The humble house sparrow may not be the most glamorous of our garden birds, lacking the showy colours of the blue tit or the twinkling song of the goldfinch, but nevertheless they have a beauty and charm all of their own.
Several weeks ago, during a spot of lunch at a peaceful riverside cafe we were joined by a small family of these sociable birds, their beady brown eyes watching us curiously from the nearby hedgerow.
Peering out from above the hedgerow
Autumn had already begun to take hold, the vegetation splashed with vibrant red rosehips providing a lovely seasonal backdrop on which to photograph this female house sparrow.
Female sparrow among the rosehips
Quite used to the comings and goings of the human visitors, these particular sparrows were much more approachable than those back at home and sat quite happily on the rope fencing beside our table just a few feet away.
On the ropes
At such close proximity I could really appreciate the subtle details of the sparrows’ plumage as well as observe some interesting aspect of their behaviour.
I watched with interest as several males plucked tiny strands from this rope fencing before flying off into the undergrowth in what appeared to be nesting behaviour.
This may seem unusual and rather late in the season but as long as there is enough food available, house sparrows are able to nest late in the year and have up to three broods per season. With ample food provided by the cafe table scraps, these sparrow were clearly taking full advantage of all their habitat has to offer.
A beak full of rope fibres
Sure enough, no sooner had we vacated our table did the opportunistic sparrows move in, hopping around eagerly to collect our crumbs before the next customers sat down to lunch.
The clean up crew
All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © www.greyfeatherphotography.com