Should you be anticipating a present of two Turtle Doves this Xmas, from your true love, as the carol goes, you will inevitably be in for a disappointment.
Latest compiled figures show the numbers of Turtle Doves have depleted by nearly two thirds in five years, with just 14,000 pairs in Britain the species is in dire straits. The RSPB states that the Grey Partridge - which also features in the song – is also under threat.
Losing six out of ten of our Turtle Doves and three out of ten of our Grey Partridge in just five years, you do not have to be a mathematician to work out the scenario of the next ten years, these figures if correct makes both species an unsustainable wildlife disaster.
These two icons of Christmas are telling us that wildlife not just for them but in general has reached crisis point.
Turtle Doves for the record and for the uninitiated are never here at Christmas they migrate and winter in Africa, it is said that intensive farming in the sub Saharan wintering ground are robbing the birds of natural habitat, the journey back to us they are running the gauntlet of Mediterranean hunters eager to shoot them for the pot.
And finally in all my years in the countryside I have never seen a partridge in a pear tree, and the composer of the carol, we can assume was not associated with birdlife in any way.
I can also say that personally I have not heard or seen a Turtle Dove for four years and have not photographed one for five years.