It’s Saint Stephen’s Day, the second day of Christmas, when an 18th century carol would send us two turtle doves.
We would love to welcome turtle doves to the reserve but they have become a rarity; their numbers have declined by a frightening 93% since the 1970s. We can only offer you wood pigeons and the ever-present collared doves.
In the UK, where turtle doves are the victim of half a century’s complex changes to climate and agriculture, they are classified as Red on the RSPB’s lists of Birds of Conservation Concern, and as a Priority Species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. In Europe, last year, the EU launched legal action against France and Spain, aimed to help protect the poor turtle dove from seasonal hunters, and globally, they are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The Wiltshire Ornithological Society says the nearest place to Trowbridge where turtle doves have been recently sighted, and may even be breeding, is Bromham. We have the woodland edges, hedgerows and open land that two turtle doves might be looking for if breeding were on their minds so let’s hope we can tempt them away from Bromham to our Nature Reserve.
Two turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur); collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto); woodpigeon( Columba palumbus)
Travelled miles this year looking for turtle doves in all the usual places to no avail — eventually found one sitting on a TV areal in the middle of a busy village — it called out to us as we were going past looking for a pub lunch!