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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE numbers holding up in the Home Counties despite the continued carnage in Malta - just when is this country going to be outlawed

It is very heartening to see these very same EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVES return to their breeding grounds year after year, even if the total population in the county numbers just above 10 pairs. They have been at this very low ebb now for at least ten years but are still remaining stable with little or no drop-off (bar the Totternhoe pair that have now gone). The same has gone for our tenuous population in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire and it gives me some encouragement that we could reverse the fortunes of this beautiful bird if we could stop the continual carnage of this species in Malta, Kuwait and parts of southern Spain and France. I am appalled that even in 2010, up to 2,500 Maltese hunters are still targeting this species and going all out to shoot every one that accidentally strays into their sights - why does the EU not just kick them out for blatantly flouting laws regarding the International protection of birds.

On a recent tour of southern Morocco, I made it clear to local residents how lucky and important it was that one particular area was attractive to large numbers of this summer migrant and was very pleased that the ecologists and conservationists there realised their plight. This one particular area is winter home to at least 400 Turtle Doves and they thrive on the uncultivated farmland there. I pray that it continues to do so, as the Turtle Dove is undoubtedly one of the most bird species to be cherished and needs all of the help it can get.