Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Turtle Doves at Martin Down NNR, - 22 May 2018

I haven't seen a Turtle Dove since Autumn 2016. That was a passage bird which stopped to refuel at Bridge Marsh in Seaton; a bird found by Tim Wright. It is well documented that numbers of this delightful summer visitor to the UK have crashed. I'm not aware of any breeding sites near Charmouth and once again this Spring, I failed to see a migrant bird hence the trip to Martin Down NNR, near Blandford Forum.

Although one of the largest areas of chalk grassland in the country, Martin Down represent a small remnant of the downland which once covered the geological Cretaceous Chalk.

Chalk Grassland unploughed for centuries ...

...support a huge variety of downland flowers.

This was my first visit to the site and the birding day list as well as the 2 (possibly 3) Turtle Doves included tens of Skylarks, Cuckoo (first of the year), Red Kite, Buzzard, RavenWhitethroat, Blackcap and Linnet. Sadly in the time we had available on the day, we didn't manage to find Corn Bunting or Grey Partridge, both of which had been reported this morning. The Turtle Doves were easy to locate with their iconic purring call carrying considerable distance. They were seen mainly perched conspicuously. They were seen to the take to the wing to give their display flight over their chosen territory.

Iconic Turtle Dove

Purring and displaying Turtle Doves

The weather was sunny and dry, temperature +20 degrees, with a thin high cloud and a light Northerly breeze.
Butterflies on the wing:
Gizzled and Dingy Skipper, Brimstone, Burnet Moth, Small Blue, either Chalkhill Blue or Small Heath.
Grizzled Skipper

Small Blue - they really are this tiny!!

Terrible photo of either a Small Heath