Competition winner, Alice, gets the VIP treatment at Pensthorpe

Alice Stavert-Dobson and her family visited Pensthorpe Wildlife & Gardens in August for a special VIP visit and a chance to see turtle doves for the first time. Six year old Alice won the Operation Turtle Dove competition to name the two turtle doves in our logo.  Alice, who is from Sheffield, named the doves Heart and Hope to represent love and her hope for a better future for these endangered farmland birds.

Alice (right) and her sister Thea

As well as her much-enjoyed Chocally chocolate, Alice’s prize was to come and see turtle doves at Pensthorpe where the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust team help with the Operation Turtle Dove research both with the preferred seed-mixes for their turtle dove flock and as a site for trial seed plots on their farm.

Our special guest Alice, her four year old sister Thea, mum Jo and dad Adrian were joined by Alison Woodward from the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, Alison Gardner from the RSPB and two volunteers Lex and Alice who have been manning the busy Operation Turtle Dove sightings hotline.  As we entered the large walk-through Wader Aviary at Pensthorpe we were instantly greeted by a posing turtle dove followed soon after by the evocative purring of several birds.  Alice could identify the ‘turr turr’ from her cuddly turtle dove’s call and she was delighted at the richness of the calls which at times filled the air around us.

To give the girls a lasting memory of the day they were presented with an adoption certificate for a pair of turtle doves at Pensthorpe – whose names could only be Heart and Hope. They were also each given a very special Operation Turtle Dove t-shirt so they can continue to help spread the word about this very special bird.

It is perhaps a testament to the power of the such a close encounter that when Alice was asked by her mum and dad what her favourite thing was about her day she answered simply “seeing real Turtle Doves.”