I MISS him with his friendly ways, took him for granted in bygone days,

Listened to his cheerful chirping, feeding young on fence posts perching,

Watched him checking out the leaves, heard him nesting in the eaves,

Home was London streets both broad and narrow, scrounging titbits dropped from market barrow,

At one time he was always there, now sadly he is so very rare,

His absence fills my heart with sorrow so where did you go quaint cockney sparrow?

Nature Notes: Parakeets bent on world domination

I wrote that verse some years ago when the house sparrow population was probably at its lowest ebb. But now there are signs of a comeback, albeit very slow. House sparrows (male pictured) nest in colonies and if a colony becomes too small it may cease to be viable. However, I know of at least four thriving colonies which seem to be increasing. One theory concerning their rapid decline points to traffic fumes killing the insects on which the birds feed. But I think lack of nesting sites in roof spaces that have been sealed for insulation purposes combined with grubbing out of privet hedges lining front gardens are the main causes of their unfortunate decline.

Nature Notes: Bramble blossom bumble bees and butterflies

The colonies I know of still use roof spaces and the houses retain their privet hedges so this must be a factor in their favour. Thirty years ago I loved to watch house sparrows feeding young in my garden, but not any more.