As with commonest green spaces in London, residents have long resisted the encroachment threat of developers. But on this case they’re losing, since a part of the land was sold to HS2 in 2021 and development has already begun.
The £42.5-billion railway project is ready to chop across 250 miles of British countryside and has been flagged by environmental campaigners for irreparably damaging, amongst other areas, five internationally protected wildlife sites, 693 local wildlife sites, 108 ancient woodlands and 33 legally protected sites of special scientific interest, in accordance with a survey by The Wildlife Trusts.
We will hear the drilling of HS2 diggers from the far end of the sphere. A few of the wildest parts of the Scrubs are being dug out to construct an access road. Local residents have formed Friends of the Scrubs with a view to protest, they usually have been fighting the onslaught with the assistance of London Wildlife Trust, Lindo and other public figures.
“It’s a sore subject,” admits Lindo. “I’m near this place. It’s a part of me. I’ve come here after break-ups. I got here here directly after my dad died. It’s uplifting because you’re feeling a part of something – you’re feeling that something is there that accepts you and loves you unconditionally.” Bird watching is clearly greater than a hobby for Lindo. It’s a strategy to protect the landscape he loves.
“I’ve spent 25 years studying this place and putting my findings on the map for public record. Other birders come here and don’t make their records public – after which developers will benefit from gaps in data. Prior to now there was none of this development and I’ve seen over 150 different bird species here.
In the summertime we could get flocks of as much as 250 goldfinches. Those sorts of biblical numbers have modified now. It’s very rare. You may physically see the changes. That’s partly right down to habitat loss, hunting along migratory routes, climate breakdown – all these issues bombarding at the identical time. I owe this place respect. I just need to attempt to speak about it as much as I can.”
We witness a gaggle of carrion crows mobbing a magpie over in the gap. We also occur to identify the rare sighting of a short-eared owl being attacked by crows in mid-flight. Lindo believes the nearby men’s prison was once feeding the crows, which contributed to the expansion of their population. “They’re just bullies,” he says of the fighting birds. “But all of the birds listed below are under threat on a regular basis,” he adds.
“Prior to now, there have been also less people here, less dogs, less people flying model aircrafts. A few of the wider threats birds face are from agricultural pesticides, modern buildings that don’t have nesting spaces, and the grubbing up of hedgerows.”
In keeping with the RSPB, within the last 50 years tree sparrows have declined by 95%, starlings by 71%, and song thrushes by 56%. To make matters worse, last 12 months 3.8 million birds died within the UK’s largest outbreak of bird flu. We hear a long-tailed tit calling, and the squawking of parakeets. We also spot a jackdaw flying in the identical group as a carrion crow. “They don’t normally hang around like that,” Lindo remarks.
“How strange that the jackdaw is an accepted member of the crow crew,” I say. Lindo isn’t surprised. “The thing about watching birds in urban areas is that for those who keep your heart and your mind open you possibly can see anything. You’ve got to maintain that freshness in your spirit about anything in life.”
We spot a blue tit hopping across the bare branches of a tree. A herring gull flies overhead. We will hear the high-pitched call of a long-tailed tit. But in fact, we catch only snippets of those birds’ lives. And whilst many birds don’t migrate in any respect, a few of them cross among the most uninhabitable landscapes over their lifetime.
Swallows, for instance, live a mean of 4 years, regardless that naturally they may live as much as 22 years in the event that they could survive all of the threats to their existence. And each 12 months they embark on a 200-mile-a-day trip, which starts from the fields of England and takes them through western France and Spain and into Morocco, before crossing the Sahara Desert and the Congo rainforest – and eventually arriving in South Africa and Namibia.
“I’ve been on various points of those birds’ migratory routes, whether it’s in Africa or Asia, and I can still find those birds,” Lindo tells me. “So when people say birds adapt to town, it’s a tough one to call because birds come from different places around the globe. It doesn’t matter where the bush is in the event that they can eat and nest.
“We don’t really know where these birds go, what they see. In some ways birds are adapting to town by creating smaller territories, or changing the pitch of their calls due to noise pollution – but climate breakdown is a harder thing to tackle, because evolution doesn’t move that quickly.” In understanding bird behaviours more deeply, I feel a twinge of sadness for the struggle they face day-after-day simply to survive.
“Every living thing has a story,” says Lindo. “But I actually have a difficulty with the way in which Nature is sold to us by the media. It’s considered only a type of entertainment, and there’s no connection in any respect. You’re stuff within the Serengeti, but you don’t relate to what’s happening down Dalston High Street or wherever you might be. Your little flowerpot in your windowsill is linked to the Congo, to the Amazon, to the Antarctic, to the Siberian Taiga.”
Lindo is currently within the means of organising The Urban Birder NDM Foundation (named in memory of his birdwatching friend Nigel David Mill), which has a charitable remit to attach inner-city children to Nature across the UK.
“This is just not about bussing kids out into the countryside, but about getting them to actively take part in the development of urban wildlife sanctuaries,” he says. He hopes the project will eventually expand globally.
My birdwatching time with Lindo draws to a detailed. We’ve got seen almost 30 different bird species on this short time, field data he adds to eBird.
Birding requires us to tune in, to be present and vigilant to our surroundings. And plenty of of those skills, Lindo says, he also applies to his on a regular basis life. “Loads of people in my world are unsure and scared and don’t need to do anything latest.
“But I’m very concerned about pushing boundaries and making a noise, and I’m not afraid to ask for what I would like. I didn’t know what course I used to be on, but I needed to walk this road, and I wouldn’t let anyone talk me out of it. And now I live a life about which, if I were to die tonight, I’d don’t have any regrets.”
Yasmin Dahnoun is assistant editor at The Ecologist. You will discover out more about David Lindo’s work and develop into a member of The Urban Bird World global community at www.theurbanbirderworld.com. This text first appeared within the latest issue of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine.