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HomeNews UKWicken Fen nature reserve in bid to boost turtle doves

Wicken Fen nature reserve in bid to boost turtle doves

image source, David Tipling/

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Turtle pigeon numbers have been in sharp decline in the UK for decades

The National Trust says it wants to attract more than just the two turtle doves to the new land it has acquired at the nature reserve.

Seventy acres (28 hectares) of land adjacent to Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire will be used to attract rare species including birds.

The new land is part of a wider RSPB project called Operation Turtle Dove.

These birds were once regular visitors to the UK following their annual migration from mid-summer breeding grounds through Western Europe to their wintering grounds in West Africa.

But due to habitat loss, lack of food and unsustainable levels of hunting, they are now one of the fastest declining wild bird species in the UK.

image source, Gillian Day and NT Photos

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Turtle doves nest in bushes and high, wide fences

Some of the newly acquired landscape at the reserve, near the village of Reach, will be used to support pigeons and other birds on farmland, thanks to a £58,000 grant from the Foundation. Natural England’s species recovery programme and additional donations for hedge planting.

Alan Kell, rural manager at Wicken Fen, said: “Turtle pigeons feed mainly on arable and mixed agricultural land, where the food is mainly wildflower seeds and cultivated cereals found on ground.

“This species nests and roosts near feeding areas in thorny bushes, high and wide fences and dense forest edges.”

He added: “This acquisition and the support of [the recovery programme] will provide opportunities to restore scarce habitats such as lowland grasslands, hedgerows, crop edges and ponds.”

He said he would “expand Wicken Fen to provide a green corridor for the benefit of both nature – including many nationally threatened species such as pigeons – as well as for people, by providing additional rights access to green space”.

image source, Photo Mike Selby/NT

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The forest at this reserve is managed with the help of the local Reach community

Mike Shurmer, head of species at RSPB England, said: “The ambition of the communities we work with through the Turtle Dove Campaign to help save these iconic birds is nothing short of remarkable. surprising and if we continue with this momentum, it won’t be long before we can expect to see pigeon numbers start to increase across the UK.”


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