14 June 2012

Breeding European Turtle Dove – Dhahran Hills

There has been very little about lately which is not surprising as it is the middle of June which is the slowest time of year here in the Eastern province if my records from last year are anything to go by. There are only really the few resident breeders present of which I managed to photograph a pair of European Turtle Doves, which breed in small numbers in the Dhahran Camp. This is a species which is in considerable decline over much of its breeding range. This decline was first documented in at the beginning of the second part of the 20th century (1970’s), especially in Western Europe where the decline has been strongly linked to intensification of agriculture. The main treats to the species are destruction and modification of the breeding habitats, droughts and climate change in their wintering areas and hunting. The species has a low productivity rate and suffers from low adult and juvenile survivorship and in the United Kingdom the species population declined by 90% between 1997 and 2010. In the European Union the following countries are legally allowed to hunt the species, Austria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal & Spain were between 2 – 4 million birds are killed each year. Hopefully, the breeding birds in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia as well as Bahrain remain in a healthy state and breeding birds in this region can help balance the serious losses from elsewhere in the species range.