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Mourning the London Sparrows

I am 67. In my foolish youth sparrows were regarded as a pest. Any garden had several flocks visiting, it was strange to see a lone sparrow. They chattered everywhere, were always fully occupying trees, were in constant combat with starlings (also gone) and if there was any chance of human food, a gang would be found. In my local cafe garden (Golder's Hill Park) they were there in their hundreds, taking dive bombing swoops on your buscuit crumbs. 
In the evening, one could see flocks travelling from hedge to hedge "common as a cockney sparrow" was a common air.
Now, their number has gone. An eagle eye can often see one or two, if your lucky maybe 5 to ten. Perhaps somewhere there will still be the big flocks... but alas they are few and have gone the way of my salad days..
 A joy they were, part of my heart and the tempo of London life. Considered an ugly bird, by the eyes of fools, considered a pest, but with such vivacity and joy of living, they would scrap for any morsel and were not afraid of the clang and cacophony of city life.

How I wish I could see them again, watch their little friendships, the drama of their loves and family crises. Their lives as short as ours and full of the same dramas and fortunes


  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    "Perhaps somewhere there will still be the big flocks".

    Our gardens. We are lucky to live in Edwardian houses with eaves that they nest under. It is lovely watching them learn to fly and flapping madly on the wisteria. New builds should have nest sites built in as standard. It's not difficult. Nest bricks are widely available. Swift nesting sites are disappearing too. We must do what we can.
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    I have plenty of sparrows and starlings in my garden in North Wales, also goldfinches, blue and great tits, robins, blackbirds and jackdaws.  Any time you're up this way you're welcome to come and watch them.  
  • ZeroZero1ZeroZero1 Posts: 577
    Good to hear people. When I say flocks were big, it was common to see a hundred or two in a flock. I have not seen that in a long while. 
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,177
    This year, we inherited our neighbour’s sparrows after he decided to trim a previously untamed privet hedge. The sparrows didn’t like the new seethrough tidiness and came 200 yards up the road to take over our raggle taggle so-called hedge.

    They have successfully bred somewhere in it and we have been enjoying their noisy banter in our garden.

    More untidiness required.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,007
    We have a small flock. They arrived a few years ago. They eat all the blossoms on my cherry plum every year and hide in it during the day. I'm not sure where they're nesting but it must be close by.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • ZeroZero1ZeroZero1 Posts: 577
    Where i live now in St Albans (north of London), I have 50ft or more of tall Beech Hedge on one side and a tall mixed hedge of the same size on the other. I only see my sparrows as lone soldiers, I can't even remember a pair. I am surrounded by woodland. I never see starlings, they used to number hundreds, and in Norfolk millions
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    edited July 2018
    I don't know about hundreds, but spring is certainly raucous here in North London. The families that nest under our roof seem to have three clutches a year. So it's pretty much non-stop. I do think that good nesting sites have a lot to do with decline in numbers. We are too tidy these days. Blame it on Ground Force.
  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 4,623
    Have moved from a city garden to a country one two years ago in the east midlands. In the city our area was the rallying point before roosting and it was not unusual to see a 100 starlings. Spadges or sparrows to you southerners 😁 were not quite as many but my garden had about 25 . Here the difference is the diversity is larger but the numbers are smaller strange as we are only about 12 miles away from our old place.
  • ChrisWMChrisWM West Berkshire Posts: 214
    We’ve been in the same house for nearly 30 years and not seen a decline, despite having to replace our soffits with plastic ones. We have a thick hedge in the front garden which is their debating area. 
    If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero
  • I grew up in London some 40 years ago  and certainly sparrows and their sheer number are an enduring ever present and a part of where I lived, you almost no longer noticed them.

    I have lived rurally for going on the last 20 years and rarely spend time in any city.  We do have sparrows in our garden but they are outnumbered by goldfinches.  It's too easy to take any of them for granted.
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