In common with many other urban areas Eastleigh has seen a decline in it’s House Sparrow population in direct proportion to an increase in planning applications being granted for ‘back garden’ building with the result that the Sparrow has gone from being one of the countries most common birds to being ‘red listed’ by the RSPB as an endangered species.
In Eastleigh town centre, several acres of back gardens have recently disappeared along Twyford Road to be replaced by blocks of flats.
South Street allotments have also been replaced by blocks of flats – a fate shortly to befall the the Woodside road allotments as well.
In Fair Oak where hedge-rowed strawberry fields once stretched – housing estates now stand.
Research in 2005 by scientist Dr Kate Vincent at De Montfort University has shown that a decline in Sparrow numbers was directly attributable to a lack of insects for feeding. This in turn has been linked by conservationist Donald Lyven to habitat destruction in reckless urban over-development which is also blighting life for local residents.
Dr Vincent writes:
“House Sparrows have lived alongside man for thousands of years and can be seen as a barometer for the state of man’s environment, almost like a miner’s canary.
If House Sparrow numbers are declining what is going wrong with/in our environment?”
You can help monitor the extent of the problem by taking part in an online survey on the Hampshire County Council website and recording your sightings of Sparrows . Even if you DO NOT see any Sparrows this in itself would be useful information.
The survey will run until June 30th.
Dr Vincent seems to suggest that what is bad for House Sparrows might be bad for Humans. Do you agree?