Wednesday 12 June 2024

Sparrows at Covent Garden

The London Bird Club Wiki reported House Sparrows nesting in Covent Garden, and I went to see them. There are perhaps half a dozen. The nests are in the building in Long Acre that has Boots on the ground floor, in ventilators set between the windows, and the best place to watch them is from the corner of Covent Garden Tube station. This may be the only completely independent colony of sparrows in central London, as the colonies at Regent's Park Zoo and the Churchill Gardens Estate in Pimlico are sustained by feeding.

At the Round Pond the Little Owl was keeping up his watch in the nest tree, fluffed up to keep warm on a cold grey day. He'd be much more comfortable inside, but he has a job to do.

A young Long-Tailed Tit stared down from a tree near the Italian Garden.

Ahmet Amerikali got a picture of a Reed Warbler in the reeds under the parapet.

A Carrion Crow perched on a swan-necked urn. You can see the join where the urn was mended when the garden was restored in 2011.

Most of the songbirds have gone quiet now, but a Blackcap was singing occasionally.

Three Greenfinches were calling to each other on the west side of the Long Water.

The Grey Wagtail was using a wire basket at the island as a hunting station. I didn't see the fledgling.

The young Grey Heron was still at the Triangle. It was struggling to rip the last shreds off the carcass of a Feral Pigeon, but its bill is really the wrong shape for this. The pigeon was apparently caught by one of Pigeon Eater's followers, since Pigeon Eater himself was hunting at the other end of the lake.

He had just dived on a pigeon which had struggled free, leaving him just a few feathers in his beak.

The Great Crested Grebe chick on the Long Water kept an eye on its father as he swam below, hoping to intercept him when he came up with a fish.

The Coot chicks in the Italian Garden have started wandering from pool to pool, and you can no longer tell which brood they belong to. Five stood on the kerb with a parent.

The killer Mute Swan's mate was on the gravel strip in the Long Water, preening with her six cygnets.

The Greylag goslings, now teenagers, were near the boathouses. They still have their Canada helper.

The four youngest Egyptian goslings huddled to keep warm.

Two Red-Crested Pochard drakes crossed the Serpentine. They are still in breeding plumage ...

... but the Gadwall drakes are going into eclipse. They are inconspicuous in their grey breeding plumage and don't really need to change it while moulting their wings, but it's what ducks do so they go along with it.

The wildflower patch in the Rose Garden, which had some unsuitable cultivated flowers in the spring, has now gone properly native with corncockles, cornflowers and oxeye daisies.


  1. Wow, how exciting! Congratulations! It's a young bird by the looks of it, so that's very promising. Let's hope they will hold on and prosper.

    1. It would be wonderful if this was the start of a comeback. I do miss Sparrows a lot.

    2. Pretty sure I've seen them along Battersea Church Road. Keep an eye out if you're in that neck of the woods, they're fairly vocal.

    3. Yes, there are more south of the river, but few till you get up the slope.