Country diary: the shy side of our cheeky sparrows

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Claxton, Norfolk: House sparrows may have earned a reputation for audacity, but they’re also cautious and camera-shy

It’s a customary ritual at ours to take out the previous night’s scraps to feed the sparrows. Brown and anonymous in plumage they may be, but the birds are also invariably invisible at the hedge bottom, where they maintain a perpetual, self-absorbed palaver.

The amusing process usually goes something like this: the mere sound of the door sparks a lull in proceedings and my appearance imposes instant silence, the noise of food scraping arouses a slight renewal of conversation, and the click of the closing door turns that palaver back on as if it were a switch.

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