Volunteers surveyed Cropton Forest in 2016, Dalby Forest in 2017 with the intention to cover Wykeham and Broxa Forests next season.
The North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project began in earnest in June 2017, after the appointment of Richard Baines to the post of Turtle Dove Project Officer based at the North York Moors National Park. It was a busy first few months. Richard had to hit the ground running, as observations were already coming in of Turtle Doves fresh in from their wintering grounds in West Africa.
The priority for the first few months was obtaining and collating as many records as possible from farms, birding groups and volunteer Turtle Dove surveys in the forest areas. Dalby Forest was the focus of the Turtle Dove volunteer survey this year, coordinated again by Cath Bashforth, Forestry Commission’s Ecologist. (See my earlier blog post here on my own volunteer experience in Dalby this year.) In 2016 the first volunteer Turtle Dove survey looked at Cropton Forest. Next year Richard will be incorporating the administration of this ongoing survey into his role and stepping up the volunteer effort, organizing dawn visits to 1km squares in Wykeham and Broxa Forests and also the Howardian Hills and Cleveland Hills, which is no small undertaking. Incidentally if you are a competent birder local to these areas and want to know more do let Richard have your email by dropping him a line at the conservation department.
With these dainty doves safely back in Africa, Richard has been able to shift focus for the autumn and winter. Their return migration will be in springtime, usually arriving back in Yorkshire around May. Turtle Dove sightings from 2017 season have been logged and further reports of recent or historic sightings compiled. In August Richard began visiting potential sites for project interventions such as farms, rural villages and even quarry sites where habitat could be improved for Turtle Doves and where community engagement might be targetted. A programme of talks to local interest groups has already kicked off with around 150 people to date hearing about the new project first hand.
The main points from Richard’s October 2017 Project Update to partners are reproduced below:
Evaluation underway by North East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre [project partner]. Maximum of 173 birds recorded including both formal surveys and additional records.
• Dalby 2017 survey complete
• Cropton 2017 follow-up monitoring complete
• 2018 planning Broxa and Wykeham surveys
• 2018 planning Howardian Hills survey
• 2018 planning Cleveland Hills survey
• Farm visits started August 2017 (targetted by bird data received)
• At least six farms are now lined up for seed mix sites to be sown in 2018
• Wykeham Quarry (Hanson Ltd.) committed to sowing two sites with mixes.
• Community reserve planned at Sawdon inc. dew pond and nearby TD sown mix.
• Targetting started on supplementary feeding sites for April 2018 (awaiting final results from RSPB research Dec 2017). Sites will be located very close to existing TD populations
• New community reserves planned for Lockton, Ampleforth
Grants and Budgets for Conservation Sites
• Current TD project budget has some funds earmarked for supplementary feeding and seed mixes.
• A new North York Moors National Park conservation grant is a major boost to the project. Will fund up to 12 seed mix sowing sites over project duration as long term seven year agreements. Expected to start with six sites in 2018.
Interpretation and Talks
• Seven talks delivered with a further eight planned prior to April 2018. New requests arriving weekly. All talks currently in Yorkshire; majority within project area, proving to be a very good way of reaching local farmers/parishes which can then undertake conservation measures.
• Planning for static interpretation displays has started. The first may be Dalby Visitor Centre.
• Identification cards commissioned using Jonathan Pomroy, a local bird artist with Turtle Doves near his home in Gilling!
• Meeting in Nov. with Head of Education and Youth Engagement, at NYMNP to set up education visits for 2018.
UPDATE Jan 2018. Please use the hashtag #TurtleDovelove when sharing this blog or any news and sightings on social media. We have decided to commandeer the tag for the project as it sums up our strong feelings for this beautiful summer visitor.