Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The decline of the Turtle Dove

Once a relatively familiar migratory sight in the UK, the Turtle Dove is now in real danger of disappearing from our shores. A three-year project, led by the RSPB, is aiming to reverse a decline in the population of the farmland bird, which is now classified as the species deemed the most likely to be extinct in the UK by 2020. The reality is that the Turtle Dove population here fell by more than 90% between 1997 and 2010. The RSPB project will aim to restore to the countryside many of the plants the birds feed on. Their diet consists almost entirely of small seeds from wild plants, which grow among crops. Changes in farming practices in recent decades mean these wild flowers – including vetch, fumitory and clover – are now scarce. The BTO for one also points to widespread use of herbicides as a contributory factor. It says: "There is good evidence to support the hypothesis that the primary demographic driver of Turtle Dove declines is a shortened breeding period, which has reduced the number of nesting attempts. This is thought to be driven by reduced food availability due to increased herbicide use." This chap was photographed at the Pensthorpe reserve in North Norfolk.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM L lens, 1/80th sec, f/11, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM L lens, 1/80th sec, f/11, 400mm at ISO 400

3 comments:

  1. I imagine that some of the ones destined for our shores also get shot! It's a bird I'm not likely to see during the year unless I travel eastwards and it sounds like they're becoming increasingly scarce where you are! Shame!

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  2. As Jenny says, a lot of them get shot in southern Europe on the way here. I wish the slaughter would stop.

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  3. I get to see the odd pair around East Anglia Tim, normally only one sighting a year though.

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