A man from East Morton near Keighley became the quarter of a millionth visitor to the peregrine falcon public viewpoint
A man from East Morton near Keighley became the quarter of a millionth visitor to the peregrine falcon public viewpoint at Malham Cove on Friday 4 May.
Jamie Brown, 25, came to the viewpoint just as the male peregrine swooped from a cliff ledge to fly at speed above the heads of onlookers.
He received a framed photo of a Cove peregrine, signed by the photographer Dave Dimmock.
The Malham Peregrine Project is a partnership between the RSPB and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and is now in its 16th year.
Mr Brown, who was on a visit home to see his parents, said he’d loved seeing the peregrine: “It was great to see him through the telescopes up on the ledge – and amazing when he flew above our heads. I love coming home to see the Dales and get the fresh air – the nearest I get to wildlife now is at Richmond Park [in south London].”
The peregrines’ nest site is high up on the Cove. Unlike last year, the nest is well into a crevice, rather than close to the edge, so it is difficult to get sight of it. However, it is now known that this year’s chicks have hatched, because the adult male was today seen taking food into the nest for the first time.
YDNPA Wildlife Officer, Ian Court, said: “Thank you to Jamie for posing for photos. He realised what a big moment it was for the Malham Peregrine Project to receive its 250,000th visitor. The peregrines at Malham have been huge for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, both from the point of view of enthusing people about wildlife and drawing people in to the benefit of the local economy. I’ve had children jumping up and down with excitement after seeing a peregrine for the first time.”
The free public viewpoint, at the base of the Cove, is open from 10:30 to 16:30 five days a week, from Thursday to Monday (closed Tues and Wed) until 30 July. RSPB and YDNPA staff or volunteers are on hand to show people the birds through telescopes.
RSPB Area Manager Anthony Hills said: “We are delighted to have welcomed quarter of a million visitors to the Malham Peregrine Project. It’s no surprise that these incredible birds are popular with both locals and tourists alike. Sadly, peregrines still suffer from human persecution throughout Northern England and projects like this one highlight just how passionate the public are about this special species. We can’t wait to welcome many more visitors here to see the fastest animal on the planet.”
There will be a weekly update on the Malham peregrines throughout the season on the Nature in the Dales Facebook page: www.facebook.com/natureinthedales/
Follow the project on Twitter for regular updates: www.twitter.com/malhamperegrine
Information can also be found on the Park Authority website: www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/visit-the-dales/things-to-see-and-do/what-to-do-to-enjoy-wildlife/peregrine-falcons-at-malham-cove
MALHAM PEREGRINE FALCON FACT FILE
•Malham Cove is one of the most successful peregrine nest sites in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with at least 59 young raised since a pair first nested in 1993.
•The peregrine is the largest British breeding falcon. 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 known wild peregrine was 17 years.
•Both adult birds tend the young, which take their first flight after 5 or 6 weeks
•Peregrines feed on medium sized birds, predominately pigeons, which they catch in high-speed aerial stoops – although more often than not they fail to make a kill.
•When they go into their famous aerial stoop, peregrines have been recorded reaching speeds over 200 miles an hour, making them the fastest animal on the planet.
•Peregrine numbers crashed in the 1960s due to the impact of pesticides and they have historically been persecuted by humans. Due to the ban on the use of certain pesticides and better legal protection, peregrines have now increased in numbers, to about 1,300 breeding pairs in the UK, although they do still suffer from persecution in parts of the country.