Visitors to Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales National Park will once again be able to watch peregrine falcons in action in their natural surroundings. A pair of the birds has returned to the stunning Cove to nest – and to become one of the main attractions during the summer. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and the RSPB have again teamed up to run a special free peregrine watch viewpoint from 21 April until 31 July that will enable people to watch the birds through high-powered telescopes. The watch site will be manned by YDNPA and RSPB staff and volunteers between 10.30am and 4.30pm from Wednesdays to Sundays inclusive (weather permitting). Peregrines are the fastest animals in the world and have been recorded at speeds over 200 miles an hour, approximately three times as fast as a cheetah.
Ian Court, the YDNPA’s Wildlife Conservation Officer, said: “Peregrines started nesting at the Cove 18 years ago and since then they have raised 37 young. It’s difficult to identify a bird individually so we don’t know whether it’s the same pair as last year. But we’re hoping that this year will be another successful season and that, once again, they will manage to produce some chicks. The peregrines aren’t the only attraction at the Cove for bird watchers – there are green woodpeckers, cliff-nesting house martins and little owls as well as redstarts and swifts, which are arriving for the summer.”
Visitors are being asked to play their part in helping this year's nesting attempt by not getting too close to the nest site. The British Mountaineering Council has once again agreed to impose temporary rock climbing restrictions around the nesting site to avoid disturbing the peregrines, and an area at the top of the cliff has been sealed off. PC Mark Rasbeary, Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer at North Yorkshire Police, said, “It is an offence to disturb Peregrines at, or near, a nest so we are asking people not to risk getting too close to the birds and to stay out of the roped off area at the top of the Cove.”
The project is run in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority as part of the RSPB’s Date with Nature programme of events, which makes rare and spectacular birds accessible for everyone to see. More information about the Malham Peregrines can be found at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/peregrines and they will be featured on the National Park Authority’s Twitter page using the #malhamperegrines and the RSBP’s Facebook pages.
Peregrine falcon fact file
The peregrine is the largest of British breeding falcons. It is 38-48 cm long and its wingspan is 95-110 cm; the female is considerably larger than the male. The upper parts are dark blue-grey and the under parts are pale with fine, dark bars. The head has a black ‘hood’ with black moustache-like markings on the face. Juvenile birds are browner and heavily streaked below.
Peregrines typically pair for several years and may live up to 10 years old; the oldest on record was 15 years and 6 months old.
Both adult birds tend the young, which take their first flight after 5 or 6 weeks.
Peregrines feed on medium-sized birds, which they catch in high-speed aerial stoops; more often than not they fail to make a kill.