The North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, got underway in 2017. An essential part of the project is to locate breeding Turtle Doves, a summer visitor to North Yorkshire’s forests, farms and villages and identify population hotspots to better target local conservation efforts.
If you are a birder or naturalist with some experience or a willingness to learn to identify a small number of species by sight or song – including the Turtle Dove, then read on. The Project Officer, Richard Baines is coordinating with Forestry Commission and other landowners a survey of random 1km grid squares in likely territory. The snag is that the optimum time of day for detecting these elusive summer visitors is the first two hours after dawn, when they are most likely to perform their distinctive and un-mistakeable purring song, so the survey method calls for an early start!
The last two summers, 2016 and 2017 have already seen parts of the North Yorkshire forest district visited by early-rising volunteers. (Cropton Forest and Dalby Forest respectively.) In 2018 the project expands to cover a wider area, including Wykeham Forest as well as suitable parts of the Howardian Hills AONB, plus some follow up monitoring visits to sample of squares in Cropton and Dalby.
A written methodology is provided for volunteers to follow, ensuring consistency between surveys. Two dawn survey visits are called for in May – July. A daytime recce is also required to check out the lay of the land, identify the route to be walked and check for hazards. The survey visits take place at least 10 days apart and must begin as close as possible to daybreak.
Since the survey’s geographical scope is widening new volunteers are sought. Local birding groups around York, Scarborough, Ryedale and adjoining areas are being approached. It may also mean that the project has to use volunteers who have not done surveys before or who are reasonably competent birdwatchers but have never seen or heard Turtle Doves. This might be achieved by buddying-up less experienced newbies with volunteers who have surveyed the forests for Turtle Doves in previous years. If you have some birding experience, binoculars, keen ears and access to a vehicle* and you fancy taking on a dawn visit square, or if you are interested in helping but may need some support or mentoring, the Project Officer would love to hear from you. *Volunteers’ travel expenses are reimbursed so you are not left out of pocket.
drop a line to Richard Baines, North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project using the email below firstname.lastname@example.org