Written by by Monica Plante
Monica Plante is a regular contributor to CNN.com
When I was growing up in a small fishing village on the shores of Whitby Bay, I always thought of wild turkeys in the autumn as being far beyond our centuries-old reach.
Only the odd hawksbill turtle might be seen around the bay, and always looking in the wrong direction, and I’m sure there were fewer than a dozen Sussex blue butterflies in the entire village.
But now I live near the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a beautiful land of wildlife and views that has become home to a much bigger flock of wild turkeys than we could ever have imagined.
Not the fluffy white turkeys I imagined when growing up, but jacksides and turkeys looking like normal everyday turkeys.
They are perfect predators: big, and lying on the ground and with their short tails grazing undisturbed. They enjoy looking out at the larger wildlife in the field and take in all the lovely views too.
But in Whitby, wild turkeys are almost daily visitors to the UK meadows around the park. Up and down the tracks in the field up ahead of the main road you can hear them making their way by the creeks and rivers — their songs delightful in autumn. And their beaks definitely standing out and looking sharp: mightier than ever!
But it is autumn and the calm is still quite uncertain, so you have to go looking for the wild turkeys to make sure you can be them for your fall in Whitby.
While some people say you will see them up in the oaks by the river in the main road, it can be a bit too busy and noisy in the autumn to walk across the country lane in the middle of the road to get to the birch. Instead, I take a sort of side street just past the dairy or the shoe shop. The roadside seems to disappear.
It’s a lovely little path by the river until the road rises again. The path comes to a halt by a ridge as you make your way across the falling moor. There is still a happy, peaceful silence about Whitby, and turkeys are crossing the road to see the moors.
There’s a bit of scrambling, but you’re kept up to speed for most of the way. Most importantly, and unlike many places I know and love (London, especially), this autumn I can see turkeys in Whitby all the time, unlike in Northern England where the birds (but not the bagpipes) seem to come and go at random.
It’s around this time of year when we often see the most beautiful leaf changing, but it’s natural, and wild turkeys in Yorkshire are perfect accompaniments. Wild turkeys can move here and there on the banks of the river and the fields, never really stopping. If you keep moving then you are assured of seeing them.
And at around 10 o’clock when they’re heading home, they’ll finish in the forest along the banks of the river, usually heading towards the lesser part of the cloudwort bed which is the best option to stay in after the tour.
So for a lovely autumn and a beautiful fall, I’d strongly suggest you keep moving and never ever see the turkeys, even if it’s somewhere as quiet as the roadside road.