It’s not my fault if this blog is reduced to posts about my kid, things made with butter, or wild animals. I am surrounded. (I am really not joking. You should come visit.)
As it turns out, London is rife with wild animals. Sure, fine, I was expecting wellies and tea and double decked red buses, and perhaps the odd fox, but thousands of feral ring-necked parakeets? Nope, definitely not.
Anyways, a few weeks ago we ambled south through Chiswick Park and then east along the Thames footpath towards the Hammersmith Bridge, crossing over to the south bank and then working our way back westward along the southside footpath through Barnes, over the railway bridge and back up through the Park to our house. Essentially, we went on a long walk beside the river. It was nice. You can google it if you want.
Just after we’d passed St Paul’s school, educating gifted boys since 1509, I noticed a flash of green in the trees above our heads and heard a distinctive and decidedly brazen screech. After we stopped and investigated further we discovered at least 100 brightly coloured birds perched in the trees. I wondered whether they were escaped pets, and decided that we would henceforth refer to them as the Lost Budgies of Barnes (ok, so I’m not a bird enthusiast).
Fast forward a week or two to last night when I was skimming the news from home and stumbled upon an article about FERAL PARAKEETS TAKING OVER LONDON. According to the article, there are at least 8, 600 breeding pairs of parakeets in London (if my math is correct, that means there are over 17,000 parakeets in the London right now). Apparently the ring-necked parakeet is one of the most successful invasive species in the world, currently the fastest growing bird population in London. Faster than pigeons, you guys. That’s how you know it’s serious.
It gets fun when you start asking where they came from anyways. Some people believe that a pair of parakeets released by Jimi Hendrix in the 1960’s were the ‘Adam and Eve’ of the present parakeet population. Jimi Hendrix! Other think some escaped parakeets from the set of The African Queen, filmed in Isleworth Studies in 1951, are the culprits. Still others wonder whether some parakeets escaped from the London Zoo during the Blitz of 1940/41. The most boring option is the one that I wondered about myself on the banks of the Thames – pets, either “lost” or intentionally freed into the wild.
We probably will never find out where the first parakeets came from, and I think that’s ok. They’re here now, and so far they don’t seem to have had the negative effect on local bird species that was once feared. Lost Parakeets of Barnes? Nice to meet you.