Monday, 19 February 2018

Only One Turtle Dove ...

OK, the title doesn't quite work, it should be 'Two Turtle Doves' along with the 'Partridge in a Pear Tree'. But hey, Turtle Doves are like the proverbial hen's teeth in Lancashire nowadays, despite having bred there in the not too distant past.  The photos were taken at 5:10pm in the gloom near Knott End-on-Sea, so the colours are a bit variable from one shot to another.

Apparently there was a 77% decline in UK Turtle Doves from 1970 to 1998 and the reasons are not entirely clear.  Suggestions range from migrating birds being shot in the Mediterranean, climatic change causing drought in their wintering grounds in Africa and the changes in agricultural practices which have affected many farmland birds. So they certainly were a lot more common than they are now.

Unfortunately however, there are some doubts about this bird's authenticity in being truly wild.  It's a bit too early for them to have returned from Africa, and they haven't been seen in Lancashire for many years, with most observations being in south-east England.  So some people think that this is an escapee from a collection somewhere.

But I've have just been told about a Turtle Dove currently overwintering in Sweden where it is probably much colder than here, and this bird is not at all tame so who knows?  As I've never seen one before, this is a lifer for me and will stay so until someone disproves its origin.

Whilst waiting for the Turtle Dove to reappear, I took a few other shots including sneaking up behind a hedge to see a very close Pink-footed Goose, a Little Egret feeding on the salt marsh and a Barn Owl caught red-faced on a kill.

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