A wild and windy wander in an out-of-the-way corner near the River Great Ouse this evening produced two brief, but never-the-less exciting glimpses of a turtle dove!
The four of us were chatting when a darkish bird, around the size of a collared dove, flew down the lane and into a willow tree. We crept along after it, but it must have slipped out from the other side of the tree.
Then, a few minutes later, my husband mentioned he’d seen a bird land in a grassy area just ahead. I lifted my binoculars, but before I could get them to my eyes, the dove-sized bird took off! This time, I was able to clearly see the tell-tale white edging to the tail!
Sadly, that was that for the time being. It was too windy to be able to hear the turrrr, turrrr purring song which has given the dove its name, even if it made it. Rain kept threatening and it was chilly as well.
Still, earlier on I’d thought our outing would be cancelled because of rain. It had started raining in the late morning and the wind had become quite strong. Just the sort of weather you expect in the summer!
There are some 2,000 pairs of turtle doves in this country at present. The birds are in a steep decline for reasons including hunting on their migration routes and loss of habitat both here and in their wintering grounds in Africa.
Collared doves are slightly bigger and also have a white tip to their tails, but are a much paler colour overall. Turtle doves are seldom seen in urban or suburban areas whereas collared doves are often closely associated with man.
This would appear to be a good area for wildlife and we heard other birds singing, including blackcap and song thrush. It was amusing to see several rabbits munching and running about on grassy areas as the evening drew on.
Walking through the waving long grass and coming nearer to the river, I got a sense of the power of the water and it was easy to visualise how readily it could flood over the banks.