A few days ago Operation Turtle Dove was launched by Conservation Grade, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, Natural England and the RSPB aimed at halting the decline of the Turtle Dove in England.
Such has been this decline ( 91% since the 1970's ) that I sometimes wonder whether I will see the species again in the UK given my base up here in Western Scotland and infrequent visits to Southern England!
It seems likely that the crash is linked to it changing its foraging habits and research is now testing various seed food mixtures which can be presented as options within the agri-environmental options within forthcoming schemes. However, such is the parlous state of the English population at the moment that it has been considered necessary to carry out research and provide advice hand in hand in order to try and reverse this desperate situation.
The Turtle Dove is a summer migrant, of course, spending most of "its year" in West Africa, migrating to and from Northern Europe via the Mediterranean Basin. Sadly, agricultural production in West Africa has fluctuated, which has put further pressure on the species and lowered its survival rate. And then there's the thorny problem of the species being a "traditional target" for the hunters around the Mediterranean, a negative input into this complex picture which is hardly a help overall.
A petition is now being raised by Avaaz aimed at halting the annual slaughter of birds in Malta, which can be reached via this link
Stop Spring Hunting in Malta.
It's imperative this is stopped. The problem has been going on for years, with Malta's administration paying scant heed to calls for constraint. Now is the opportunity to make an impact.
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