The latest UK Wild Bird Indicators, published by Defra, the RSPB and the BTO, were released yesterday. The data covers farmland, woodland, wetland and sea birds, and worryingly shows turtle dove populations fell 21 percent between 2009 and 2010.
It's not a straightforward issue - as migratory birds, there may be multiple factors in the decline, such as illegal hunting in the Mediterranean and changes in land use in Africa. Those birds that do make it to the UK to breed must therefore be given the best possible chance of doing so successfully. Sufficient and appropriate food and nesting habitat is vital, and urgent work is underway to investigate the cause of turtle dove declines and create measures to help them. We're currently in the middle of a three year project working with farmers to test trial plots of seed rich plants and monitor nearby turtle dove populations. Hopefully by working together we can change the fortunes of this iconic bird before it's too late.
RSPB Conservation Director Martin Harper said: “If it wasn’t for these passionate custodians of our countryside, the situation would be a lot worse. But clearly more still needs to be done. We cannot stand by and allow the European Commission to undermine the Common Agricultural Policy’s support for environmental stewardship schemes, and we must be constantly striving to make those schemes as efficient and effective as possible.”
Read the full story, including details of the fates of other species on the Indicators, here
It's a long time since I did GCSE French! Thanks for the link to the page - there are a couple of other links below which might be helpful, including the RSPB's position on illegal spring shooting in France.
Hope they're useful!
A question about this. You refer to illegal hunting in the Mediterranean, which is certainly a problem. However I recently came across this table on the website of the LPO, who are the RSPB's Birdlife International partners in France.
It gives the dates for the start of the hunting season for various species, including the turtle dove (tourterelle des bois). Can you confirm this is right and if so, how can France be complying with the Birds Directive?