TURTLE DOVES - When we first bought Crow Wood 12 years ago I would hear and see Turtle Doves every summer. Sadly, they have become increasingly harder to find and are now getting to be rare birds - last year I saw just one. They are such a favourite bird that I have wondered for some time how the habitat within Old Park Wood could be improved for them and have had my eye on an area beside the entrance track that looked very suitable. Its basically bramble scrub but it has dead oaks on its edge that the doves use and an orchard nearby. A visit from the RSPB's Turtle Dove Adviser in August confirmed that it might become a really good patch if we cleared and re-seeded it, and although just outside her core area around Marden, she could help with providing the right seed mix and advice. 

       So, today the tractor was in, flailing its way through the site and clearing all the willow and bramble growth. Even if the Turtle Doves do not use it, the scrub will grow back very quickly and the habitat will restore itself......areas of scrub are very precious in our over-managed landscape. There is still a lot of bramble around the edges for reptiles and invertebrates to use. In the meantime I need to get the seed in the ground and think about how to provide water for the birds to use over the summer months. Its all very exciting.....

                                          The whole of this area at the south gate was a land-fill site 
                                          until the 1990's and it remains marginal land but a good scrubby area

The orchard attracts good numbers of winter thrushes and as I watched the tractor working Fieldfares and Redwings were flying overhead, chuckling and whistling. The Redwings have found  the holly trees in Crow Wood already and are making short work of the berries. Its a bit of a race every Christmas to get some sprigs home before the birds strip them all....and this year the race has started early.


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