I have just done an interview, presumably my last for the RSPB, for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on monk parakeets (here is the link - it starts at about 48mins and 50 seconds).

Small numbers of this pretty parrot have become established in southern England and Defra are aiming to get rid of them as they fear they may cause damage to crops, gardens, 'infrastructure' and maybe wildlife.

Infrastructure needs a bit of explanation - will a few small parrots bring down the country?  Probably not.  But monk parakeets are unusual amongst parrots in building huge communal nests out of sticks - who knows what they get up to in these blocks of flats?  And sometimes they build their nests on electricity lines causing power blackouts.  But it's as an agricultural pest that they might (but might not - it's in the nature of these things that there is doubt) cause most problems. 

Defra plan to catch up the relatively few monk parakeets who are out there now but will resort to lethal killing if non-lethal means don't work.

And very nice of the Today Programme to thank me for all the interviews I've done over the years for them - I lost count a long time ago but I'm guessing it's over 50.

And, Dear Reader, you can look forward to a veritable blogfest over the next few days as the Countdown continues.  I will cover farming, raptor persecution, my successor, how to stay in contact with me, the book of the blog (please buy now!) and a host of other subjects.


A love of the natural world demonstrates that a person is a cultured inhabitant of planet Earth.

  • A very sensible application of the precautionary principle. If it ever becomes necessary to eradicate Ring-necked Parakeets, I wonder what the cost would be.

  • Is there any reference data that details the specific damage that the Monk Parakeet is posing in Britain ?  Science has lots of evidence of damage caused by other alien species that don't seem to attaract the same attention from DEFRA so is this latest action based on evidence or just theory ?  As the Telegraph indicated over the weekend, Monk Parakeets are at home in a number of european and US locations but I'm not clear whether they pose the same threats globally ?

  • Nyati - more people would be against action, I guess, if that were the action at the top of the list.  But I know that many would agree with you.

    A love of the natural world demonstrates that a person is a cultured inhabitant of planet Earth.

  • Nice blog Mark and sure to cover lots of things in last few days.

    Pleased you are letting us know how to keep in touch and getting the book as birthday present as grown up children never know what to get so solved a problem just got to wait 3 months.

  • I guess DEFRA are doing the right thing. After the recent blog on introductions and the evidence world wide it is difficult to argue against their action. Let's hope though that non lethal means of capture wins the day. Of course in all these matters of problem introductions it is man that is to blame but it is the animals that pay for their mistakes.

    How will the Today programme be able to continue without you Mark? They are loosing one of their main stays. You must find a way of returning to the programme in another guise.

    I look forward to receiving The Book of the Blogs in a day or so which is ordered and in transit to me.