Latin name: Falco peregrinus
An incredibly efficient hunter, the peregrine falcon is renowned for being one of the fastest flying birds recorded, reaching speeds of 217 miles per hour. It reaches these incredible speeds when hunting its prey and will circle above medium-sized birds before diving down to knock the unsuspecting prey to the ground.
The peregrine’s favoured nesting sites include the cliff edges where it can nest using virtually no nesting material. Although it is not possible to publicise most of the nesting sites, Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales provides the perfect environment for the peregrine falcon. A viewing scheme is run by the RSPB and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority during the breeding season as part of the RSPB’s ‘Aren’t Birds Brilliant’ project. Wardens are on hand with binoculars and telescopes to show visitors the peregrines and other wildlife in and around Malham Cove from early April until late June. The dramatic limestone cliffs of Malham Cove provide the ideal environment for peregrines and many other birds.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, peregrines suffered a series of population declines. At one time they disappeared completely as a breeding species in the Yorkshire area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park with just one or two pairs present in the Cumbrian part of the Park. The first pair to return to Yorkshire nested in 1978 and there are now around 20 sites where peregrines have been known to nest within the National Park.