February 2001

There has been much in the press recently about dwindling numbers of common birds such as house Sparrows and Starlings. One example quoted was Kensington Gardens where regular bird surveys have been carried out for many years. A survey in 1925 recorded 2,603 House Sparrows; this had dropped to 885 in 1948; in 1975 only 544 were present; the number had fallen dramatically to 46 in 1995 and last November only 8 were found. Clear evidence of a decline it might seem.Male House Sparrow

Yet first results from an RSPB Garden Bird Survey reported by the BBC last week indicated that the House Sparrow is still the commonest garden bird by a long chalk. They are certainly alive and well in Sedgwick Lane where upwards of 30 can be seen and heard on and around the bird table each morning waiting impatiently for their breakfast feed. They appear to be very adaptable birds and quickly learn to master any new type of seed or nut feeder even those designed especially to deter them.

On the other hand Starlings do seem fewer in number but this may just be that there has not been the usual influx of continental birds this winter. Time will tell.

It has been noticeable in the last week that the birds are starting to sing a bit at first light, a sure sign that Spring is just around  the corner.

Later this month, providing there is no cold snap, the appearance of frogspawn will be another pointer in that direction.