RSPB hope East Anglian turtle doves will reveal migration secrets in bid to protect the species

One of the six turtle doves which are being tracked by the RSPB. Picture: RSPB.

One of the six turtle doves which are being tracked by the RSPB. Picture: RSPB. - Credit: Archant

Six turtle doves from the region are being satellite tracked from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds in West Africa, to help scientists understand why their numbers are rapidly declining.

The number of turtle doves has declined by 93pc since 1994, according to a recent UK breeding bird survey.

Last year the RSPB tagged a dove called Titan and were able to find out his migration route from the Suffolk coast to Africa which provided valuable data in the conservation fight to help save the species from extinction in this country.

The RSPB, in partnership with Operation Turtle Dove (OTD), are hoping the six new doves - which were tagged this summer in Feltwell, near Brandon, and Essex - can build on the legacy of Titan.

John Mallord, of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, said: 'The purring of a turtle dove used to be the sound of summer but sadly due to a huge decline in numbers is now rare or non-existent.


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'We have discovered a lot from Titan, including his exact migration route, important stopover sites and multiple wintering locations, and even how these vary between years in response to environmental conditions. He is also the first turtle dove in the world to be tracked over two consecutive years, giving us a unique opportunity to compare and contrast his behaviour over two successive migratory cycles.'

It is hoped the new data will continue to provide crucial information about what turtle doves need and the threats they might face whilst on migration as well as on their breeding grounds here in the UK.

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Mr Mallord added: 'It's really exciting to have been able to tag more birds so that we can learn more about the routes they take to and from Africa. Once we have a clear picture of the areas they overwinter, and the threats they may face, we can support local conservation groups in promoting the sustainable use of the forests, feeding grounds and watering holes the birds rely on.'

As the sbirds prepare to leave the UK for their wintering ground in Africa, RSPB Centre for Conservation Science are inviting the public to follow their journey through a newly launched website.

People will be able to see images of the birds, track their 5,600km migration route live and discover their stopover points along the way.

For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/turtledovetracking

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