime one or perhaps two young male sparrows have started to develop quite white cheeks and brown/grey crowns … hybrid sons of sparrow?

2013 09 20 Sparrow sp Northrepps Norfolk_Z5A1298

A final picture of the old boy after he’d completed his moult one week before he disappeared.

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Nov 2013


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