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At one end of my regular walk along the embankment of the Ely River where it flows in to Cardiff Bay, near the entrance to Penarth Marina, is a huge stand of what I presume is a type of pampas grass. I always look at it, partly because it reminds me of my New Zealand home (where we would call this by the Maori name Toetoe) and partly because it is often covered in House sparrows.

181208 marina sparrows (1)

The birds seem to adore this grass. The sturdy stems provide convenient perches on which to sit and cheep their continuous sparrow conversations, and they pluck away at the fluffy plumes, presumably extracting edible seeds to munch on. And, when threatened by the local ginger-and-white cat, which is frequently to be seen staring hungrily in their direction, the sparrows can easily flit into the dense vegetation of the grass clump to escape the cat’s clutches.