Twitching an ‘American’ Horned Lark

A few weeks ago a female American Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris alpestris, praticola or hoyti subspecies) have been reported from the Staines Reservoirs, Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey and stayed on the same place ever since. This morning I had a business appointment just 15 minutes away from the reservoir so we gave it a go. The bird had again been reported in the earlier hours and the weather looked okay to visit the area.

Other twitchers were already watching this rare bird upon our arrival so it wasn’t too difficult to find it while feeding on the bank of the reservoir. Lights were rather unpleasant but we had great views of the bird. For me this species wasn’t new but the subspecies was (whichever it was). I saw wintering Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris flava) in eastern Hungary thousands years ago. Dani scored another lifer, the 9th in just 8 days. Some bad quality backlit photos tells the rest of the story.

This American Horned Lark was constantly feeding at the bank of the reservoir. Sony RX10 IV. © Gyorgy Szimuly

It often looked up for the observers and checked the sky for predators. Sony RX10 IV. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Very harsh lights and backlit didn’t really help in taking better photos. Sony RX10 IV. © Gyorgy Szimuly

It rarely came out to open areas although we didn’t have much time to spend with this rarity. Sony RX10 IV. © Gyorgy Szimuly

 

This birding was supported by Viking Optical.

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Italian Sparrow split accepted – a new lifer

It’s been a while I have been waiting for a split of the italian race of House Sparrow (Passer domesticus italiae). Now the International Ornitholgists’ Union (formerly IOC) has officially accepted the split and raised the subspecies to a species level as published in the update V3.3 on the IOU’s website. The Italian Sparrow (Passer italiae) split is another example of hybrid speciation and probably more will come.

Male Italian Sparrow in Cornino, Italy.

Male Italian Sparrow in Cornino, Italy.

Male Italian Sparrow at the Mediterranean coastline at Viareggio, Italy.

Male Italian Sparrow at the Mediterranean coastline at Viareggio, Italy. Images were taken by a Nikon CoolPix V1 compact camera.

I have seen this species for several times in northern Italy (Cornino) and western coastal Italy (Viareggio).

This species became my 2,179th lifer.

This is a way better photo of an Italian Sparrow by my Italian friend and bird photographer, Daniele Occhiato.