Wildlife Columnist: Parrot flying in with the ‘wow’ factor

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We have a new member of the region’s avifauna, and one of my postgraduates, Miles Watchman, wants to hear from you about this remarkable phenomenon.

We need your records, be they recent or from years ago, since the earliest occurrences are as far back as the 1980s.

However, in recent times this stunning, bright-green member of the parrot family has increased dramatically. The population rise is mostly in south-east England around the Greater London area. Now across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, their numbers have also risen but nowhere near so much.

Nevertheless, today we are experiencing flocks of up to twenty or more ‘ring-necked parakeets’, though generally records are of just single birds or small groups. Over the last few years many readers have sent in records and pictures, and I hope this will continue as these spectacular birds spread evermore widely.

The story of their ‘escape’ and establishment in Britain is interesting too, and there are various suggestions doing the rounds. One idea is that they were deliberately imported to London as extras for filming ‘The African Queen’ at Isleworth Studios in 1951; and after the show was over they were simply released into the ‘wild’. Other explanations include escapees from pet shops and deliberate release into botanical gardens. Anyway, they are now truly established and doing very well. In northern England they don’t find successful breeding quite as easy as the young need a warmer temperature for a good while. However, although they breed less well in the north than down in the south-east, the numbers are still rising.

We are now trying to find out what people think about this new arrival to our region’s birdlife and to gardens, parks and woods where you live. The idea is to compare the views of people across our region with those from Greater London where flocks of five hundred or more are now commonplace.

To take part, go to: https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/we-want-your-views-on-ring-necked-parakeets/

This will help Miles with his studies and provide a real insight into how folk view this ‘British’ parrot.

Professor Ian D. Rotherham, of Sheffield Hallam University, researcher, writer and broadcaster on wildlife and environmental issues