Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Moving House Sparrows

A couple of days ago I saw the best bird I’ve seen all year: a House Sparrow. Of course, I’ve seen thousands of these chirpy chaps over the years, and quite a few this year already; but this bird was different - this bird was in my garden. I’ve not seen one House Sparrow in my garden during the 11 years I’ve lived in this area. Unfortunately, the only way to get one in my garden was to move house.

I saw the bird on the day I moved in, while I was unpacking. The smart male sparrow sat on the ornamental bush in the front garden; it didn’t seem at all fazed by me grinning, pointing, and shouting the good news to my family.

House Sparrow, Howden (Paul Marfell)

We’d lived at our previous address for over a decade, and despite watching out for spadgers all through that time, I didn’t pick one out among the 27 species I did see. Probably due to all the cats. But now we’ve moved a mere 200 metres to a new house, and they’re everywhere. In fact, I’ve spotted them coming in and out of a hole under the eaves of our house – hopefully they’ll nest here – and I’ve seen them carrying nest material in the neighbour’s garden.

It feels apt that I should move in and get excited about these little sparrows on the same weekend as World Sparrow Day. The House Sparrow has been in serious decline over the previous 15 years or so, particularly in England. There's extra bad news for the sparrows in my garden - the second bird I saw over the house on moving day was a Sparrowhawk…

Since moving in I’ve also been watching one of my other favourite birds – Jackdaw. Late in the afternoon I watched as a flock of Jackdaws appeared over the nearby houses, wheeling around acrobatically. It took me a moment to realise the loose flock was made up of pairs, with each pair flying close together, following one another. I'm not sure I’ve seen this paired “sky dance” before – I’m sure I would have noticed this graceful formation flying if I had. It was a dramatic sight, with at least 25 pairs over the garden. After a couple of minutes, the sky cleared and the birds went back to their respective rooftops and continued to drop sticks down chimneys…

More of Paul’s photos from Howden, North Yorkshire, are on Flickr:
Howden Wildlife

No comments:

Post a Comment