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How do you tell stock doves from wood pigeons?

PETER THEOBALD says: For the novice, differentiating between a stock dove and a woody can be quite tricky, but it does get easier with experience. It is one thing noting the differences from a bird book, but quite another when you only have a split second to decide, as a grey blur swoops into the decoys.

Apart from the obvious difference in size and plumage, the one thing that sets stock doves apart from woodpigeons, is its ability to accelerate and change direction in the blink of an eye. If you are in any doubt as a bird approaches, wait till it comes within range then gently show yourself. Believe me, you will soon know if it is a stockie!

Also, don’t forget that stock doves – or blue rocks – as some people call them, are on the protected list.

Another protected bird you should learn to recognise is the beautiful turtle dove – a spring and summer visitor from Africa. A novice shooter who hasn’t taken time to study the obvious differences in plumage might sometimes mistake it for the common collared dove. The two birds are similar in size but there’s no real excuse for muddling them up.

No sportsman worthy of the name will fire at any creature unless he’s absolutely certain of what it is, and that it’s legal quarry.

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