A couple of days ago my friend David phoned me to tell me that a WHITE THROATED SPARROW (a very rare visitor from America) had been spotted on my favourite wildlife reserve; Old Winchester Hill. I knew there was no way I was going to miss this bird and my dream came true when mum offered to take me to see it today! I was expecting good views after having a quick look on Birdguides at Gary Thoburn's amazing shot of the Sparrow (Click here it see it).
Upon arriving we were greeted by lots of Swallows and House Martins...
... and I was reminded at just how beautiful this SSSI really is. Old Winchester Hill is home to many vulnerable and endangered species of butterflies, wild flowers and landscapes.
The White throated Sparrow was actually first seen on the hill back in November but because the site is so vulnerable and delicate, the warden decided that the bird's presence there was to be kept a secret for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, it's cover was blown and we now have 100s of birders visiting the site everyday. Sadly, a few twitchers fail to understand the real importance and delicacy of the hill and cannot see why they weren't told about this 'mega' sooner.
The Sparrow wasn't very hard to find (just look for the crowd of birders!) but because it was showing so well, it was very hard to get a good view, let alone a good photo. Lucky, a very kind twitcher gave up his spot at the front for me and I was able to get these shots of it as it perched on the brambles.
Eventually the fun had to finish, the Sparrow flew into the undergrowth and it was time to let someone else enjoy the moment.
But the birding wasn't over yet... oh no. Yellowhammers were just about everywhere; feeding in the grass and singing in the trees. This bird was very obliging and let me get quite close...
He then flew into a nearby tree and certainly showed his stuff...
There were at least 10-11 pairs of Willow Warbler around the reserve and I was lucky enough to find a pair building their nest in some brambles.
Spot the warbler...
A closer view...
Also on the hill, I heard a couple of Sedge Warblers and 3-4 Bullfinches were singing in the trees near the Sparrow.
Linnets were also very abundant and the males were looking superb...
The hill is home to most of Britains butterflies but today only a Brimstone and a couple of Clouded Yellows were flitting about...
If your thinking of going to see the Sparrow, good luck... you won't be disappointed!
Hi Billy :-)
Well done for getting that Sparrow. Love your pictures, lovely to see so many different species of birds on the reserve.
Well done Billy, lucky you for finding that sparrow!
When I was in Spain I was told by a young Swiss birder that there was a Wilson's Phalarope in the area, but we couldn't find it :(. So well done, and good photos too!
Congrats Billy on getting the Sparrow plus a great series of pictures.
Great photo's Billy, looks like an excellent spot for Twitchers like you and it was good of your mum to drive you there!!
Well done, Jackie.
Oh well done Billy - what excellent shots of the Sparrow too.
Sounds like a really exciting day and what a great Mum you have :D
Lynmiranda- Thanks. The hill was so rich with birds when I went. Probably because all the summer migrants are just coming in.
Ben- Unlucky with the Phalarope, mate! It comes in handy that we know the area so well... it was easy to find the bird!
Frank- Thanks for the kind comments :)
Jackie- Thanks Jackie. The site is a great spot for passing rarities. It was very kind of mum to drive me there... thanks mum!
Tricia- Thanks, it was a very exciting day and I have a great mum!
... and dads not that bad either!! ;)
Hey there - just found your blog while browsing; I'm pretty sure that we were taking pictures of the same yellowhammer (great shots, and you seem to have got better views of the sparrow than me)! There's some really good stuff in your blog too.
All the best
I was West of London that weekend - any other visit and I'd have been in Liss about 7 miles away when the sparrow appeared, but just happened to be over in Somerset for the day. Great pictures though, makes missing out a little easier to bear!
Mark- Yep, we were photographing the same Yellowhammer, what a wierd way to meet!
Fst0pped- Thanks for the comments, unlucky with the Sparrow though. The little guys been there since November and doesn't seem to be showing any signs of leaving so I'm sure you still have time to see it.
"... and dads not that bad either!! ;)"
Not that bad? That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me! ;-)
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