Leica are delighted to announce their new partnership with the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project. In celebration we have also launched the ‘Doodle a Dove’ competition where you could be in with the chance of winning a pair of the Leica Trinovid 10×32 HD-Plus binoculars. Read on to learn more about the project and the competition.
In my long life as a birder, I have learnt to identify any large, pigeon like bird, which clatters through the trees as a blundering Woodpigeon. These very successful birds are with us all year round fattening up on our winter bird tables. European Turtle Doves, however, are a very different story. A class act no bashing of wings, but a silent flutter, and an enticing soft purr. The beautiful Turtle Dove is our smallest European dove. This tiny power house of a bird flies 11,200 km to reach North Yorkshire from Mali in Africa each spring.
Unfortunately, Turtle Doves are in big trouble. Their population has declined in Europe to such an extent there are fewer than 2,000 birds in the UK when only 50 years ago it was classed as a fairly common bird. In North Yorkshire we have been fortunate to have them nesting in our forests for over 100 years, and there are still between 50 and 100 singing males in our area every year.
Why are Turtle Doves in Trouble?
Hunting on their migration flyway has badly affected Turtle Dove populations but habitat decline has also been a big problem. Turtle Doves are no different from many other birds; they need food, shelter and water. However, changes in land management practices means there are fewer places they can find the tiny native seeds they prefer to feed on, from plants such as Birds-foot Trefoil or Fumitory. They like to nest in large scrubby hedges or young forest plantations. Ponds are essential too, providing a good supply of drinking water. Our North Yorkshire Turtle Dove volunteer project was set up in 2016 to help conserve our population.
Where Can I See Turtle Doves?
One of the best sites to see them in North Yorkshire is at our National Park Visitor centre at Sutton Bank, between Helmsley and Thirsk. They visit the bird feeding station early in the morning when there are fewer visitors around. Turtle Doves can be shy and wary which is not surprising when you consider the illegal hunting which occurs during their migration across southern Europe and North Africa every year. They arrive back from Africa in late April and leave in September. May and June are often best for sightings and a great time to listen out for their soporific purring song.
How Can I help?
To raise awareness of our new web site raising funds for Turtle Dove conservation and celebrate our North Yorkshire Turtle Doves we are holding a ‘Doodle a Dove’ competition this winter in partnership with Leica Sport Optics. I bought my first pair of Leica binoculars in 1995 and I remember how excited I was to own a pair; I still have the same binoculars and they area still amazing.
To learn how to enter and see all the prizes please visit our Art page on our website: www.northdove.co.uk/art-projects/