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A Christmas confession: two turtle doves

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

The lyrics for The Twelve Days of Christmas are some of the most well known and, having just received the Avon Bird Report covering 2022’s records, the second verse is most apposite for the LANCE Trust:

"On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree."

Yet the report has also instilled a feeling of guilt amongst the Trustees.

The Avon Bird Report is a vital tool in assessing the abundance of species in South Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset. It is a comprehensive tool in detailing the decline or rise of individual species over decades. And it relies on various surveys as well as accurate observations from others. Details of national rarities should be sent to Bristol Regional Environmental Records Office.

Coincidentally, the most popular post since we began our blogs, with 221 views, is dated 16 May 2022 when a turtle dove visited one of our trustee’s gardens for several days. We had meant to submit our photographic evidence, grid reference, dates and details to BRERC, but pressure from daily life meant we kept putting it off...

Now, the report tells us just how rare that sighting was. In 2022, just two turtle doves were recorded in the whole of Avon – one in Wickwar during April 2022 and one in Hewish in October 2022.

If we had put in our records, the famous lyrics would have been inaccurate since there were actually three turtle doves spotted in Avon during 2022. It is the first time turtle doves have been recorded in Avon since one was spotted in 2017. This is exciting in one way, but depressing in another since they used to be a fairly common summer visitor in Long Ashton, but the species has undergone a steep decline and the last breeding record was in 1983.

However, one of our New Year’s resolution is to try and be better at submitting our records to the relevant places and if anyone wants to help us, please get in touch!


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