Thursday 29 August 2013


A male Italian Sparrow photographed in the core of this species' range...

A male House Sparrow in Hungry Hill, Northrepps (East Norfolk)..

...and the male 'Italian' Sparrow currently residing at 27 Hungry Hill.

I was struck at how big and bulbous the bill looked compared with the male House Sparrow's - a feature I noted from Italy - and although this male is missing the characteristic hint of a superciliary, it certainly bears a chestnut crown, very white cheeks and paler 'tramlines'.

The Italian Sparrow occurs in northern and central Italy. In the north of the range, it forms a narrow zone of intergradation with House Sparrow, from about Imperia in the west (following a broad arc along the Alps) to Monfalcone in the east. South of Naples, there is an extensive clinal zone of intergradation with Spanish Sparrow, extending through southern Italy to Sicily and Malta. Post-breeding movement/dispersal of the northern population has been noted in southern France and Austria, whilst Italian Sparrows seem to breed widely on Corsica.

The UK400 Club considers Italian Sparrow as a species in its own right following the results in 2001 of a detailed study on the form by a number of scientists - 
  1. Hermansen, Jo S.; Sæther, Stein A.; Elgvin, Tore O.; Borge, Thomas; Hjelle, Elin; Sætre, Glenn-Peter (September 2011). "Hybrid speciation in sparrows I: phenotypic intermediacy, genetic admixture and barriers to gene flow". Molecular Ecology 20 (18): 3812–3822.

Massive arrival of WRYNECKS

Since last Thursday, over 170 WRYNECKS have arrived in Britain following a spell of light SE to NE winds. Many have been trapped and ringed like the individual depicted below, and in the majority of cases, all are juveniles with a dark rather than pale iris. Being a species I am particularly fond of, I could not resist mopping up a fair few of them - and my gallery of shots from the period follows :-

Tuesday 20 August 2013

25th Anniversary of the Rutland Bird Fair

I cannot believe it is that long, particularly as I have attended each and every one at some point over the three days of each event. This year's event was bigger and brighter than ever, with over 400 stalls spread over no less than 8 marquees - simply massive - and too big to cover in just 9 hours !!

I met up with birding friends from Home and Away and cherished a few moments with each of them as I steered my way from marquee to marquee - it's so sad that I see so many of them just this once per year. Anyway, with camera in hand, these were the displays that most caught my eye.........

Tropical Birding's stand was particularly welcoming - 

And this one from D.Smith Glasscraft was particularly pleasing on the eye

The Art Tent was crammed full of gems

But this craftsmenship from Nicola Threakston was simply out of this world. GHer ceramic sculptures were sensational -

John Gale's Artwork was simply sumptuous...

And LGRE at a Ringing Session - that's a first if I ever saw one

And chatting to my good friend Alan Davies at the Leica stand was this multi colour-ringed Little Egret. 

Rumours abounded that I was DJ'ing the gig but, after 9 long hours trudging the mud-spattered paths, I had to rush back to see these two beauties

Carmel and my grand-daughter Jade - a date I just could not miss