The Story of the Cockney Sparrow
Once upon a time the House Sparrow was so common in London that it was chosen for the logo of our Society, as the most typical London bird that everyone would be familiar with. Then suddenly, a few year ago, it seemed to have gone from most of London's streets and gardens.
In fact recent House Sparrow surveys and research in London carried out by LNHS, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and the RSPB have provided up-to-date distribution data and shown that there are patches where they still seem to be doing well, but distribution is fragmented, and in much of central London they have virtually gone. In 1925, 2,600 were counted in Kensington Gardens; in 2001 just 8*.
This story illustrates the importance of keeping species records - otherwise significant changes in abundance or distribution patterns would be missed - and it shows that common species need to be recorded as much as rare ones. Keeping species records is one of the fundamental principles of ecology and conservation. Without data on how a species is doing and where it is distributed, we cannot plan how to conserve it.
During its long history members of the Society have recorded the effect upon our region's wildlife of the the huge urban expansion of London, which initially led to habitat loss and severe air pollution. From the 1950s onwards clean air legislation brought respite from pollution, but London's wildlife faced new challenges, especially in the periphery of our area, from the intensification of agriculture, and the introduction of toxic pesticides.
We now see new changes in the diversity and distribution of wild species at the same time as a changing climate. But are all these changes in wild populations really caused by climate change? There can be many reasons why a species expands its range, or increases or declines in numbers. Answering questions like this is one reason why the on-going collection of species records is more important than ever.
In recent decades the Society published a number of distribution atlases, partly based on records compiled by members. These were major publications that give us important baseline data against which to monitor future changes in species distribution.
LNHS Recording Area MapsEach map will open in a new browser window; to return to this page, close the window. All maps are printable.
- A map of the LNHS recording area can be viewed or downloaded here.
- A map showing the Vice-counties covered by the LNHS area can be viewed or downloaded here.
- A map showing the main towns in the LNHS area can be viewed or downloaded here.