As I write, it’s cold and dark and the rain is dripping down the window. The grey damp chill of a British winter is a far cry away from the heat of the savannah, which is where I imagine our Turtle doves are currently enjoying hours of hot sunshine every day. They are spending the winter in sub-Saharan Africa, but I’m looking forward to next May, when they’ll be returning here to breed.
Inspired by Operation Turtle Dove, I’ve started my own project to help these dramatically declining birds.
So, I’m growing some weeds. The Turtle dove’s diet is made up predominantly of the small seeds of weeds, and in our intensively managed agricultural land, they are struggling to find enough quality food to eat. What is a weed anyway? A plant in the wrong place? A pest? A wild flower? For a Turtle Dove, and a host of other animals, it’s a food source. Which is why, with the same tenderness that I’ll be sowing my tomato plant seeds with in the spring, I’ve carefully planted several seed trays with a Turtle dove’s favourite food.
Fumitory, a Turtle dove staple. (Have you ever tried to photograph your own hand? – It’s really difficult!) I’ve also sown Red and White Clover, Black Medic, and Common Vetch.
My Mum has very kindly donated a sunny corner of her garden for Project Turtle Dove to take place. Right now, it’s just a bare patch of soil, but in the spring I’ll plant out the weed seedlings and hopefully lend a helping hand to the local Turtle doves.
Watch this space for updates!
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