Picture Post: Limestone cove which is a magnet for wildlife

The summer crowds have gone, but as winter arrives at Malham Cove sheep continue to graze on Yorkshire’s iconic limestone landmark.

PIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson

However, even with their bright yellow and blue markings these Swaledale sheep can’t compete with the area’s
star attraction – peregrine falcons.

With their enormous wingspan, they are one of the most impressive birds of prey in the country and they have been nesting in this corner of the county since 1993.

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As the peregrine falcon population became established around Malham, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority decided to set up a viewing scheme close to the famous limestone pavement

Set up to show the spectacular wildlife in and around the Cove, it also raises awareness of conservation issues and visitors can see a range of upland bird species alongside the nesting peregrine falcons. The beauty spot had attracted walkers for centuries, but the viewing scheme has been a big success and earlier this year it welcomed its 200,000 visitor.

Authority wildlife conservation officer Ian Court said: “It’s a huge achievement to reach this landmark figure and we are really pleased, especially as 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of the National Park.

“The popularity of these birds has never waned. As well as first-time visitors, many people have made several visits to the Cove during the season and come back year after year to keep track of their progress. And the figure includes more than 35,000 children who have stopped to see a peregrine – many for the first time.”

This year another four young chicks were raised in Malham and the viewing season takes place from April to August.

An RSPB spokesman said: “When the peregrines are hunting and feeding, it’s a great time for people to visit the site. Peregrines started nesting at the cove 20 years ago and since then they have raised more than 40 young.”

Technical details: Nikon D3s, 12-24mm lens, 400th @ f11, 200ISO