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Londoners Giving the Capital's Nature a Home

Last modified: 09 July 2013

Green alkanet

Simon Bradley's photo of some phacelia, charlock & grasses sown in his Islington garden.

Image: Simon Bradley

Londoners have created a series of wildlife stepping stones across the Capital by sowing wildflower seeds in their gardens.

We sent packs of specially selected, pesticide (Neonicotinoid) free, wildflower seeds as a thank you to everyone who took part in our 2012 Cockney Sparrow Count. The survey updated a similar one conducted ten years ago, and gave us a snapshot of how London’s house sparrow population changed in that time. Our research had found the birds suffered from a poor diet and needed more insects and more seed to eat.

Working in partnership with London Wildlife Trust, Green Information for Greater London and members of the London Biodiversity Partnership, we found little change. There was a hint that there are fractionally more house sparrows in the east of the Capital, and the cockney “sparra” remained virtually extinct in the inner boroughs.

Many of the participants already have lively outdoor spaces:

Lewisham residents Phil & Jane said: “We are pleased to report that we have various bees, hoverflies and seen our first Speckled Wood and Holly Blue Butterflies.”

Audrey from west London wrote: “I am currently very excited as I have seen some sparrows about; not many and it could be just one pair but still that is better than none. We used to have a lot.

Susan from Dartford said: “A variety of birds visit; sparrows, tits, robins, blackbirds, pigeons, collared doves, goldfinches, greenfinches and the occasional woodpecker. Slow worms can sometimes be spotted too.”

Mary from Petts Wood is worried about an apparent lack of bees: “When our apple trees were in full bloom we didn't see any bees. There have previously been bees on the wild garden, but today when it is sunny there aren't any; it is a worrying sign.”

Simon Bradley from North London separated out his seeds, sowing some in pots and some in his garden [pictured]. He says "Sparrows have become regular visitors to the feeder, which they used not to go near, and are using the bushes and shrubs for perching and for courtship. I can't see any direct connection with the wild flowers yet, but both changes are for the better."

The seeds we sent have been scattered over an area covering more than 250 square metres, which adds to and helps join the hectares we’ve sown in the Capital’s public parks and spaces with partners.

With the European ban on Neonicotinoids we campaigned for coming in to effect in December it’s a boost for pollinators. Together, these wildflowers won’t halt the loss of nature from London, but it does give bees, butterflies and other creatures a breathing space while we encourage more people to Give Nature a Home.

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by give nature a home where we live.

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