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Encouraging year for peregrines in Peak District uplands - Peak District National Park Authority

The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative has published its 2020 final report, showing encouraging breeding successes for several bird of prey species in moorland areas of the Peak District, thanks to collaboration between landowners, gamekeepers and raptor workers during COVID-19.

The report brings together data on key birds of prey nesting within the Dark Peak and South West Peak - the moorland regions of the Peak District National Park.

Peregrine falcons had their best year in a decade, with all six known nesting attempts being successful, resulting in a record 14 fledged young. This was the first year, since the Initiative was launched in 2011, when all known nesting attempts have successfully fledged young, and is double the previous maximum of 3 successful nests.

Goshawks, which breed in woodlands on the moorland edge, also had a successful season, with 7 of the 9 known nests successfully fledging a total of 16-17 young, surpassing last year's 12 young from 8 nests. The last two years have seen a welcome increase in the number of goshawks successfully breeding in the Dark Peak.

Numbers of both species peaked in the area in the 1990s, and the Initiative has set a goal of restoring populations to those former levels.

Other species continue to give cause for concern. Merlin, a small falcon which is near the southern edge of its range on the Peak District moors, declined from a peak of 37 pairs in the 1990s to a stable population of 18-24 pairs throughout the 2010s. During 2019 there was a further drop to a low of 14 pairs, so a slight recovery to 16 pairs in 2020 was welcome. Those merlin that do breed are remarkably successful, with over 50 young fledged in 2020 suggesting that, for unknown reasons, young birds are failing to return to their Peak District breeding grounds.

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Posted On: 15/03/2021

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