Birds of prey show signs of revival in the Peaks

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This hen harrier was spotted in the Peak District in May 2014 © David Simmonite

This hen harrier was spotted in the Peak District in May 2014

Latest update 06.08.2014 12:09

Your chances of spotting one of the UK’s most iconic birds of prey – the Peregrine Falcon – in the Peak District are on the rise thanks to conservation efforts to protect the birds involving monitoring and protecting their nest sites.

The north east Peak District welcomed the return of peregrines in June 2014 having been a black spot for peregrines (and birds of prey in general) for many years. A pair nested at Alport Castles, a breeding site that had been unsuccessful for several years, and two chicks hatched and fledged.

Successful conservation

It’s an early sign of success for the Peak District Birds of Prey Initiative which we joined alongside Natural England, the RSPB, the Peak District National Park Authority and the Moorland Association. The initiative has worked closely with the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derbyshire Constabulary.

Under the initiative a core team of monitoring volunteers has contributed invaluable experience, expertise, time and equipment to monitor and protect peregrine nest sites, resulting in the successful breeding in June.

‘We’re thrilled that the peregrines have returned to their traditional nesting site near to the Snake Pass,’ said Tim Birch, Conservation Manager for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. ‘We really hope that they come back safely next year and that this site and other traditional breeding sites are occupied in the coming years.’

Hope for hen harriers

It’s hoped the reviving fortunes of peregrines could be repeated with hen harriers as work to protect birds of prey in the Peaks continues. Hen harriers have been at serious threat in England for more than 60 years with numbers plummeting primarily due to illegal persecution.

Just two breeding pairs of hen harriers were reported in the country in 2013 and for the first time in 50 years no young fledged. But there have been sightings in 2014 – two males were seen giving sky-dancing displays during the nesting season on moorland we look after and at least one female was spotted in the area.

Working in partnership

Although we haven’t yet seen the outcome we’re hoping for with hen harriers we’re committed to increasing birds of prey on land we care for in the Peak District. It’s all part of our High Peak Moors Vision and Plan and we’re working with our tenants and those that make a living from the land, including the shooting communities, to help manage this area.

‘The activity of the peregrines in the Dark Peak is brilliant news,’ said Jon Stewart, our General Manager for the Peak District. ‘We’re fully committed to improving the situation for birds of prey and are only able to do so through the combined efforts of all the partners working together with a clear common goal.’

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