‘Triffic Tripits

The one about listening for Turtle Doves but finding Tree Pipits instead…

30 Days Wild day 25

Yesterday I was up with the lark and the tree pipit to conduct a follow up bird survey in Dalby Forest. My first visit was in late May. As then , I made arrangement to camp at  Ellerburn campsite with a three thirty am alarm call and hike up to the Pexton Moor entrance toll of Dalby, for this was my allocated 1km square.

I am one of about thirty volunteer bird surveyors contributing to a new conservation project for Turtle Doves, an iconic summer visitor to Britain which is an increasingly rare sight and sound. You will no doubt hear more about this project if you follow the conservation blog of the North York Moors National Park, (link here) which is hosting the project officer and has received Heritage Lottery funding for the scheme.

You may also like to read my blog on Connecting for Nature, introducing the ‘Two Turtle Doves’ project, when funding was confirmed recently, but in this post I am sharing some photos from my early morning explorations. I have to say I generally head into Dalby Forest on the toll road without pausing at the Pexton Moor area, near the entrance, so it was a joy to discover that there is such interesting nature to see even before you enter the forest proper.

Briefly, the purpose of my visit was to listen specifically for purring Turtle Doves, as part of a wider survey of randomised OS grid squares across the forest. There were some patches of suitable habitat for the bird but by no means was it guaranteed to encounter any. Fortunately the survey also asked for tallies of some additional species of conservation concern, and I was able to confirm not one but two Tree Pipit territories meet in my square, in an eminently suitable ‘tripit’ habitat east of the entrance toll. The males have a distinctive song, usually delivered from a lofty perch in otherwise open forest clearings. I was really pleased with this record, as until a few years ago I had never seen or heard Tree Pipits, so these self-found birds are extra special. And they go on my survey return. No Turtle Doves in this square, this time….but perhaps the Turtle Dove Project will help the existing breeding population elsewhere in North Yorkshire’s forests to expand. I hope you hear more about the project in the media soon and follow its progress.

Author: Tim Burkinshaw

I work in ecology and biodiversity in North Yorkshire. I'm often found outdoors snapping nature and landscapes or spotting birds. Always aspiring to be a better naturalist, but I have a particular thing for wetlands. As a gardener I enjoy having my hands in the earth, and getting the perfect mix of greens and browns in my compost! As a Daddy I'm somewhere between pretty good and awesome. On a good day. If you spot me and my hat in real life or on social media do say hello!

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