News broke late January/early February about an Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove that had been present in an Oxfordshire garden in early December 2010, but by the time news filtered out there was no sign of the bird. However, many people were hopeful that it would be refound due to previous records of long-staying birds in Europe.
Skip forward a few weeks and news broke that 'the Dove' had been relocated in a birders garden in the small village/small town in Oxfordshire, less than a Km from the original location, cue manic scenes in the national press of twitchers queuing miles up a suburban street to gain views of the bird feeding in the garden etc etc. The area the bird was frequenting was an area of very mature and well vegetated gardens making viewing difficult and restricted. At first it appeared as though the 'locals' were enjoying the publicity and the novelty, however, by this weekend it appeared as though this may be waining, not surprisingly given some idiots still ignore the numerous, yet polite requests to NOT enter other peoples gardens, drive up the street etc.
I've seen Oriental Turtle Dove in India so I wasn't too fussed about racing down for it, plus I've been fairly busy with work the last couple of week, however they are spectacular birds and as the week progressed the lure of the bird grew more and more.
I think this record relates to about the 10th confirmed/accepted UK record of Oriental Turtle Dove. Two records were not assigned to race (Highland 2002 and Isles of Scilly 1960), however at least four of the records have related to the Streptopelia orientalis meena subspecies (Highland 2004, Caithness 2003, Orkney 2002, East Yorkshire 1975), with at least three, this being the fourth relating to Streptopelia orientalis orientalis, a good candidate for a potential future split [Rufous Turtle Dove]. Other records of orientalis occurred in Shetland (1974), Norfolk (1946), North Yorkshire (1889). Hence why a mainland Oriental/Rufous Turtle Dove would be very attractive to a whole host of twitchers!
Yesterday morning I set of south with Dave and Tony, not really knowing how busy it was likely to be once we got there. The journey flew by and we found ourselves stood in Steve's kitchen watching the splendid bird before 9am! We were a little surprised by how few people were present and we were expecting to have to queue for ages to get in, good job we didn't as the weather was appalling! The bird was pretty inactive unfortunately, likely due to the weather. It did show well though occasionally as it preened, allowing good views of all of the key identification features to be assessed, overall a really smart bird.
The picture below was taken by Bob Duckhouse last week when the bird was showing a bit better than yesterday. Check out Bobs blog here.
Rufous Turtle Dove © Bob Duckhouse 2011.
A big thank you to Steve and his family for generously allowing access to their house. Other birds noted in the garden included 3/4 Brambling, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, assorted Tits amongst others...
Thanks also to Tony for driving.