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Peregrine Watch chick takes its first flight

This is an archived press release

Friday 22 June 2012

Peregrine falcons have bred successfully again at one of the country’s most popular climbing crags, thanks to the co-operation of nature conservation organisations, local people and visitors.

The young Peregrine falcon took its first flight from the Roaches, the iconic gritstone edge near Leek in Staffordshire, owned by the Peak District National Park Authority.

Over the 12 weeks of Peregrine Watch, two full-time and  10 volunteer Peak District National Park Authority rangers , plus climbers, walkers, fell-runners, birdwatchers and local residents, have safeguarded the site in all weathers, from early morning to late at night, enabling over 4,300 visitors to enjoy seeing the birds without causing disturbance.

Volunteers from Staffordshire Wildlife Trust also took part, ahead of the Trust taking over the management of the Roaches Estate on a 125-year lease, from next year.

The National Park Authority, Natural England and the RSPB negotiated voluntary access restrictions with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). Signs were put up in agreement with user groups, asking people to avoid the nest site and behave considerately.

Peak District National Park Authority area ranger Andy McGraw said: “Co-operation from the general public, the BMC and climbers has been fantastic and kept disturbances to a minimum to give the birds the best chance of success.”

A group of volunteer rangers and visitors witnessed the parent birds teaching the youngster to fly and even saw it try to catch its first pigeon.

Andy said:  “Although the birds laid four eggs, only one chick survived. Heavy snow came a few days after the eggs were laid and they hatched during gale force winds and heavy rain.  Many peregrine nest sites throughout the country have failed this year, probably due to the bad weather.”

The weather was not the only thing the chick had to survive. Andy added: “One evening it was accidentally knocked off the nesting ledge by a jackdaw. After about three hours on the ground the chick scrambled to the safety of a lower ledge and found a better ledge the following day, where it stayed for a few days before flying.”

This marks the fifth successful year for peregrines on the Roaches estate. The first successful nest for 100 years was in 2008. In 2009 a single chick fledged, followed by three in 2010 and four chicks in 2011.

Peregrines are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act but are still comparatively rare. There are now believed to be around 25 pairs in the Peak District National Park and 1,400 pairs nationally.

This is an archived press release

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