24th May 2014

Whoops- I put the wrong name for the Skipper yesterday- it’s the Dingy Skipper, not the Grizzled (which is similar)! The rain has been torrential all day, so I’m focussing on the beleaguered Tree Sparrow which is now on the danger Red List but still present at local reserves like Old Moor, Potteric Carr, and a bit further afield at Blacktoft Sands and (a lovely, noisy colony we watched recently) at Bempton Cliffs. The population in the UK fell by a dreadful 93% between 1970 and 2008, due to changes in agricultural methods, but is very slowly improving in some places now. Tree Sparrows, common when I was young, are smaller and more active than House Sparrows. Male and females are similar– they have a  chestnut brown head, (compared to the House Sparrows grey cap) and white cheeks with a black cheek-spot. They nest in tree-holes but will use nest-boxes, especially if several are placed near each other, over 2 m above the ground, preferably away from housing, as they are shyer than House Sparrows. They have 2-3 broods a year.

Tree Sparrow- showing brown cap and black cheek-spot of both male and female

Tree Sparrow- showing brown cap and black cheek-spot of both male and female

Tree Sparrow in typical pose

Tree Sparrow in typical pose

As a comparison, a male Grey cap) and female House Sparrow

As a comparison, a male (left) and female House Sparrow

Conditions: Very heavy rain till late afternoon  when the rain broke to form showers. Temperature: Max 14 – Min 10 c.

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