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First flight for Malham's 'Clint' and 'Gryke'

[Wednesday 05 July 2006]

FEDERER'S forehand is fast and Schumacher's car quite swift, but for sheer speed, neither can match a family of the world's fastest birds that are currently thrilling visitors to the Yorkshire Dales.

malham chicks
'Clint' and 'Gryke' take maiden flight
Photo: Carl Watts/RSPB

A pair of peregrine falcons - the world's fastest bird - have nested in a cave high up on the limestone cliff at Malham Cove.

Last month two chicks hatched out in the peregrines' nest and the two youngsters - nicknamed 'Clint' and 'Gryke' - have now successfully made their maiden flight.

The chicks were named for the limestone blocks and fissures of the Malhamdale landscape where their parents have nested.

Their every move is being watched by thousands of visitors, who are flocking to Malham to catch a glimpse of the spectacular birds from a viewpoint set up by the RSPB and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

The first photos of 'Clint' and 'Gryke' are now available - snapped by the RSPB's Carl Watts as the pair took a rest on top of Malham Cove.

David Hirst of the RSPB said: "We are delighted that the two chicks have successfully made their first flight.

"The nest site is fearsomely high on the cliffs of Malham Cove and it's always a heart-in mouth-moment when the chicks take their first faltering flight into space."

Ian Court, YDNPA Wildlife Conservation Officer, added: "It's great news that Malham's famous falcons are doing so well, particularly as there were no chicks hatched there last year.

I hope that the chicks will settle in the Dales and help boost the local population of these fabulous falcons

Ian Court - YDNPA Wildlife Conservation Officer

"I hope that the chicks will settle in the Dales and help boost the local population of these fabulous falcons."

With two hungry chicks to teach how to hunt, the two parents will continue thrilling visitors to Malham Cove with their flying displays.

To see the peregrines, visitors can just go along to the viewpoint at the foot of Malham Cove any time daily from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm and it's all free.

The project runs until the end of July and more information is available from the RSPB Northern England Regional office on 0191 233 4300.

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 - although more often than not they fail to make a kill

  • Peregrine numbers crashed in the 1960's due to the impact of pesticides. They have now increased in numbers, to about 1,300 breeding pairs in the UK - with 20 pairs of peregrines nesting in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

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