Sunday, 28 January 2018

Italian Sparrow...

It has to be said, I was in no great hurry to see this bird. It's been hanging around the same gardens in East Budleigh since mid November and when you know it's being described as a 'possible Italian Sparrow or hybrid' it's hard to find the incentive to go and have a look. Even though it's only 28 miles away I put off trying to see it, until today. Fellow birder Dave Helliar felt likewise but today we thought we'd make the effort to catch up with it and take a look for ourselves.

I have to say, this is not the 'easy' bird that we thought it would be. It's been visiting garden feeders in Cadbury Gardens (which the friendly lady owner has kept topped up for the bird) for the last couple of months. Almost exactly two hours after we arrived, it appeared. It looked at the feeders...and then left!  Everyone present had great views for about 15 seconds and I managed 6 seconds of video footage. Video grab below.

Possible Italian Sparrow, male: East Budleigh, Devon: R.Harris

It looks good to me, like any other Italian Sparrow I've ever seen, but whether it actually is or will ever be accepted as such is another matter. It could easily be a hybrid. It may have been easier to see early on in its stay but it seems to show every 2-3 hours now and certainly not for long. But then, it is heading into Spring and it probably has other things on its mind...

I would also like to thank to people who live in Cadbury Gardens - they are a very tolerant lot. Having an almost constant trickle of birders and photographers pointing optics in the general direction of your living room window, can't be easy and yet they have obliged our interest and allowed us to spend time watching and waiting for the bird to appear. What a great bunch of people!

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Local Birds December 17-January 18

Thanks to Dave Helliar for providing a round up of local birds from over the last 5-6 weeks. A heavy bout of (Aussie?) flu has seen Dave out of action for some time so good to see him back on his feet and out birding again.

Firecrest in Dave's back garden just before Christmas.
What and early Christmas present!

Fieldfare at Forde Abbey. You'd travel a long way
to twitch one if they were rare.
Kingfisher on Dave's local patch

Black Redstart, male - Seaton Hole, Devon

Black Redstart, male - Seaton Hole, Devon
Such smart birds.
Hawfinches continue to delight the masses. This one
was 1 of 12 at Cattistock Church in Dorset.

Corn Bunting, Maiden Castle, Dorset
Probably the most reliable site to see these once common birds.
Ruff at Lodmoor, Dorset on 18 January

Marsh Harrier, Greylake RSPB reserve, Somerset

Green-winged Teal,drake - Greylake, RSPB, Somerset
Cheers to Dave for his photos. You can also follow him on Twitter @DHelliar.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

A Slow Start...but getting there

2018 has certainly gotten off to a slow start for me. A combination of work load, flu within the family and poor weather have all conspired to stop me getting out much.

The Hawfinch that graced the garden for just over three months, finally seems to have moved off, being last seen six days ago and other than a visiting Brambling or two, it's been very quiet in the garden.

Today I managed to get in a round walk between Seaton and Seaton Hole in the drizzle with Jake. A couple of Black Redstart were seen along the beach between Seaton Hole and Seaton, including a smart male - presumably the same bird I found back on 4th November last year, though only the female posed for photos today.

A damp and drizzling Seaton this afternoon
Black Redstart, Seaton Hole

Black Redstart, Seaton Hole
Brightening things up a little was a Grey Wagtail picking insects off the pebbles at Seaton Hole end of the beach.

Grey Wagtail, Seaton Hole

Grey Wagtail, Seaton Hole
On the way back I did a quick check of the gulls building up in numbers just north of Coronation Corner but there was nothing of note, not even a med. Fingers crossed the recent Caspian and/or Glaucous Gulls will make a return visit soon.