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Why is nothing straightforward?

Posted by on July 4, 2012 11:35 PM | 

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I was delighted to pull into Dempsey Towers this evening and hear a House Sparrow chirping away on the drainpipe above - a frustratingly rare bird on the garden list, despite the presence of a small, if obstinately sedentary colony about 200yds down the road.
Decided to have a look at it through the scope and was surprised to see a faint Tree Sparrow-like cheek crescent and rich, rich chestnut crown.

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Some grey on the top of the head, size, stout solid black bill, and a big untidy bib pointed to House Sparrow, but the bird had a hint of a pale Tree Sparrow collar to further confuse things.
No white mark behind the eye that an adult male House Sparrow should have either - a hybrid perhaps?
It sang (if that's the right word) like a House Sparrow, but one worth further examination if it sticks around I think.
Interesting anyway in the world of water I've been working in for the last few days - middle of an eight day shift out on the dunes and most days I've been wetter than an Otter's pocket by 11am as downpour after downpour sluices the coast.
Seems to be good for flora though, with Grass of Parnassus and Dune Helleborine starting to flower alongside the hordes of Marsh Helleborines etc.

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Nice new Common Spotted Orchid too.

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A Hobby ripped though over Sands Lake on Sunday, and after the tide today, between 20 and 30 Sandwich Terns, with a handful of Commons were roosting on the beach at Ainsdale.
Ralph Jones sent me this shot of a juv Wheatear taken in a quiet area of the coast with no public access - coupled with his record of an adult male Wheatear nearby last night (see comment on previous entry), it is arguably strongly suggestive of a successful breeding record, which would be fantastic.

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Apart from that, thanks to Tropical Thomason and Er Neill who have sent me their trip report and pix from eastern Turkey, in which Neill tackles the mounted division of the Turkish Army single-handed, Trops nearly loses it in a watery canyon and both of 'em nail one of the most enigmatic birds on the Western Pal list.
But before I post that thrilling tale, you're gonna have to tell me what you're seeing via the "comments" thingy...
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...

10 Comments

Marsh Harrier on Altcar Moss today and a Barn Owl quartering the field edges, I was watching the Owl when it started to head towards me, it flew past my head literally within touching distance. Absolutely ace!

May not be one of the hardest birds to nail in the Western Palearctic, but a female Whitethroat on the railings at the end of Princes Parade (just along from the Three Graces) was a pleasant change from the usual Starlings and gulls I usually see on my lunchtime constitutional.

I headed out on the bike around the Croston area recently and was struck by how many Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings were singing on the way out.
West Lancs seems to be a quite a healthy area for them based on the evidence of the last few weeks.
I got some great views of Oystercatchers piping away like billy-oh as they circled fields several times around the Sollom area.
Noise wise they were competing with a very loud Yellowhammer which was showing very well and a slightly more skittish Sedge Warbler.
I came across a pair of Mute Swans with five cygnets later on the river Lostock.
Also: strange looking leucistic feral pigeon in Ormskirk yesterday.

Saw 6 fresh Dark Green Frits. at Ainsdale yesterday.

Hi John, Early morning, A very wet Hobby on fence post between Crossens Inner and Marshside Two. Mike.

Three Common Sandpipers, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat at Sands Lake this morning.

Pennington Flash. 7th July.
Bunting hide waterlogged but still plenty of Bullfinches. Squirrels doing acrobatics over water to get to feeders. Sadly no Willow Tits today. 2 Sedge Warblers and 1 Reed Warbler near the canal section

Saturday afternoon at Marshside I had the following:-

3 Reed Warblers in front of Nels hide

From Sandgrounders hide

2 Little Egret
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Kestrel
60+ Black Tailed Godwit
400+ Starling
4 Oystercatcher

Amazing views of a Cuckoo at Ravenmeols this morning, as it nonchalantly flew from one cluster of trees to another on either side of the path. Seemed to be accompanying me on my way down to the beach! Great stuff. Shoreline and sea produced Sandwich Terns, Common Terns, Gannets, plenty of Curlew with the usual waders and a Grey Seal. Lots of Dark Green Fritillaries in the dunes.
Also I've noticed a real turn around in the Tree Sparrow population around Barton. Although they used to be a common sight, they seemed to have mostly disappeared a few years ago. I've been noticing them with more frequency on a day-to-day basis recently. Had a group of ten or so with young on a farm building near the Cutting earlier in the week and they now seem to have become a daily visitor to my feeders. Good stuff.

Common Terns, Sandwich Terns, Gannets, Manx Shearwater and a pair of Great Crested Grebes the pick of a mini-seawatch at Formby this morning.

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