The castle has been a hotel for 20 years. I don't know when the doves were introduced or when the dovecote was erected, but imagine they have been there for some while, as there were a fair number of them and they all seemed mightily at home! They do use the dovecote
But also shelter and nest in the nooks and crannies of the old castle walls. You can just see one peeking out in the photo below.
Some of these holes were the places were the original beams slotted in, see below, and make ideal nesting sites for doves. I put my arm in a lower one at the front of the castle and it went in to the elbow - that's plenty of room to make a good nest! I didn't see any squabs but knew they were somewhere around as I could hear their high-pitched squeaking.
At night, the old stone wall was studded with white pom poms, and they looked so endearing, but I just couldn't get a good photo. If you click on the picture, it should enlarge and you can see three doves in the rounded wall (turret) at the side of the portcullis.The gardens were beautiful and, for me, the pure white doves, cooing gently and fluttering about added to the loveliness. As did the white peacock
I spoke to the lady gardener who, with one other, looks after the gardens entirely alone. She said that they feed the peacock (and the peahen who was currently kept penned up as she keeps escaping) but do not feed the doves. The doves rob a bit of food from the peafowl but otherwise find their food in the nearby fields. I wondered how they got on when we had all that snow - there wouldn't have been much natural food around then! But I suppose it keeps the numbers down, as does the sparrowhawk which the gardener said was also around.Doves on the battlements
And on the window above the portcullis
They have a truly delightful home! This was taken early in the morning before the hotel guests were around.
The end. (double clicking should enlarge the photos)