Operation Turtle Dove, a partnership project we are involved in, is running a lovely little competition for children over the festive period called a Postcard from Titan…
Who is Titan?
Titan the Turtle Dove is a very special bird. He is the first Turtle Dove to be successfully tracked from his breeding grounds in the East of England to his winter home in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the summer of 2014 Titan was fitted with a specially designed satellite tag, weighing just 4.9 grams. He then spent the summer near his breeding grounds, before starting his migration at the end of September. Researchers at the RSPB were able to track him as he flew through France and Spain, stopping off for a few days in North Africa before settling in Mali in late October.
Titan’s return to England started on the 19th May this year when he left Mali and began the 5,600km journey back. Having crossed the 2,000km of Sahara desert, he spent a couple of weeks refuelling in Morocco, then another couple of weeks making his way through Spain and France, before finally settling near to where he had been tagged. This year Titan has once again successfully undertaken this mammoth journey to Mali! What a lot of places this dainty bird has visited!
Why is Titan so important to us?
Turtle doves are the UK’s only migrant dove and they herald the arrival of summer with their distinctive ‘turr-turr’ call. But this sound is becoming scarce. The Turtle Dove population is halving every six years and if the decline keeps going at this rate we risk losing the Turtle dove as a breeding species in the UK! Titan provides us with important information about the habitats of turtle doves and the route they take on migration. We can target our efforts to save them along this route.