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Having spent the breeding season on Walcheren in the Netherlands, European Turtle Dove Jos has crossed Belgium and France, and is now taking a pit stop just south of Valladolid, Spain. This region's Turtle Dove hunting season ended yesterday, on the 20th September 2020.

His nail-biting journey will lead him south, across the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara, to the Sahel belt of Africa (map from English Turtle Dove 'Titan'). Jos will face obstacles such as hunting season, poor weather, habitat loss in rest areas, and sheer exhaustion.


Jos is the first Turtle Dove in the Netherlands to be equipped with a satellite transmitter, allowing us to follow his progress on this incredible journey. It will give us insight into his migration route, and where and when he stops for breaks, ultimately supporting us as we strive to protect his species.


Join us! Follow Jos’ journey on: https://portal.zomertortels.nl/publicmap

This research is in partnership with BirdLife Netherlands and SOVON, with financial support from BirdLife International, BirdLife Netherlands and Het Zeeuwse Landschap.

For more information about our research, visit www.zomertortels.nl.

Although some European Turtle Doves have already left their breeding grounds, the rest are still fattening themselves up for their long journey to Africa. This fattening-up period is essential if they hope to survive their migration, and harvested grain and seed fields are some of the best places they forage.


Here in the Netherlands, Jos and Bram are still looking for food. We followed Bram's GPS tag to a field where poppyseed was grown this year. While we didn't spot Bram, there were 5 other Turtle Doves foraging here - not something you see every day. What's more, these doves were a mix young and adult birds.


What makes this field so attractive? After harvesting the poppies, the stubble has been left. This means that any seed that escaped harvest is simply lying on the ground and available to the birds. For Turtle Doves, who are exclusively seed eaters, this is a fantastic source of energy. Bram has visited this field for several hours, every day since mid-August. Poppyseed must be particularly tasty: Henk, one of our doves in 2019, also spent a great deal of time on the only poppyseed field available in the area!




After recording some suspicious behaviour from Bram's GPS-tracker, we have found him sitting on a second nest!

This nest is much less accessible than his first, making it difficult to photograph and check how far along the nest is. So far, we have confirmed at least 1 chick, that's approximately 13 days old. This means Bram must have started the second nest in early August, days after his first nest was found empty. While we don't know what this means for the fate of his first 2 chicks, it is great to see him having a second nest this breeding season.

Research has shown that the Turtle Dove breeding season is much shorter than it was back in the 1960s. Bram and his partner are therefore part of an elite group: only 5% of the Turtle Dove population starts a nest in August.


© 2019 Les Deux Touradiens

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