A very merry Christmas!

With everyone focussed on mulled wine and mince pies I though I’d share a festive and extremely special post…

Turtle Dove

Thee quarters of the Dove Step team were up in the Arctic back in March and had the good pleasure of meeting Ms Jane Tavener, who was then at the beginning of her Learn.Draw.BIRD journey. I am honoured that the latest post over on the Learn.Draw.BIRD site is dedicated to Turtle Doves, Operation Turtle Dove and indeed Dove Step. Be sure to give it a look and with many thanks Jane.

Happy Christmas!


We won’t forget you Martha!

Thanks Jonny for the lead in from your previous post……

We are all really excited about participating in Dove Step……not just because we are absolutely passionate about the cause but also because it will be an undoubted epic adventure! The walking of 300 miles across the historic core range of the Turtle Dove is a fantastic symbolic adventure; but one thing we have discussed during the planning of Dove Step is what is next! We don’t want Dove Step to be a single event as such, we really want it to be the catalyst for a series of conservation fuelled adventures!

Back in October I received a magazine from the Virgin London Marathon…..it said ‘you’re in’!

Oh f~@ck!
Oh f@ck!

I’d forgotten that I’d applied……but now I actually have a place on the London Marathon in 2014! After the initial panic was over, I was pretty pleased that I had secured a place on the  biggest road marathon in the world! I ignored the painful memories from the last time I did this event (about five years ago) with pretty much no preparation! Thankfully I am already a lot more prepared as I have been doing ridiculous amounts of running since February this year! I decided I wanted to use this opportunity to continue what we are starting with Dove Step and continue to raise funds for and awareness of Operation Turtle Dove!

However…..I never do things the straight forward way……

Whilst travelling to Sheffield by coach to give a talk to Sheffield Bird Study Group I had a ridiculous idea……….what if I ran fourteen marathon’s in 2014….you know…..instead of just the one?

This all seemed very sensible to me! The other thing that lodged in my mind (thanks to reminders via Mark Avery’s blog) was the significance of 2014 in relation to pigeons/doves and extinctions….

Martha....the last Passanger Pigeon
Martha….the last Passenger Pigeon

On September the 1st 1914 Martha, the very last Passenger Pigeon died; marking the extinction of what was formally believed to be the most common bird on the planet! The rapid decline of this species was caused by habitat loss and hunting. There are harrowing parallels between the demise of the Passenger Pigeon and the rapid decline (see Jonny’s previous post here) of the Turtle Dove!  I am adamant that we should never forget Martha and we should not and cannot allow the same fate to happen to our much loved Turtle Dove!

So as a continuation of what we have started with Dove Step my mad plan has been hatched…..

I will run a minimum of 14 Marathons (including an ultra or two) during 2014 and I pledge to run (including the marathons) a minimum of 1000 miles during that same year _ I have called this project ‘Running 1000 miles in memory of Martha’. You can find out more about this project here: http://www.theinkednaturalist.co.uk/1000-miles-memory-martha/

As an added incentive (and in line with my ‘Inked Naturalist alter ego)…if I we raise over £1000 in donations for Operation Turtle Dove through Dove Step/1000 miles in memory of Martha I will pledge to get a design featuring the Passenger Pigeon and the Turtle Dove tattooed onto my skin!

You can donate here:


or here:


alternatively you can donate with your mobile phone by sending a text to 70070 with the code DOVE75 followed by the amount you would like to donate (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5, or £10).

Twelve days of Christmas…

Firstly a very merry Christmas!

As you can see from Tris and Rob’s recent posts despite the indulgences of the festive period training continues and we are still keeping a close eye on all things Turtle Dove and Dove Step.

To contrast the new Atlas Data, which the BTO kindly let us reproduce on here last month Rob dusted off his copy of the 1968 – 72 Atlas which paints an all together different picture:

1968 - 72 Bird Atlas
The last 2 paragraphs of the BTO 68-72 Atlas entry for Turtle Dove.

Imagine a summer with 500 pairs of Turtle Dove if favourable 10km squares and with 125 000 pairs in the Country! Wow! 

Such is the plight of Turtle Dove nowadays that even the tabloids have had to take note! With the Mirror running an article earlier this month, including the comparative figures for the above:

… But the number of breeding pairs in the UK is thought to have dropped below 14,000, with a fall in numbers of 95% since 1970 and 84% since 1995. 
This article goes on to draw comparisons between the extinction of Passenger Pigeon in the States and the potential for Turtle Doves to follow the same path in the UK. More on that in upcoming posts…

As ever it s not all doom and gloom! We continue to prepare for our walk, last week half of the team attended a Royal Geographical Society lecture in Norwich with guest speaker and long distance walker Brian Mooney entitled ‘On foot to Rome and back.. ‘ It was a short but exciting presentation and we were also afforded time after the talk with Mr Mooney to glean tips for our own efforts. A true gent.

Brian Mooney
Left to right Sir Rob, Brian Mooney and me (Jonny)

In other good news, be sure to add your name to the RSPB campaign asking David Cameron to get a better deal for Wildlife Friendly Farming and why not purchase a Turtle Dove themed t-shirt for a loved one? This is designed by Dove Step supporter and artist Gyr Crakes who is also making a donation from sales to the Dove Step JustGiving page. A true gent and an honour to have him on board!

Walking the Spit

I hadn’t done a walk for a couple of weeks, for various reasons. For one, after the last walk, I had a stiff and painful left leg inherited from an old lower back problem, and I wanted to give it a bit of a rest. However, I have recently discovered that stretching it removes virtually all the pain, so…game on!

I decided to walk Blakeney Point, partly because it’s my favourite place in the World, partly because its a good bitesize challenge for the long walker, and partly because I wanted to see the storm damage from the recent surge. I started at Cley Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park, and sauntered curiously along the mud-strewn coast road up to the closed car park at Cley beach. Not only is it closed, it ain’t there!


So, off I bimbled, up the stony stony spit on the way to the point. The storm surge had ironed out a lot of the lumps and bumps in the point, and also packed the shingle tightly together, so in places it was genuinely nice to walk over. Regulars to Blakeney Point will not be used to this, it usually feels like you are wading through unset concrete while moving slowly and inexorably backwards. The whole Point seemed relatively unscathed by the storm, for which it has my sincere respect.

I made sprightly progress, zooming up the Point in bright sunshine, with my newly inherited Scarpa boots thanks to Sir Jonny of the Pacific. I soon started coming across white furry stinking blobs.


These increased in number, along with larger piles of heaving blubber I took to be bull and cow seals. In fact the Point itself was littered with them. Suckling, pooing, whoooing, shuffling, gurning. I needed to make my escape, so off I went, down the hardened beach like a bearded bat out of hell. I was impeded by piles of plant debris, including bits of pine tree, presumably from Holkham.


It seemed no time at all before I was back closer to civilisation, so feeling daisy fresh I thought I would walk round Cley to see more of the storm surge effects. A small mud cliff along Cley beach, lumps of reedbed lifted bodily on to the East Bank. Shingle ridges that were no longer ridges. Reedbed squashed flat by debris. All bad, but two weeks after the storm, there was a feeling of renewal and resilience I think, a feeling that for all the fury of the sea, my fave place had survived and was reborn once again. My walk was ace, and thanks to my training, there’s a lot more spring in those legs…

Keep on Running!

It’s been a while since I dropped a blog, so I thought I should give a quick update on my training! My training methods are slightly different to those of Jonny, Rob and Goodrix, in that I have been concentration on running rather than walking! The method in my madness is far reaching……….well…….basically my theory is running will get me fitter quicker……oh and I love running! Also the running will also serve me better for another Turtle Dove project I have ahead of me in 2014…..

So enough of the excuses…..here is a quick summary of my past 28 days of running efforts:

Keep on running!
Keep on running!

By my calculation that is basically twice around the world and four times up Everest!

More to come 🙂