What’s bugging the cockney sparra
24 June 2012
London Communications Manager
They say wait a minute and three buzzes come at once. But research suggests Londoners have to wait longer than they used to for a buzzing insect.
For the Capital’s sparrows, that means there’s less to eat and many are starving to death in their nests. A lack of insects has recently been found to be a cause of death among young sparrows. Over the past fifteen years London’s house sparrow population has fallen 68%.
To help gauge how sparrows are faring, RSPB London is repeating a survey conducted a decade ago. The conservation charity wants to update its maps showing where house sparrows can be found, and importantly, where they’re missing.
Londoners are being asked to help save the cockney sparra by reporting sightings and non-sightings between 18 June and 12 July. No expert knowledge is needed, just time to sit and enjoy your outdoor space while noting down any sparrow sightings.
The Cockney Sparrow Count overlaps with the Royal Entomological Society’s National Insect Week, which is celebrating all that is great about British insects. The Cockney Sparrow Count is a partnership project with Greenspace Information for Greater London, London Wildlife Trust and other members of the London Biodiversity Partnership.
Cockney Sparrow Count champion Eleanor Reast said; ‘London used to be richer in sparrows and insects. Both are now missing from our gardens and parks. We believe increasing the number of grass and wildflower meadows will help, but we need to know where the need is greatest to ensure we target resources where they’re most needed.”
“The RSPB is urging everyone to step up for nature, by supporting the diversity of wildlife that make our gardens, parks and countryside throb with life. Insects are a vital part of that and essential for the future security of birds; so it’s entirely fitting to celebrate the birds, bugs and minibeasts that share London with us humans.”
The Cockney Sparrow Count is run by the RSPB in partnership with London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London, The London Biodiversity Partnership and others. More details can be found online at: www.rspb.org.uk/sparrowcount
The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. Find out how to get involved in ‘Stepping Up for Nature’ at www.rspb.org.uk/steppingup
National Insect Week [25 June to 1 July] happens every two years and is supported by more than 50 national partner organisations, including the RSPB, concerned about natural history and biodiversity. For more information, visit www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk and click What’s Going On.
National Insect Week is organised by the Royal Entomological Society and is supported by a large number of partner organisations concerned with many aspects of insect science, natural history and biodiversity.
Additional Quote: Luke Tilley, National Insect Week coordinator, said: “We have exciting plans in the pipeline including initiatives around insects and flight hosted by both Yorkshire Air Museum and the RAF Museum in Hendon. We are planning a series of high profile ‘bioblitzes’. We’ll also be working with a high profile chef to create some insect-themed menus to promote insects as a sustainable food source here in the UK. We will be marking the Diamond Jubilee of our Patron, HRH The Queen, by presenting her with specially bound copies of the Society’s definitive guide to British insects, which is being published in 2012. As usual, local and regional wildlife organisations will be hosting their own events up and down the country to allow children and adults explore the wonderful world of insects for themselves.”
The Cockney Sparrow Count will help London’s conservationists better target their efforts to help the house sparrow. The survey runs from 18 June to 12 July and sightings should be returned by 21 July. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/sparrowcount for details.
The RSPB is Europe’s largest conservation charity, working to save and support the UK’s urban and rural wild life and wild places. With more than a million registered supporters, we speak out for nature, champion development that brings economic growth alongside a healthy environment for people and wildlife, and aim to bring people closer to nature. www.rspb.org.uk/london.
- London Wildlife Trust is the only charity dedicated solely to protecting the capital's wildlife and wild spaces, engaging London's diverse communities through access to our nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and education. www.wildlondon.org.uk
Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL) is the capital's environmental records centre - we collate, manage and make available detailed information on London's wildlife, parks, nature reserves, gardens and other open spaces. www.gigl.org.uk/ GiGL has recently launched iGiGL which allows users to find out about publicly accessible wildlife sites and plan a visit - www.gigl.org.uk/igigl/map.aspx
- GiGL, London Wildlife Trust and RSPB London are proud members of The London Biodiversity Partnership, co-ordinating conservation work across the Capital: www.lbp.org.uk.