Villagers go extra mile for turtle doves

Conservationists buy plot of land to save the rare birds. 

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A pair of turtle doves on the plot of land in Staple © Andrew Edington

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Several RSPB members living in Staple, Kent, pooled their money and donations from friends to buy the feeding ground of migratory turtle doves when it came up for sale in summer 2016.

The two couples, Ann and David Tingey, and Bridget and David Burridge, have been managing the plot of land as a nature reserve, which is the summer home to a flock of eight turtle doves.

With help from the RSPB and fellow villagers, they have added a pond, a hedge and birdwatching hide.

“Digging the pond has paid dividends not only for the turtle doves,” say the Tingeys, “it has also supplied water for many other visitors like grey partridge, yellow wagtail, hobby and many, many linnets to name but a few.”

Young wildlife photographer, Andrew Edginton, aged 14, is a resident of Staple and winner of RSPB’s WildArt 2016 competition.

As one of the local supporters of the project, he has been photographing the turtle doves from the hide. 

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A turtle dove foraging © Andrew Edginton

“I love nature and art, so it’s amazing to have such rare and beautiful birds right on my doorstep,” says Edginton. “I feel so privileged but I wish more young people had a chance to see them or to even hear the purring of the doves.”

Turtle doves are one of the UK’s most threatened bird species, with a UK population decline of 93 per cent since 1995, and are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

“The actions of our RSPB members have shown that with a little passion and commitment, anyone can help the wildlife on their doorstep,” says Nicole Khan, the RSPB’s turtle dove conservation advisor, “even an incredibly threatened species.” 

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Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine