For the past two years we have been working with Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) scientist Dr Kirsty Swinnerton studying the movement of the UK’s fastest declining bird – the Turtle Dove. In 2022, with a special licence issued by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), our ringers trapped five doves and put coloured rings on their legs so they could be easily identified if seen again. Using trail cameras, we were able to track them around local farms and gain insights into their population numbers, breeding habitat and survival: four of our birds successfully returned to Marden after migrating to central Africa for winter and were tracked around the local farms for another summer.
In 2023 we not only colour ringed another five doves, but also attached GPS tracking devices to three of them to track their movement in much greater detail: hourly throughout the day for a month during their breeding period. Again, this could only be done under licence from the BTO and a specially trained KWT scientist – Dr Chas Holt.
The results have provided unique insights into their movements around the area and how they are using local land. This is being shared with local farmers and landowners so we can improve the local habitat for these beautiful birds. Hopefully, we may be able to secure further funds for next year we can continue our research and ensure Marden retains its welcoming habitat for these globally threatened birds.