Saturday, 19 May 2012
The RSPB / Birdlife have been instrumental in the Wild Birds Directive, habitats directive, the creation of agri-environment schemes with Turtle Dove and other bird friendly measures etc. The list is fairly endless......and its been a battle! The RSPB have been working on farmland birds since at least the 80s! I have been creating Turtle Dove friendly habitat since 2004! 50,000+ ha of land into some form of management for wild birds as a direct result of RSPB advice and support in the East alone. As for farmland reserves this wouldn't work on its own - the only way is to get farmers adopting measures at an appropriate scale. It can be done. 70% of the UK is farmed so it is of pivotal importance to much of our wildlife and we need most of those farmers doing something at the right scale and in the right places.
Hunting is very much an issue, but the issues are multivariate and also remember “our” Turtle Doves are not passing through Cyprus or Malta but France, Spain and Morocco (as far as we know!).
The problem associated with the 91% decline since 1970 in the UK seems to be clearly linked to a collapse in breeding productivity.
In the 60s they were having up to four broods and from the 90s one, maybe two broods this coincided with a switch in food from more natural food sources of arable plant seeds to cereals and other grains like rape seed. This has indicated a great reduction in the ‘natural’ seed sources these birds would normally utilise and these would be available throughout the summer period as opposed to one very small window of opportunity. It is also likely that the birds face increasing pressures on their wintering grounds to land use change and agricultural intensification. Intensive grazing and irrigation could be reducing resources for the species on their wintering grounds further compounding the problem. We need to quantify the scale and impact of legal and illegal hunting, both in Europe and elsewhere, and provide information that will inform a review and update of the European Commission Management Plan for European Turtle Dove. OTD will carry out this work by establishing collaborations with partners across the flyway, representing a unique and truly coordinated approach to address Turtle Dove conservation. I guess we can sit here and blame somebody else or look at the evidence and do something about it. I'm off to do something about it...
Almost forgot. Phil Jones took this great pic the other day...