Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Ashill, Norfolk

Traditionally, the area I visited today just outside the village of Ashill has been used by Turtle Doves for as long as I have walked the area.  This morning was therefore aimed at finding this beautiful little migratory Dove species.
The day dawned dry and bright and indeed the whole day was dry, warm, and sunny.  The wind dropped significantly from yesterdays strong to a moderate west south westerly.  The lighter wind would be helpful when listening for the beautiful song of a Turtle Dove.

2 Turtle Dove (pair)
1 Lesser Whitethroat
Willow Warbler

Reaching the area which has held Turtle Doves in previous years, I decided to stop and just listen.  I could hear singing Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Collared Doves, and Wood Pigeons, then within this mix of songs I just picked up a soft "turr turr" of a singing male Turtle Dove, my first of the year.
I checked other nearby suitable habitat where I heard the distinctive song of a single Lesser Whitethroat.
Walking back to where I heard song, I soon saw 2 small birds break cover of woodland and fly low and fast into tall, overgrown hedgerows, a pair of Turtle Doves, wonderful.
Turtle Dove at Ashill 10/05/15 (One of a pair seen)
I walked to where the Turtle Doves alighted into the hedge and soon located the pair, albeit rather distantly.  Song resumed and both birds often flew close together around the locality.
The song of the Turtle Dove is for me one of the most eagerly awaitied for songs, it is soft and soothing, and epitomizes an English summers day.
It is also very pleasing to have this small and delicate little Dove on the patch as its numbers have been in serious decline.

The Turtle Dove is the only migratory Dove/Pigeon species in Europe, and it is during it passage that it comes under severe pressure from those who shoot birds, especially hunters in Spain, Morrocco, and of course, Malta.  It is so great to know that these Turtle Doves have reached us to breed in relative safety, however, I am always tinged with sadness as who knows if our beautiful doves can safely fly through the gauntlett of guns on their southbound passage in late summer. 

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