Monday, 20 April 2009

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) - Old Winchester Hill, Hants. 19/04/09

White-throated Sparrow.

I couldn't resist the lure of going to see the White-throated Sparrow at Old Winchester Hill in Hampshire, having seen an array of superb photos on Birdguides I decided that as soon as the weather improved I would take a visit to see it. Sunday brought fine weather and with the sun high in the sky I headed off to Hampshire in search of the White-throated Sparrow.

We arrived at Old Winchester Hill and after finding a space in the car park we headed off to see the Sparrow, a dozen or so birders were standing just inside the gate to the reserve viewing the pathway to our right as we entered the reserve.


I set my scope up and got talking to an nice old chap who told me he had originally found the bird in November and had been feeding it from his car. We were talking for a couple of minutes and then the bird appeared briefly on the pathway in front of us, I struggled to see it a first and was kindly put on to it as it hid behind a dock leaf on the side of the path. It continued to eat seeds from behind the dock leaf only briefly popping it's head up and then flew back in to the bushes. I hardly had time to see the bird and after learning that it disappeared for an hour at a time and then returned I decided to wait for another view, I certainly didn't want my first ever sighting to be a brief view and quick tick. I waited patiently for the Sparrow to return getting the chance to digiscope Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Chaffinch and Robin while I waited. A Marsh Tit appeared in the bushes next to the pathway and not being able to resist free sunflower hearts it dropped to the ground to feed. True to fashion it didn't hang around long and as I went to take a photo it flew off.

Willow Warbler.



For about an hour I scanned the bushes watching everything that moved, Blue & Great Tit, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Robin all coming to feed on the seed and raising everybody's hopes when they did so. Suddenly the White-throated Sparrow appeared on the pathway and it quickly began feeding on the seed, I was desperate to get some decent photos and didn't know whether to digiscope or view the bird through the scope, whatever I was going to do I had to do quick as I was advised that the bird can often stay for a couple of minutes before disappearing. I decide to get as many photos as I could and having the camera set up on continuous shoot I placed it against the scope eyepiece and snapped away, after taking 50 or so photos I viewed the Sparrow through the scope getting some fantastic views as it fed in front of us. After being on view for a couple of minutes it disappeared back in to the undergrowth and out of sight. A very enjoyable day to say the least.

White-throated Sparrow.

The Viewing Area.

Old Winchester Hill.

Awaiting The White-throated Sparrow.


Eva Dolores said...

Great photos! The last one makes me want to get my spotting scope and join the fun. Birding in groups is the best. You never miss a thing.

*I Donated To Cornell Ornithology*

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read this post. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

Dah Professor said...

I was doing some research to find out if White-throats ranged as far as England when I found your blog. Nice shots of the WTS. You were very lucky to have a male visitor with such bright yellow lores!
Check out if you'd like to see more of this guy.