In the second of his series of blogs celebrating the turtle dove, Jonny Rankin recounts an unforgettable discovery.
Just days after my first turtle dove of the year on the forest edge, I took the opportunity to walk around a nature reserve adjacent to a working quarry, looping around the northern edge of the reserve immediately next to the actual workings. As aggregate lorries rumbled past and the conveyor belt whirred away, the unmistakable silhouette of a turtle dove flew past, over my head and into the actual workings.
As I rounded the bend, I could hear the gentle purring and looking east into the sun, picked out the profile of a singing male – perched on a security light within the confines of the working quarry, right next to a busy entrance way and within earshot of machinery sorting aggregates! Just like my first sighting of the year on the forest edge – this too was edge habitat. The hinterland between quarry and former quarry now restored to nature reserve.
I walked the boundary between the nature reserve and entrance track to the quarry. As I listened and looked – the purring of the original male thickened, overlapped by a second bird. Two singing males!
I turned to look for the second bird and was greeted with four turtle doves giving chase – hopefully the males I had already heard along with two females. One of the males was distinctive owing to a few missing tail feathers. What an experience! I would be extremely surprised if I manage more than four turtle doves together this season – but I am willing to try!
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