A viewpoint will open at Malham Cove on Friday next week for people to watch the world’s fastest animal, the peregrine falcon, up close.
The opening will mark the start of the 17th year of the Malham Peregrine Project, a partnership between the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and the RSPB.
The free public viewpoint is at the base of the Cove, where Information Assistants and a team of volunteers will be on hand to show people the birds through telescopes.
It will be open from 10:30 to 16:30 five days a week, from Thursday to Monday (closed Tues and Weds), from Fri 5th April until Mon 5th August.
A new dedicated Malham Peregrine Project Facebook group has been set up for the sharing of up-to-date news during the season. Anyone wishing to join can visit the Nature in the Dales Facebook page.
RSPB Area Manager Anthony Hills said: ““We’re excited for another season at Malham Cove. As the fastest animal on the planet, the peregrines are incredible to watch. Each year there is something new to discover about these special birds and it is like a soap opera watching them raise their family on the Cove face. And it’s not just the peregrines either, we get regular views of other wonderful wildlife such as green woodpeckers, redstarts, wheatears and kestrels.”
YDNPA’s Wildlife Conservation Officer Ian Court added: “It is great that we are approaching the start of another Malham Peregrine Project season at Malham Cove. The staff and volunteers are all set to watch the story of the Malham peregrines unfold over the next few months, and look forward to welcoming visitors to the site. The viewpoint offers some spectacular opportunities of seeing peregrine falcons against the majestic back drop of Malham Cove.”
Follow the project on Twitter for regular updates: www.twitter.com/malhamperegrine
Information can also be found on the Park Authority website.
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 61 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.