Friday, 4 March 2011

Oriental Turtle Dove!!!

Photographed by Roger Wyatt

In 2010, every time a rare bird turned up in Britain I would do my very best to try and twitch it! However, after spending far too much money on train fares, travelling hundreds of miles all over the United Kingdom, it soon hit home and twitching began to drain out of my system. Although at the beginning of 2011, I said to myself that I wasn't going to twitch this year, I knew that something would be too tempting and all hell would break loose.

So when an Oriental Turtle Dove {Form Orientalis} turned up in a garden in Oxfordshire, I was hopeful that the bird would stay for some time and that there was a chance of me seeing it. A few weeks passed and time was ticking, as I just couldn't find the time to twitch it. Luckily on Tuesday 22nd February I had the day off and the bird was still there! So the night before, I hopped on a train to Rhyl, where I kipped at Alex's house that night and early the next morning, myself and Alex set off in search of this rare dove.. {If this was last year when I was doing my big yearlist, I wouldn't have left it as long as I did}.

Photographed by Jason Stannage

Seeing as though the bird had been in the area for quite some time, more or less every twitcher had seen it and there were just a few left-overs.. On arrival at 'The Leys' a few birders were in sight and shortly after, Steve Aker in which this was the guy who had found the dove and in his garden too, opened his front door to say that the bird was in the garden, on the bird table!!?

Standing in his kitchen, staring through the window into this superb garden filled with birds, there..sat at the back..was the Oriental Turtle Dove!! Unfortunately it was so hot in the room with 30 or so birders, trying to get a good view of the bird, my bins steamed up, but this was shortly resolved. Ridiculously poor pictures were obtained so attached is an image of the dove in the garden, photographed by Roger Wyatt. What a great picture Roger!!

After satisfying views, we made our way out and sat in the car, munching lunch and dwelling on what we had just witnessed.. A cracking bird! This was the 3rd record for Britain for this race of Rufouls Turtle Dove, as there has only been 2 previous records since 1881!

Moving off from here, the thick fog that had been with us all morning, still hadn't lifted so we decided to give the nearby Drake American Wigeon a miss. Thankfully, we made the right decision as the bird wasn't seen all day.

From here we headed to Willington Gravel Pits in Derbyshire for a Black-Throated Diver. A short walk across a few muddy fields and into a wood and there was the bird..

Although having to view from this distance, good views were had! The bird was on the far section of water beyond the river, quite a way away!

Nearby, a flock of 16 Bewick's swans was a nice way to end a very successfull day's twitching!

To see Alex's account of our Oxfordshire twitch, visit:-

If you are interested about more information on the bird, it's location and general ecology, to see more information, visit:-


  1. The householders must have been very patient people, what with all those birders to entertain.

  2. Hi John, These folk were incredibly patient as nearly 2,000 people visited the site over the few weeks that the bird was present in the garden. I was out of there within 5 minutes. Standing in someones kitchen isn't my kind of birding/twitching. Many thanks for the comment.
    Regards Chris