It is now less than 3 months until the start of Dove Step 2!
Firstly, our unofficial patron and constant inspiration Mr George Meegan made contact over Christmas to wish us well with our second Dove Step journey:
Well, hello guy, and the Turtle Dove does appear in the 12 days of Christmas! I am sitting in Palm Beach, when my friend looked me up online, something I do not bother [to do] much. You have kindly comments, thank you, and good luck with the doves, part of the magnificence of our planet. Keep safe on your adventures. George Meegan, December 2014
For those not familiar with the multi-world record holder and living legend that is Mr George Meegan, be sure to read the ‘Inspiration’ page from the first Dove Step journey.
We are busy preparing across all aspects of Dove Step 2; catching up with sponsors, spreading the Dove Step word and of course training.
Bridgedale Socks remain our headline sponsor and have once again kitted the team out wonderfully; we have WoolFusion Trekkers for winter walks, lightweight CoolFusion Speed Demons for cycling miles through France and CoolFusion TrailHeads for the warmer walking miles. We also have Duo Lite hats that we’ve been wearing under our helmets on winter training rides as well as Pulse beanies that are super cosy when kayaking. Thank you Bridgedale!
We have been busy cycling the country lanes of west Suffolk, as well as paddling the estuaries and coastline in the east. Nomad Sea Kayaking ensure we cannot go too wrong and are currently overseeing the preparations ahead of April; signing off our expedition with the coast guards, harbours and required authorities.
Of course the reason we are logging all the training is to ensure we are in as good a shape as possible come April, which in turn will hopefully see us successfully complete the 700 mile trek. As we go south, ‘our’ Turtle Doves will be heading north and we hope to see some en route.
Our Turtle Doves are currently residing in sub-saharen Africa where the situation is worrisome, as per the following extract from the current Nature’s Home (RSPB) magazine:
“Senegal, in West Africa, lies partly in the Sahel region – a band of relatively verdant land that crosses Africa, marking the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. You can imagine the relief that turtle doves and other migrating birds must feel, after their 3,000-mile journey through Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the fierce conditions of the Sahara, to finally reach food and water. A place they can safely spend the winter, and recoup their energies for making the return trip to our shores in spring to breed. But the journey has been getting harder and harder, as turtle doves struggle to find food – in both their UK summer grounds and Senegal winter grounds where they might arrive to find their foraging areas turned into farm crops – and all the way along their migration route too. It’s no wonder fewer and fewer of our migrant birds make it back every year to breed. Since 1995, the UK has lost 88% of its turtle doves.”
“In the 1960s, turtle doves were having four broods in a summer,’ says Simon Tonkin. ‘In the 1990s, they were having one or two broods. Today, turtle doves are lucky if they can raise a single brood.”
Nature’s Home Magazine, Spring 2015
However, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon!
Almost without fanfare the Landbird Action Plan was agreed by the The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) back on the 9th November, 2014.
As Martin Harper of the RSPB commented:
“For more than four decades, migratory water birds have been protected, showing that effective, international cooperation for the conservation of migratory birds is possible. I’m delighted the Action Plan for land birds has now been adopted and work that considers the conservation needs of the birds’ whole lifecycle, across an international flyway – from breeding grounds in the UK to wintering areas in West Africa – will be undertaken.”
“Birds such as the turtle dove, cuckoo, nightjar, vultures and many more will all benefit from these two positive and historic agreements. It’s a good day for conservation.”
As well as the adoption of the Landbird Action plan, which could provide much needed protection to migrating Turtle Doves, there is a further step change on the horizon; Malta are holding a referendum on Spring Hunting!
The vote will be made one week before we commence our Dove Step 2 journey on the 11th April. It would be a dream come true to start paddling knowing the Maltese people had voted ‘NO’ to stop Spring hunting. It would be one less barrier to an increase in the European Turtle Dove population. Here’s hoping!
Finally, and of note, at least one Turtle Dove has shunned the arduous return migration to Africa this year and is instead happily residing in Gunton, Suffolk! Mr Craig Shaw has kindly allowed me to share the following photo:
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!