The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative has published its 2019 breeding season report.
The report brings together data on key birds of prey or ‘raptors’ nesting within the Dark Peak - a largely upland region of the Peak District National Park.
Results from the 2019 season include the fledging of goshawks from all eight nests monitored within the study area, along with the return of hen harriers once again to a nest in the Peak District.
This news was tempered by the death of one of the two young hen harriers a few days after fledging, from what are thought to be natural causes. The second youngster and both adults were also not seen again from about the same time.
Of particular note was that two of the eight successful goshawk nests monitored saw the first confirmed fledging following around two decades of failed attempts in the same locations, with co-operation on the ground between raptor groups and gamekeepers supporting the successful results.
Cases of reported wildlife crime activity against raptors in the study area also dropped from several incidents in 2018, to one suspected buzzard poisoning case plus one suspected theft of young from a peregrine nest in 2019. One further peregrine nest was deserted for unexplained reasons following egg-laying.
Challenges remain for the peregrine in the study area. There were just five confirmed nesting attempts, with seven chicks fledged from three successful nests.
Whilst 11 merlin nests achieved 41 fledged young, well above target and high enough to encourage an increase in the population, the number of breeding pairs remains unstable and saw an overall drop of a third on year-on-year averages since 2012, with both unsuccessful nests and vacant territories recorded. The reasons for these declines remain unclear, but are in line with wider UK trends.
You can view the full report here: Bird of Prey Initiative 2019 report