Enough to make you weep
I saw a picture on Twitter today of a hunter standing proudly behind his latest haul - about 50 Turtle Doves and a Golden Oriole. I don't know what part of North Africa or the Mediterranean that the picture was taken (and am assuming that it was taken this Spring). Don't assume that this post is now going to take off into a rant against the evils of hunting 'our' birds - I don't agree with the killing of them, but then again I haven't been born into a culture where such practices are part of the way of life. It's also rich that 'we' can preach to so called 'backward' people about their environmental disgraces when we have clear-felled our forests, over-fished our seas, more or less wiped out our farmland birds, poisoned our pollinating insects and are having to re-introduce raptors because we murdered the bloody things in the first place...
Seeing those lifeless doves drove small nails into my heart because it becomes less likely that I will hear one of the finest sounds in nature this coming summer - the soporific purr of the Turtle Dove - redolent of balmy days, verdant hedgerows and lazy torpid air.
In just one birder's lifetime we have gone from this species being a staple of the countryside to becoming a bit of a rarity. I can scarcely believe that at Walberswick, in 1976, I saw a flock of over 150. I doubt that I'll see that many in the UK again, even if I live to be 100.
I don't mourn the missing of a rarity, but do the absence of such a charismatic bird. I'd swap every last decent species on my worthless life list to return them to their former glory. Purr on, my little beauties, purr on...
I support some forms of shooting in this country because in a lot of cases it means that valuable habitat is maintained for the benefit of far more endangered species than pheasants but look at the Grey Partridge. It is now a rare bird in much of the countryside for several reasons but it is still legal to shoot them each winter, hunters in Malta could ask why.
I have recently made comment upon the state of Song Thrushes in my local area - times they are a changing and with it the flora and fauna; with a bias to the detriment of what we once considered to be "regular" species. I'm sure we all have our own theories - but the hypocrisy of the situation of a UK resident complaining about ecological impact of shooting Turtle Doves whilst still paying their water rates/gas bills is ludicrous. The UK is on the brink of ecological abyss - better we sort our own problems out before pointing fingers elsewhere? - Loving it! Dyl