Sunday, 8 March 2009

Parrots in Richmond

This may be an odd subject for an author blog, but well it’s a quiet Sunday and I have edited until I am word blind. I visited a friend's blog and she mentioned seeing parrots in Twickenham. Several comments came in saying she must have been drunk, playing a joke or seeing things, but really, there are green parrots in Surrey and Middlesex – thousands of them.

In the spring and summer they congregate in the trees at the bottom of my garden in Richmond, they make a lot of noise but being so novel, it’s fascinating rather than annoying and they are beautiful because they really are bright green. According to BBC News Education:

Native to Southern Asia, the number of wild parrots living in England is rising at 30% per year, says an Oxford University research project. In the Surrey stockbroker belt, a single sports ground is believed to be home to about 3,000 parrots. Parrot hotspots are in the west of London, Surrey and parts of Kent, inner-London, including parks in Peckham, Brixton, Greenwich and Kensington.

All sorts of unproven theories abound as to how they came to be here:

• they were brought by Jimi Hendrix and escaped during the making of a film
• they were released from aviaries damaged during the great storm of 1987.
• the birds originally escaped from a container at Heathrow airport.

There could now be 20,000 wild parrots, including parakeets, living in England, with the largest concentration around London and the South East. The population boom has been put down to a series of mild winters, a lack of natural predators, food being available from humans and that there are now enough parrots for a wider range of breeding partners.

The bad news, is that they are increasing so fast, they may soon become a pest to farmers or threaten other wildlife. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), spokesman says parakeets are bigger and bolder than some of their native rivals - and "are quite capable of evicting other birds". They also like fruit and he says that if they moved into fruit-growing areas, it would pose problems for farmers.

But I love seeing them and hope they thrive.

1 comment:

Jen Black said...

I loved seeing them in Oz when we visited, but the locals seem bored with them. Noisy things, they say. I admired the egrets (or were they ibis?) lovely elegant white birds, and was told they nick the ice creams off kids.
It takes all sorts! Haven't seen any parrots this far north yet