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Turtle Dove numbers on the increase on a Kent estate thanks to excellent biodiversity work

Afbeelding: Turtle Doves crop

Turtle Doves are Europe’s only long distanced migratory dove, spending a third of the year on their breeding grounds in Europe, and the winter on their non-breeding grounds in sub-Saharan West Africa. 

However, Turtle Doves are an endangered species and numbers have declined by 93% since the 1970’s. Research shows that the main factor for this is a reduction in nesting attempts during their breeding season. This has been linked to a decline of fitness which is a result of loss of suitable habitat and availability of their natural food sources. 

Individuals across the game industry play a key part in conservation programmes, including initiatives to support the establishment of feeding and breeding habitats for Turtle Doves.

One fantastic example of this is on Godmersham Park Shoot…

Godmersham Park Shoot, a Marsdens game feed customer based in Kent, has been working hard over recent years to create a sustainable habitat for Turtle Doves on the estate. Conservation plans have included careful management of suitable nesting habitat as well as chalk grassland to maximise the amount of natural food in the form of grass seeds for the birds. Alongside this carefully maintained environment Marsdens developed a supplementary feeding programme, to bring the birds into prime breeding condition. The estate team also created new ponds to ensure they had access to water close to suitable breeding areas.

The estate has previously been home to Turtle Doves present, but only in small numbers. As a result of this careful conservation activity they have been pleased to see increases of breeding pairs and successfully fledged young birds.

The estate has a fantastic strategy and strive to maximise biodiversity. The targeted management for Turtle Doves also benefits many other species; careful management of the chalk grassland has enhanced habitat for small mammals, which has in turn resulted in an increase in the number of breeding barn owls and kestrels.

Godmersham have been a customer of Marsden’s for many years, feeding their pheasants Marsden’s from day old, as well as using Marsden’s supplementary feed mix for farmland.

“The game Industry plays a key role in the conservation of our natural environment” Jamie Horner, Marsden’s Account Manager Comments. “So it’s fantastic to see another great example of this from one of our customers who have worked tirelessly for many years to provide a suitable habitat for not just the Turtle Doves but many of the UK’s endangered species.”