Two more peregrine chicks in 2007
Preparing to fly the nest
A FAMILY of peregrine falcons has once again proved to be a real crowd-puller in the Yorkshire Dales.
Thousands of people took advantage of a special, free Falcon Watch viewpoint set up by the RSPB and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) at Malham Cove during the summer to watch the birds through powerful telescopes.
And the numbers would have been higher but for the terrible weather, according to Ian Court, the YDNPA's species officer.
He said the viewpoint, normally open every day from 2 April to 5 August, had to be closed for a number of days because of flooding caused by the torrential rain.
But peregrines and the two offspring they hatched during the summer still attracted 27,130 visitors, of which 7,777 were children.
"It's great news for the peregrine population in the Dales that, once again, the birds have reared two chicks on this site - and it's even better that so many people have come along to witness the event," he said.
"The numbers are very encouraging because they suggest that people were braving all but the worst of the weather to go and see them."
The viewpoint, manned by a team of RSPB and National Park staff and volunteers, is part of the RSPB's aren't Birds Brilliant! Programme of events, which aims to make rare and spectacular birds accessible for everyone to see. As well as the peregrines, visitors to Malham were able to see green woodpeckers, little owls, redstarts and cliff-nesting house martins.
away from well-watched sites...birds of prey such as peregrine falcons still face illegal persecution
David Hirst - RSPB
David Hirst of the RSPB said: "We are delighted by the success of this project and the interest from local people and visitors to the Dales.
"Sadly, despite the obvious public interest in these record-breaking birds, away from well-watched sites such as Malham, birds of prey such as peregrine falcons still face illegal persecution. This is an unacceptable situation and the RSPB is calling for an end to illegal killing of birds of prey."
The birds continue to be killed, despite the fact that they are fully protected by law and have been for decades.
The RSPB is asking members of the public who care about our birds of prey, such as the Malham peregrines, to pledge their support for an end to illegal killing at www.rspb.org.uk/birdsofprey