Country & Coast: Exotic sightings spreading across region

Last year I asked for information on Yorkshire's ring-necked parakeets, a stunning tropical parrot that is rapidly spreading across the region. Since then the records have kept coming in and it is fair to say that these delightful birds are making quite an impact.

Andy Waple photographed them in his garden at Fulwood; Paul Ardron spotted them in the Sheffield Botanical Gardens and later heading into suburban gardens nearby, close to Hunter's Bar. My Hallam University colleague Geoff Cartwright saw "a parrot" on a TV aerial at Woodseats. We even had a woman telephone me on BBC Radio Sheffield because she thought a parrot had escaped near the old vicarage at Whiston in Rotherham. She was busy putting up "lost parrot" leaflets and posters.

I've since had other records of parakeets around Whiston. Further afield, I had sightings from readers as far away as Beverley, Bishopthorpe in York, Doncaster, Hull, Wakefield, Leeds, Nidderdale, Harrogate, and even Hartlepool.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The birds are clearly well-established and across a very wide area. They have been breeding for a number of years, in some cases back to the 1980s. My prediction is that they will now increase in flock sizes, perhaps with groups of 10-15 in the next year or so, but then up to 50 or more in the next five years.

Some of the London feeding flocks have 500 or more birds with roosts of up to 7,000 individuals.

So what do we think about it? Well most people so far seem excited and pleased to welcome this exotic addition to our avifauna. A few individuals have doubts and the harsh noise of a single bird (yes it does sound like a parrot!) magnified 500 or even 5,000 times may begin to grate.

Natural England, the Government's conservation agency, issued new guidance this autumn to make it easier for landowners to "control" parakeets if they are causing a nuisance.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We'll see, but in the meantime please keep the sightings coming in. In the Sheffield area there appear to be good numbers around Heeley and Meersbrook, across Millhouses, Norton and Woodseats, and then over

to the east in Beighton and across to Whiston.

Dr Ian D Rotherham directs the Geography, Tourism and Environment Research Unit at Sheffield Hallam University and can be contacted on [email protected] or via the Editor