Duncan Farrington: Return of the turtle doves

Turtle doves have returned to Bottom Farm
Turtle doves have returned to Bottom Farm
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Over the years I have had bird surveys carried out on the farm.

Primarily because I find this sort of thing interesting and while I am no bird expert (although I have learned a lot in the last few years), I do like to know what we have and what we can do to improve the likelihood of getting more species on the farm.

Local conservation expert Dr Mark Avery has been surveying the birds at Bottom Farm since 2003.

Back then he got very excited when he found turtle doves on the farm, which came back each year to nest.

Unfortunately, in recent years he thought they had disappeared, which is the case in much of the UK.

However I was delighted recently when I thought I had spotted them here again.

An excited call to Mark, who came out and confirmed, even more excitedly, that I was right!

They’re back. This is great news, especially so as it was waste seeds I scatter around the farm from Farrington Oils, that they were feeding on.

Mark has just launched a new book, A Message from Martha, which talks about the sad demise of the last passenger pigeon in America 100 years ago and the social history around the subject.

It also draws parallels with the plight of the Turtle Dove today in the UK, mentioning our farm as part of the message.

I haven’t read the copy kindly given to me yet, due to harvest keeping me busy at the moment, but am looking forward to soon. Until then it looks great on the coffee table, with the cover designed by local artist, Carry Akroyd.

Harvest is in full swing, with the rapeseed nearly gathered in, giving very pleasing results following a near perfect growing season.

Marvin is taking over from Father as the main combine driver this year, for which he has some big boots to fill.

After more than 40 years’ experience driving combine harvesters, there is not much my Father doesn’t know and to let a new man lose on our beloved machine can’t be easy.

However Father seems reasonably relaxed, showing Marvin the finer points to help make him into an experienced operator in time.

Once we have finished the rapeseed, there will be a few days catching up on other jobs around the farm in readiness for the main wheat harvest to start in August.

This is when the real fun starts and it all gets a bit hectic, so preparation is key.