Trafalgar Square (10): The pigeons When I was a child, even a very big adult, the most amazing thing about Trafalgar Square was the number of pigeons. They were everywhere - flocking in the sky, swooping down over the fountains, nibbling seed on the pavement, perching amusingly on tourists' heads, etc etc. One of the reasons they were so prevalent was Bernie Rayner, the local pigeon-food seller, whose family had flogged birdseed to visitors for half a century. Venturing too close to Bernie's stall in the southeast corner of the square was like wading through a grey-white sea of feathers and guano while under heavy aerial attack.
And then the Mayor dug his claws in. He vowed to rid the square of these 'rats with wings' by banning the sale of birdseed and bringing in a hawk (at £105000 a year) to scare the little blighters away. What Ken hadn't counted on was a pressure group called the Pigeon Alliance who fought (successfully) to bring about this reduction in pigeon numbers more humanely. If you're ever out and about in the square at 7:30am, preferably with a camera, you might catch these devoted volunteers (legally) distributing ever-decreasing amounts of food in an attempt to wean the flying rats slowly elsewhere. It's working, with the pigeon population now down from a post-war peak of 35000 to just a few hundred. There's far less caked-in crap here now, and it's also much easier to hold a major event in the square without the participants being dive-bombed, but a lot of the local character (and characters) has vanished as a result. Shame. Although it's a little known fact that the anti-pigeon byelaws don't apply on the newly pedestrianised north terrace, so feel free to pop down and hurl breadcrumbs at the few remaining pigeons if you so wish. Save The Trafalgar Square Pigeons
What's on this weekend? Spring Into Summer Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 May
40 free guided London walks. Purley Festival Friday 29 - Sunday 5 June
Bunting week, below Croydon. E17 Art Trail Sat 30th May - Sun 14th June
250 arty Walthamstow things.