Video: Bob Hook, Forest of Marston Vale Volunteer

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, friends and private donors we have raised over £2500 and been able to fully fund our turtle dove feeding project! We can now provide a fantastic feeding and breeding habitat for these fantastic birds - which as you can see in the video above is already in use!

Why turtle doves?

The turtle dove is the UK's fastest declining bird species. In 1996 it was placed on the UK Conservation Red list, meaning they are of the highest conservation priority, with species on this list needing urgent action.

In fact their numbers have suffered a 94% decline since 1995, and there are now only a few thousand pairs left in the UK.

One of the reasons for this is thought to be lack of seed and grain as food during the summer breeding season. Turtle doves spend the winter in West Africa, so it is important that they have a reliable food source when they arrive in the country. Where there is not enough food availability they will not be able to have as many broods, impacting breeding outcomes for generations to come.

How the feeding areas will help

Turtle doves are mostly found in woodland edges, hedgerows and open land with scattered bushes - luckily that's a habitat we have a lot of at Millennium Country Park, but in order to create the best conditions for breeding it is vital that they have a reliable food source when they arrive in the country. If breeding conditions are good then breeding pairs can rear several broods of two chicks before they migrate back to Africa in late August/September for the winter.

Our new project focussed on providing a fantastic feeding and breeding habitat for turtle doves with the creation of two new turtle dove feeding plots.

With the funds raised from our urgent appeal, we were able to buy enough seed to provide a plentiful food source for breeding until the end of July, and also create a new ground feeding area and plant this up with a bespoke seed mix, ready for the future. This area will be allowed to grow, and the plants themselves will provide a perfect grazing patch full of seed for the turtle doves to feed off and create an ideal breeding and feeding habitat so that they can successfully raise more chicks and ensure a better future for this beautiful bird.

A huge thanks to all individual friends and supporters who donated, and to the Forest of Marston Vale Volunteers and the Barratt Developments PLC Charitable Foundation for their generous donations.

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