Never pass a “passer” by!

Today was an admin day by and large, but I did manage three new bird species in and around our garden: Long-tailed tits seem to like the hedge that runs down the outside of one edge of the garden – on the path of the old railway line into Wells. And we have a couple of collared doves that are always around, but which I only noted down officially today.

long-tailed tit in our garden in Wells (photo taken in 2018)

And then there are sparrows: The family ‘Passeridae’, or Old World sparrows includes, in the UK, two main species – the tree sparrow (passer montanus) and the house sparrow (passer domesticus). The dunnock, which is sometimes known as a hedge sparrow, is actually from the accentor family. Both species have been in a steep decline, but there are signs of recovery in recent years. According to the RSPB the house sparrow was “recently estimated as dropping by 71 per cent between 1977 and 2008”, and the tree sparrow a loss “estimated at 93 per cent between 1970 and 2008”!

house sparrow (photo taken in 2018)

When I was a child house sparrows were everywhere, and when I got into birdwatching aged about 13 I quickly dismissed them as being far too common! But that all changed with their rapid decline. When we moved to Wells-next-the-Sea five years ago there were no house sparrows in our garden. There was a small colony a few hundred yards away, and they finally spread to us after about two years or so.

Tree sparrows are much more limited in numbers (about a 20th of the house sparrow population) and so it was interesting that in this ‘race’ I saw tree sparrows on day one, as we have them around the house in Scotland, but didn’t get to house sparrows until today.

Brenda was in Warham today…”which has two churches – All Saints Parish Church and St Mary Magdalene Chapel of Ease. I was keen to check out St Mary’s because of the very special snowdrops that grow there, and in the garden of the Rectory behind it. The gentleman who lives there informs me there are up to nine different varieties of snowdrop. What I didn’t know is that one variety is named after the village!    

Galanthus plicatus Warham is said to have been found in a garden at Warham by the Reverend C. Digby and supposedly, before that, brought back from Crimea by returning soldiers circa 1855. It is tall and has a half oval green mark at the tip of the flower. The flower heads of this clump in the churchyard were not open today so I will be keeping a close eye to identify this one.”

snowdrop in Warham
“One of my favourite views, from All Saints churchyard across the valley of the River Stiffkey to Wighton.” Brenda

Our 2023 morning conversation now tends to go like this:

S: Any moths in the moth trap this morning?
B: None – just a couple of small slugs!

Maybe there will be moths tomorrow…. 🙂

New species for January 6th:
Birds: long-tailed tit, collared dove, house sparrow
Flowers: snowdrop

Birds = 58
Moths = 0
Wildflowers = 8