Whilst searching through a few websites, about birding, I noticed that Lee Evans considers the Italian Sparrow as a full species. Quite a bit of science has been applied to this and it appears in the second edition of the Collins guide. So that when an apparent, “Italian Sparrow”, turned up in Norfolk, I thought it might be worth a trip to see it. About 500+ people had been to see the bird already, the bird was first seen about 20th August? A few calls later and we had a team, Mark from York and Steve K,  with a Friday morning departure. It was chucking it down as we crossed the Pennines and met Mark at junction 38 on the M1 at 7am. The journey down was a succession of wagons and cameras but it had stopped raining and looked promising for the day. We reached Northrepps, parked in the village and walked up Hungry Hill, an Egyptian Goose flew across a field and a farm breeding Turkeys gave the walk a festive feel. We settled down and waited for the sparrow to arrive, after an hour of House Sparrow watching the finder came out of his house with some advice, bread and seeds. This did the trick and after five minutes we were watching the “Italian Sparrow”. DSCN6591 DSCN6594 DSCN6600It was certainly different with its bulbous bill and chestnut crown and striking white cheek patches (Italian Sparrow has evolved by crossing Spanish Sparrow with House Sparrow). The sun was shinning as we headed for Salthouse beach and East Bank, Cley. Not that much happening at either place apart from Bearded Tit and distant Curlew Sandpiper. The news broke of White Winged Black Tern and Black Tern at Attenborough N.R. near Nottingham, as it had started raining we decided to head west. A call to try for Golden Pheasant at the triangle was again unsuccessful, well we did try! A long journey to Attenborough through Friday rush hour was made easier with the news that the birds were still present. We parked up and spent an hour watching these truly majestic marsh terns in action, what birds! Lots of people were present to see them and all were treated to great views. After rescuing a recently born Common Newt we decided to head for home. The M1 had other ideas, why do they choose to play with their new toys (speed restriction lights) on a Friday night? We reached junction 38 at 8pm and got home by 9pm. The debate will rage on, no doubt about the sparrow’s parentage,  but at least we managed to see it.

Dave O.

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