Turtle Doves

Hope for Surrey’s Turtle Doves

The Turtle Dove is sadly on the verge of local extinction within Surrey, with only a small number of records each year. This reflects that it is one of the UK’s fastest-declining wild bird species. As a long distance migrant, conservation efforts for Turtle Dove must span across countries and continents.  This year, the species has been thrown a “lifeline” by the European Commission, who have recommended that no Turtle Dove will be hunted in south-west Europe in 2023 for the third year running.

Whilst most of the population decline since the 1970s is primarily due to changes to farming practices, the situation is made worse by unsustainable hunting in south–west Europe.

There are now just 2,100 breeding territories remaining in the UK according to a 2021 study, and the species is monitored by the UK Rare Breeding Bird Panel (https://rbbp.org.uk/).  More hope is also coming from UK efforts, where the RSPB and partners are working with farmers and landowners in southern parts of England through ‘Operation Turtle Dove,’ which aims to reverse the fortunes of this beloved summer visitor.

In Surrey, we ask all bird watchers to report their sightings of this rare Surrey breeder to the club, and to be mindful of reporting the news more widely.  We also encourage all those working with landowners and farmers in Surrey to restore and create thick thorny scrub and hedgerows, areas of wildflowers and weed seeds and to create new wet areas. All of which will help Turtle Dove and other species with similar habitat requirements. Surrey Bird Club wants to see our farmland habitats flourishing with farmland birds and other wildlife for current and future generations to enjoy.

To find out more about Operation Turtle Dove go to https://operationturtledove.org/



04 April 2023