22 May 2015

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove is now becoming an extremely endangered species. When I was living in Suffolk as a kid they were fairly common and training to ring at Wicken Fen meant I got to ring a few! They stopped breeding in Cheshire probably around 2003-04 with the last birds being at Rixton Clay Pits.
Since then there have been very few birds that have stayed long enough to catch up with. The three that have have all been in the same paddock at Leasowe lighthouse!

Al Conlin co-found one on Friday 15th may and as  'd already planned to leave work early to go and check on breeding Swallows at a local farm I took a slight detour to the Wirral!

Its amazing how small these doves are and why the Maltese would want to slaughter them every spring in their thousands is beyond me! There's more meat on a butchers pencil. The photo below shows the Turtle Dove next to a Wood Pigeon to give an indication of scale.

The dove showed well but was always distant with the best views being  from the path to the kissing gate although this was obstructed by trees.

Finishing up at the farm around 6 pm there were plenty of Swallows flying into the out buildings but no active nests yet. Arriving home I'd just got out the Landrover with the camera over my shoulder when I heard the local hirundines alarm calling. That usually means a raptor and sure enough I looked up in just in time to see a Hobby powering over the house!


Luckily the Turtle Dove hung around until Saturday and I went for a second look with Groucho before heading across to Hilbre as the tide ebbed.

There were fantastic numbers of waders with at least 2,500 Dunlin and a few summer plumaged Sanderling among them. Star find was this Curlew Sandpiper that I just managed to photograph in flight as an errant dog caused the whole flock to fly off.

We also counted at least 23 Little Terns fishing in the gutter before they headed altogether across the island and away towards the breeding colony at Gronant.

There were very few migrant passerines around with only a female Wheatear provided any photographic interest.

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