An “enthralling” natural spectacle has attracted more than 16,500 visitors to a Yorkshire Dales beauty spot in a little over four months.
But it is all change at Malham Cove, where four closely-watched young peregrine falcons have now left their nests to establish territory of their own.
A pair of adult peregrines that settled into nests at the limestone cove this year successfully fledged a brood of four for only the second time since peregrines returned to the spot to breed in the early 1990s.
Thousands of visitors used a free public viewpoint to observe the birds’ comings and goings from the nest site as the young were fed.
Between the start of April and August 5, volunteers from the RSPB and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority contributed 151 full-time equivalent days to staff the viewpoint.
Ian Court, wildlife conservation officer at the National Park Authority, said: “It is great news that once again the peregrines have bred successfully at the Cove and managed to get four young away.
"Visitors have been enthralled to watch their story unfold and it has been great to see so many people enjoy watching this iconic bird.”
Anthony Hills, from the RSPB, added: “The name ‘peregrine’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘wanderer’ – and that is what the four young will be doing now.
"The birds aren’t tagged but we know peregrines can range far and wide. Eventually they’ll look to find a suitable rocky outcrop or tall building to nest.”
The viewpoint at the Cove was part of the Malham Peregrine Project, a partnership between the YDNPA and the RSPB, now in its 17th year.
Since the project started, more than 282,000 people have used the viewpoint to marvel at the birds.