A unique new project has been launched to monitor London's birds, particularly those migrating through, but also some of our favourites, like the peregrines and swifts.
Urban Birder David Lindo takes the credit for securing this unique partnership in the heart of the City. The owners of Tower 42, the City's tallest building have generously agreed to allow expert bird watchers on to their roof to look out for, and record, migrating birds passing overhead. There's an awesome and uninterrupted view from the roof and on clear days I'm told you can see the green edges where London "ends".
We believe this is the first artificial, high-rise monitoring platform in the world and the RSPB is delighted to be a partner in the project along with the BTO and London Wildlife Trust. Swallows and sand martins are already arriving in the UK and swarms of swifts have been spotted over Italy heading our way, so soon we'll be welcoming many of our summer visitors.
Partnerships with building owners and managers are becoming increasingly important for London's wildlife. They have the ability to help support species like swifts and peregrines. It's our responsibility to work with them so they can work in harmony with wildlife. I keep coming back to this notion that London is not just ours, we people share it with millions of other creatures and we can and should recognise them, welcome them and enjoy them. Birds, animals and plants enrich our lives and add colour, sound and entertainment to our lives.
The people at Tower 42 have been amazing and are as excited as us about the future and what the monitoring will reveal. We know woodcock, egrets, swallows and many more birds pass through or over London, including a growing number of red kites. But it will be interesting to see what else uses the River Thames estuary and valley as a migratory route in and out of the UK. One thing we'll all be looking forward to is the mass winter migration of woodpigeons. Yes, most of the ones we see stay here all year round, but thousands more can be seen each year .. if only time is taken to look-up!
Speaking of wood pigeons, the species has toppled starlings and house sparrows as Greater London's most common garden bird in this year's Big Garden Birdwatch. Don't panic though. The result also reflects the fact that this past winter has been the harshest and longest we've had for a while. It may well have killed thousands of our smaller birds who would have struggled to find food and keep warm. Our Make Your Nature Count summer survey should give an indication of the true impact.