Give a home for turtle doves this Christmas

Our ‘two turtle doves’ of Christmas may well be sunning themselves in sub Saharan Africa right now, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving them a thought and thinking about what you might be able to do over the next coming months that will provide them with a welcome return in spring.

Turtle dove Streptopelia turtur, pair perched on agricultural machinery, Essex, England, June_photo credit: Andy Hay CFE
Turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur). Photo credit: Andy Hay/RSPB Images

Operation Turtle Dove (OTD) and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) have joined forces to provide guidance on how you can create or manage habitat for turtle doves on your farm and the whole farms benefits that this can provide not just for turtle doves but for other farm wildlife and resource protection.

CFE is supported by a partnership of many organisations including some which may surprise you for not always seeing eye-to-eye (CFE partners include AHDB, AIC, AICC, CAAV, CLA, DEFRA, EA, GWCT, LEAF, NE, NFU, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and Water UK). The partnership represents how all these organisations recognise the importance of the farmed environment, ensuring that it delivers for both people and wildlife. The partnership supports farmers to create habitat voluntarily, providing training and management guidance as well as promoting industry good practice and demonstrating how farmers have achieved profitable farming alongside environmental benefits.

In these uncertain times when you may be coming out of stewardship agreements and unsure as to whether to enter into a new one, or even if you are simply in between agreements, establishing or maintaining voluntary measures can deliver resource protection and wildlife benefits as well as provide you with the flexibility you feel you need whilst important decisions are made for the future of your farm.

NE TD training day apr 2016 S Elmham Hall photo Niki Williamson (2) CFE
Turtle dove habitat training day in Suffolk. Photo credit: N Williamson/OTD

CFE voluntary measures can be implemented as part of your Greening requirements; in particular OTD, RSPB and CFE would encourage farmers to take up the fallow option as part of Ecological Focus Area requirements as these areas provide the greatest potential for wildlife and environmental enhancement. Not only can these areas contribute to your Greening requirements, but you could also use them to gain ‘Fair to Nature’ accreditation for your products – just like the RSPB have done with some of the produce from Hope Farm, all RSPB bird food and the Hope Farm rapeseed oil which are now ‘Fair to Nature’ accredited.

Download a copy of the CFE/OTD ‘Farm management to benefit turtle doves guide’ here.

Turtle doves face many threats across their flyway, but we know that a crucial factor in bolstering numbers is making sure that adult turtle doves are fit and healthy enough to have a number of nesting attempts during their time in the UK, and in particular this means they need plenty of food to return home to and the work for that starts soon…

So, as you prepare for the seasonal festivities and perhaps during that funny time between Christmas and New Year when the left over’s have been exhausted and you’re left with reruns on the telly you might want to stretch the grey matter muscles into thinking ‘what next?’ for your farm next year. What a great ambition to put on the new year’s resolutions list: ‘save a species’!

Festive OTD logo CFE