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Turtle Doves Newsletter Autumn 2020

North Yorkshire Turtle Dove ProjectNorth Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project

Welcome to our third newsletter. After a difficult summer for us all we are pleased to announce the project received more reports of Turtle Doves this year than 2019!

Survey results 2020

Formal surveys

A total of 20 monitoring squares were surveyed this year. A maximum of 33 and a minimum of 23 singing males were found in these 1km squares. Turtle Doves were found in 50% of the squares.

Additional sightings

Many additional sightings were sent to our project this year. These included a minimum of 63 singing males which were found in locations away from our formal survey squares. This gives a total of 86 singing males in our project area in 2020. The number of unique singing males found in each of the four years of our project has been consistently between 50 and 100 birds.


A grand total of 270 Turtle Doves were found. Many of the additional records will have been seen more than once but the good news is this is 28 more than 2019.

With less surveys in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions we are very pleased with the results. A Big Thank You to everyone who sent us sightings this year. We now know where most of our Turtle Doves are in North Yorkshire. This is a big help, allowing us to target conservation work in the areas where Turtle Doves need it most.

Turtle Dove wild flower grant plots really do work!

On the 24th June this year I received a message from one of our volunteers, Andy Malley (Turtle Dove Surveyor). Andy was pleased to report several singing males on his survey and mentioned two he photographed in a ‘weedy corner’ of a nearby field. ‘Please send me a map of where they were’ was my response, then wow! I gave out a big cheer as I realised this was the first photo of a Turtle Dove feeding in one of our specially sown and funded flower strips. I immediately phoned the farmer to tell him the great news. This is a great example of the partnership between conservation bodies, volunteers and farmers to produce real results which make a difference for wildlife.

Turtle Dove in our new Turtle Dove wild flower grant plot by Andy Malley

Turtle Dove in our new Turtle Dove wild flower grant plot by Andy Malley

International links and stories

Good news from France. After a shocking decision by the ‘ecology’ ministry on the 28th August to allow the hunting of 17,460 Turtle Doves this autumn, the decision has now been overturned by the highest court in France. Read more and to show your support to French conservationists see the Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) website

National Turtle Dove survey 2021

News from Dr Guy Anderson RSPB UK Migrants Recovery Programme Manager

“I wanted to give you an early update on a planned UK national survey of Turtle Doves, to take place in spring/summer 2021. The Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP) and RSPB, with the sup-port of BTO and Natural England, are hoping to partner with local Bird Clubs/Ornithological Societies to get the survey work done by volunteer effort. Initial discussions with local Bird Clubs are happening now, and study methodologies are being finalised. A national survey next year will be very timely, as it will give us a good stock-take of where Turtle Doves still persist across the whole country, it will give us a better total population estimate, and we can use it to determine whether or not conservation efforts for this species are all being focussed in the right places within England”

More info to follow and how we will be integrating our surveys in the national scheme.

More great dew pond restoration news

Hot off the press! We have just finished restoring a historical dew pond on a farm in the eastern part of the Turtle Dove Project area near Scarborough thanks to project funds and Mike Hainsworth, a local contractor. The great thing about this pond is its proximity to one of our Turtle Dove wild flower plots and Wykeham Forest. This gives local Turtle Doves and other wildlife the big three; nesting habitat, food and water.

Pond before restoration by Richard Baines 2019.

Before restoration. The pond had become dry and dominated by grasses and reedmace with no space for open water.

Excavation revealed the old lime layer of the original dew pond possibly over 100 years old.

Dew Pond

Dew Pond renovation

After restoration the final gravel layer was created.

Photo below a grey wagtail feeding by the side of a dew pond we completed in February 2020 by Richard Baines.

Grey wagtail feeding by the side of a dew pond we completed in February 2020 by Richard Baines

Turtle Dove gallery

Turtle dove on wooden fence post

This gorgeous photo was taken by Nathaniel Jordan Dargue on the 8th June in North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project — The Future

At the end of October this year our funded project comes to an end. However our project will continue with Richard as the Volunteer Project Officer supported by the North York Moors NP, North and East Yorkshire Data Centre, Forestry England and Scarborough Borough Council with additional advice and support from Operation Turtle Dove.

Surveys will start again in May 2021! Please get in touch with us if you would like to volunteer. Email

We hope you have enjoyed this newsletter, if you have any feedback or requests for future issues please send an email to Please check out our webpage for more Turtle Dove news and advice.

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