Although some European Turtle Doves have already left their breeding grounds, the rest are still fattening themselves up for their long journey to Africa. This fattening-up period is essential if they hope to survive their migration, and harvested grain and seed fields are some of the best places they forage.
Here in the Netherlands, Jos and Bram are still looking for food. We followed Bram's GPS tag to a field where poppyseed was grown this year. While we didn't spot Bram, there were 5 other Turtle Doves foraging here - not something you see every day. What's more, these doves were a mix young and adult birds.
What makes this field so attractive? After harvesting the poppies, the stubble has been left. This means that any seed that escaped harvest is simply lying on the ground and available to the birds. For Turtle Doves, who are exclusively seed eaters, this is a fantastic source of energy. Bram has visited this field for several hours, every day since mid-August. Poppyseed must be particularly tasty: Henk, one of our doves in 2019, also spent a great deal of time on the only poppyseed field available in the area!