Change to '12 Days of Christmas'?

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With the 12 Days of Christmas almost upon us comes the news that local birdwatchers are seeking a change to the famous song.

As everyone knows, the penultimate line features "Two Turtle Doves." Unfortunately, Turtle Doves, once widespread across Cheshire, have now disappeared as their range contracts southwards.

In contrast, Collared Doves, which first appeared in Cheshire in 1960 after sweeping northwest across Europe from the Balkans in the 50s are now seen in gardens and fields throughout the area.

Campaigners are therefore contacting OffCarol, the Government Quango responsible for regulating the lyrics of Britain's carols, asking that the penultimate line becomes "Two Collared Doves" in Cheshire and across the North of England.

Audlem is in a particularly strategic position as it is, geographically, the most southerly village in the official North of England.

The mammoth work by David Norman of Liverpool University, 'Birds in Cheshire and Wirral' shows how rapid the decline and now disappearance of Turtle Doves has been. While they were present in 144 Cheshire tetrads ( 2km squares) as recently as 1978 — 84, they had pretty well disappeared by 2006 with no confirmed records of breeding.

There may still be some Turtle Doves in parts of Shropshire but their disappearance from the North of England now seems complete.

In contrast, Collared Doves are now seen everywhere and indeed breed in virtually every one of Cheshire and Wirral's 670 tetrads.

The request will therefore ask that the carol's final lines in Cheshire and throughout the North would be more relevant as:
"Two Collared Doves....
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree."

We will keep you posted when an official response is received from OffCarol.

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