From small dreams of local action for threatened birds, bigger projects can grow! In 2015 our group of local naturalists, birders and conservationists decided to form the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project. Our vision was to collect accurate population and distribution data within the Great Yorkshire Forest as quickly as possible with a view to using the results to help this very special bird. We were a small group of dedicated volunteers with no real idea of how our dreams could grow so quickly …
Only a year later our success led to a new Heritage Lottery (HLF) funded project. A strong partnership was forged between North York Moors National Park (NYMNP), Forestry Commission (FC), North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre (NEYEDC), Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Scarborough Borough Council (SBC). The project area now covers a total of 100,000 hectares of land from Scarborough to Helmsley and down beyond Ampleforth in the AONB.
Our formal surveys started in 2016, with 28 volunteers in the forest at dawn. I was worried that the start time would put people off but quite the opposite happened, as everyone loved being out in the forest at dawn and it created a great opportunity for birding, with species such as and seen by some volunteers.