Rise in number of birds of prey fledglings on Peak District moorlands

A successful year of breeding by birds of prey on the Peak District moorlands is an encouraging sign for the future, says the National Park’s chief officer.
Peregrine fledgling numbers have doubled on the Peak District moorlands this year.Peregrine fledgling numbers have doubled on the Peak District moorlands this year.
Peregrine fledgling numbers have doubled on the Peak District moorlands this year.

Peregrine falcons had their best year in a decade, with six known nesting attempts reported. All were successful, resulting in 14 fledged young - double last year’s figure. This was also the first year when all known nesting attempts have successfully fledged young and compares to a maximum of three successful nests per year over the last eight years.

Goshawk had seven successful nests recorded from nine nesting attempts, with 16-17 young believed to have fledged, surpassing last year’s 12 young from eight nests.

Merlin also showed improvement from 11 nests and 41 fledged last year to 15 known successfully fledged nests this year with an estimated 50+ young, slightly higher than the previous eight-year average.

The successes were recorded by the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative (BOPI) In its 2020 interim report.

Set up nine years ago to tackle illegal persecution of birds of prey and restore populations to sustainable levels, the initiative is a collaboration of the Moorland Association, Peak District National Park Authority, Natural England, National Trust, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and local police forces. Raptor groups and land managers support its aims.

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, said: “On the whole, it has been a positive year of progress and collaboration which saw both peregrine falcon nests and numbers of fledged young double from 2019 numbers within the Initiative study area of the Dark Peak uplands. The increase in nesting success by peregrine, goshawk and merlin is an encouraging sign for the future.

“Several incidents of bird of prey poisoning, egg and chick theft and shooting across the Peak District National Park this year are currently under police investigation. Gamekeepers in the Dark Peak were also involved in successfully intervening with an alleged egg thief - police said local gamekeepers had contributed greatly to the intelligence, which ultimately led to the seizure of the eggs (including peregrine) and the arrest of the individual. Protecting peregrines from a potential theft threat was a target of the project for this year.”