Hi, I'm Niki, a UK fine art photographer specialising in black & white images of London. I always aim to capture the true character of the city, from its famous landmarks to its vibrant street-life.

Pigeons galore – not any more

March 17th, 2015

Remember when Trafalgar Square was one big pigeon park?  Often it was so crowded with birds that it was hard to find a way through them all  –  as this gentleman with the stick was finding:

‘Pigeon walker, Trafalgar Square’ 2001.   http://www.nikigorick.com/photo.php?photoId=320

Back then, going to Trafalgar Square meant buying a cup of birdseed from the man in the little hut and then doing your bit for feeding London’s huge pigeon population (whilst dodging their airborne excrement):

‘Brooding lion, Trafalgar Square’ 2002. http://www.nikigorick.com/photo.php?photoId=318

The immediate winged bombardment could be alarming:

‘Pigeon feeder, Trafalgar Square’ 2001. http://www.nikigorick.com/photo.php?photoId=391

But now, all is calm and pristine clean.  Not a pigeon to be seen – only the occasional brave duck:

‘Spring morning, Trafalgar Square’ 2015.  http://www.nikigorick.com/photo.php?photoId=506

And all because very early in the morning the ‘birdman’ cometh:

‘Hawk arrival, Trafalgar Square’ 2015.  http://www.nikigorick.com/photo.php?photoId=508

Since 2003, Harris Hawks have been let loose to cleanse the ancient square of its famous winged inhabitants, frightening them all off to feed elsewhere.  There’s no more man in the hut with the birdseed and woe betide you if you disobey the no-feeding signs  —  the hawks are waiting:

Hawks waiting, Trafalgar Square’ 2015.  http://www.nikigorick.com/photo.php?photoId=507

Over a decade of hawk flying has succeeded in transforming this central landmark space into a no-fly zone for other winged beasts but you can’t help feeling a little sorry for these hungry predators.  Once they were guaranteed a snack of stray pigeon but now it’s meagre pickings – and with Hans Haacke’s ‘Gift Horse’ on the Fourth Plinth to rub it in:

Just occasionally there’s a hint of how it once was:  I spotted this solitary pigeon surveying the scene from the National Gallery with the tourists – very sensibly, he moved on quickly.

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