28th August 2013
I managed to to get to Northrepps for a quick look at the possible Italian Sparrow that was noticed a couple of weeks ago and is still present in the same garden. There has already been quite a bit of discussion about this bird with no real consensus - opinions are split between aberrant House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow x House Sparrow or Italian Sparrow. For my part, I think that the largish bill, positioned high so that the forehead runs into it (rather than the visible forehead of House Sparrow) suggests at Spanish Sparrow involvement. Given the lack of streaking on the breast, I had wondered if it could be an F2 hybrid, but I suspect that this would show more grey on the crown, so my guess (and it is nothing more than that!) is that this bird is a Spanish x House Sparrow hybrid. This isn't perhaps as unlikely as it sounds - in 2009 at least ten Spanish Sparrows turned up in the Netherlands for example. Whatever the identity, I enjoyed watching the bird on a quiet and sunny day in the countryside, and as the keenest birders had already been, I had it to myself. As I walked back down Hungry Hill four Buzzards flew over and there were numerous Swallows and House Martins overhead.
You can find visiting instructions and more photos of the sparrow here, and Dave Appleton has evaluated the possible identity of the bird here.