Since at least last year (apparently) there's been an unusual sparrow near my house. At the end of march this year pics were posted publicly, and in early April it looked like this https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UGd1bWs86...Chard%2529.jpg
It's continuous presence at it's favoured hangouts (which are easily publically viewable) have been regularly publicised on the local Avon birding website, on which Keith Vinicombe has contributed a post suggesting that it could possibly be an Italian Sparrow, but this bird has received almost zero attention from local birders, so I thought I'd chuck it up here, in case anyone elsewhere might be interested in building up a picture of the pattern of occurance of phenotypically similar birds in the UK.
As was suggested by KV, the grey tips to the crown feathers have worn off to some extent by now, but the bird doesn't (at least yet) have a clean chestnut crown. Some pics over the last couple of days can be found here, thanks to local photographer Richard Scantlebury https://www.flickr.com/photos/richscats/
To my mind, the bird now doesn't look too dissimilar to this bird which is (apparently) an Italian Sparrow
oops,wrong link...I'll try find it in a bit...ok I'm rubbish at computers, but just found the pic I was trying to link to, and it's the bird from Tuscany on the wikipedia entry for Italian Sparrow, which has more grey in the crown than our bird currently does.
One thing I am trying to ascertain is whether or not there is more than one bird that looks like this in our colony ( which is presumably possible if it is itself a locally born hybrid), so my main question is this:- Is it possible to identify an individual sparrow by the presence/prominence of a white supra-loral streak and white post ocular spot, or are these features variably visible on a single individual, depending on how the adjacent feathers are being erected/flattened by the bird or by the wind? I am asking this because although I have yet to see two weird ones at once, images and observations in the field have been of a bird either with or without a white post ocular spot, and with the supra-loral streak variably prominent. Apologies for not knowing what's probably a very basic thing I should know by now about bird id!
Anyway, even if there's just one of these things round here, it's a pretty stunning bird, standing out with its white cheeks, pale unds, and more richly rufous background colour to its ups and flight feathers than its Housey companions. It comes down to food in an alley, it's always there, but no-one seems bothered about trying to get any ringers involved in trying to get a DNA sample to work out what it might be. Am I missing something? Has everyone got one of these in their yard? I guess it's not really interesting if you can't tick it as something. For me though, I can't help but find the concept of even a hybrid Spanish x House Sparrow (let alone a potential first for Britain) being regularly reported as being 100m from my house for months without attracting any birders, quite amusing :)
It's on Huyton Rd near Eastville Park if anyone wants to see it. Happy to give more details if anyone's interested.