Friday, 11 June 2010

yes. Yes! YES!

Long-awaited: Turtle Dove at Greensted. Below: the sad sight of a roadkill Moorhen and its parentless chicks nearby.

Same leafy hedgerow on the Essex fringe of London. Same leafless tree. I had an uncanny sense of déjà vu as I scanned from a distance, hoping that a Turtle Dove might land in full view on a favoured snag. It didn't, of course, but I went through the motions anyway and walked once more along the edge of the field. As I neared the tree a Woodpigeon broke noisily from cover, again falsely raising my hopes. And then, as I went into the next field, an unmistakable purrrrrr emanated from somewhere in the canopy.

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked round. No sign. But then it appeared, gliding over my head in brief display mode and alighting in a larger tree on the other side of the path. YES! A beautiful, immaculate Turtle Dove, at last. I savoured this long-awaited view of my most-missed London bird this year, took a few shots, listened to it sing once more and left it in peace. In steep decline and much persecuted by hunters in southern Europe, Turtle Doves are fast becoming a rare sight in Britain; I had almost given up hope of one in London this year.

A few miles to the east, I worked an area of fields and paddocks hard, searching for Grey Partridge which had been reported here earlier in the week. No joy this time, with another dip notched up (hot on the heels of yesterday's no-show Hoopoe in Chertsey), but by the end of the morning two Red-legged Partridges in different areas, four singing male Yellowhammers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a calling Bullfinch (only my second this year) and several dapper Brown Hares were a reasonable haul. On the downside, I found an adult Moorhen dead in the road, just along from a small pond where its four chicks were waiting patiently for it to return - a sad ending perhaps for the whole family.

London year-list update:
183. Turtle Dove.

Many thanks to Ian Woodward and Barry Jones for their gen today. And no thanks to the Deli'More in Ongar for a dismal Latté (note to kitchen: don't use powdered drinks), or to The Bridge Deli in Abridge for a very poor attempt at a sandwich. I may have to start reviewing eateries for birders on this blog ...

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