VISITORS to the peregrine falcon nesting site high on Malham Cove have been thrilled this past week to see two chicks emerge from the nest.

A free public viewpoint at the base of the cove allows bird watchers to see the raptors and watch as the nesting pair rear its brood and in the past few days two chicks have made an appearance out of their nesting site.

The chicks are regularly pleasing onlookers by coming to the edge of a ledge high up on the face of the cove and away from the nest which was hidden away in a crevice.

The young birds are now over three weeks old and are beginning to explore the outside world.

The recent warm weather has been beneficial to the development of the chicks and the parents will benefit from an abundance of food nearby to boost their growth.

On Sunday members of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce team were among those checking out the birds. They joined Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) Wildlife Officer, Ian Court, for a routine walkabout.

The viewpoint is open from 10:30am to 4:30pm five days a week, from Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) until July 30.

Visitors who are interested in the peregrines can seek out RSPB and YDNPA staff or volunteers who are on hand to show people the birds through telescopes.

Mr Court said: “It is great that we have finally been able to see the youngsters for the first time.

“Over the next few weeks the adult birds will have their work cut out to feed their hungry family and we will be looking forward to seeing plenty of activity at the cove.

“We work closely with the police as we look to keep a close eye on the birds. While the birds are showing well we are encouraging visitors to help play their part in maintaining this as one of the most successful sites in the National Park by adhering to the on-site signage, and keeping out of the restricted area at the top of the cove.”

RSPB area manager Anthony Hills added: “We’re really excited to have had the first views of two fluffy peregrine chicks. They peeped out over the bank holiday weekend, delighting our visitors, and it will only be a few weeks until they are taking their first tentative flights.

“We hope lots of people come to the cove to see these lovely new additions and their busy parents who are keeping them well fed.”

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 measuring 38 to 48cms long with a wingspan of between 95 and 110 cms.

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 five or six 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.

Their 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.

The Malham Peregrine Project forms part of the RSPB’s ‘Date with Nature’ programme of events around the UK, which make rare and spectacular wildlife accessible for everyone to see. Dates with Nature give people the opportunity to get up close to all sorts of wildlife and enjoy impressive views of creatures they may never otherwise see. Most Dates with Nature take place away from RSPB reserves and are run thanks to partnerships with other organisations such as the YDNPA.

The nesting site has become well known throughout the country following TV coverage over the years, the most recent being last spring when they featured in l Yorkshire: A Year in the Wild, which was broadcast on Channel Five.

The latest information about the peregrines currently being reared at Malham Cove can be found at: and