You read that correctly – a 96% decline in breeding Turtle Dove from 1970 – 2012.
I read ‘The State of UK’s Birds’ (SUKB) reports upon publication each year. This years has been well received and covered by the mainstream media, indeed it was embedded throughout my Twitter feed at breakfast this morning. You can read a summary of the reports findings and even download the pdf for yourself over on the RSPB website.
This years report is even more topical than usual, it directly links to the Dove Step Campaign and our insistence to at least try to make a difference to ‘our’ Turtle Doves. This year SUKB’s focuses on the migratory birds that spend part of their annual cycle in the UK, whether breeding, wintering or passing through on migration.
This of course includes Turtle Dove and given the dramatic decline they feature heavily:
Hunting and trapping has been reported as impacting migratory birds on passage and on the non-breeding grounds during both spring and autumn migrations. Losses can be enormous. For example, 2–4 million turtle doves are shot across a number of southern European countries each year. SUKB’s 2014, pg. 25
For another long-distance migrant, the turtle dove, pairs breeding in the late 1990s may have only raised around half the number of clutches and young per season compared to the 1960s. This decline in productivity is sufficient to account for the decline in abundance. Recent research has also revealed that around 96% of the UK’s turtle doves are carrying parasites which can cause the disease trichomonosis. This disease caused mortality in a number
of adults and nestlings during the 2012 breeding season. It is possible that changes in feeding ecology, resulting from changing farmland management, may have resulted in higher densities of birds feeding around limited artificial resources, increasing the potential for disease transmission. SUKB’s 2014, pg. 26
96% is the very much the number for Turtle Dove – with the ‘96% of the UK’s turtle doves are carrying parasites which can cause the disease trichomonosis’ matching the long term decline figure.
The SUKB’s publication is a timely reminder for the Dove Step team, a good impetus to dedicate to our winter training schedule and remain totally dedicated to supporting Operation Turtle Dove.
Roll on April ’15 and Dove Step 2!
You can re-live Dove Step 1 here; http://dovestep.wordpress.com
Be sure to check out Operation Turtle Dove here; http://operationturtledove.org
Buy your Dove Step beer here; http://blackbar.co.uk
Check out Dove Step sponsor Bridgedale Socks here; http://www.bridgedale.com
Check out Dove Step sponsor Wild Frontier Ecology here; http://www.wildfrontier-ecology.co.uk
Check out Dove Step partner Nomad Sea kayaking here; http://www.nomadseakayaking.co.uk
… and of course please keep checking back here for updates!