ORNITHOLOGISTS in the area are 'thrilled' that a pair of peregrines have arrived at a traditional nest site near the Snake Pass, giving them hope that the bird of prey may breed there for the first time in seven years.
The location used to be the most important and productive peregrine breeding site in the Dark Peak; it was there that the charismatic raptor began its re-colonisation of the area in the late 1960s, following an absence of several decades.
Tim Melling, RSPB Senior Conservation Officer for Northern England, said: ”Peregrines have been resident at the site in some previous breeding seasons but none have managed to successfully produce any chicks there since 2007.
“This year we are really hoping for a change in their fortunes.
"The peregrines currently at the site are both healthy-looking adult birds so, biologically speaking, they have a strong chance of breeding success.
"We will be watching the birds very closely over the next few months and doing everything we can to ensure nobody interferes with them so they can raise some chicks.”
Tim Birch, Conservation Manager for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted that peregrines have returned once again to their traditional breeding site near the Snake Pass in North Derbyshire.
"They have failed here for too many years and we hope that they are able to breed successfully this year.
“We will be doing all we can to work with partners to ensure that these stunning birds are once more able to breed and thrive in this beautiful part of the Peak District National Park.
"We hope that people will be able to enjoy these birds when they are out walking in these uplands.”
The recent ongoing breeding failure at the nest site reflects a wider picture in the north of the Peak District.
There are 20 traditional nesting sites in the Dark Peak but last season, only three pairs of peregrines successfully raised any chicks.
A 2011 study revealed that breeding peregrines in England were far less successful on grouse moors compared with other suitable habitats. The report concluded that the only logical explanation for these differences was that persecution was widespread on many driven grouse moors.
The British Trust for Ornithology is currently undertaking a full survey of breeding peregrines to get a comprehensive picture of how the species is faring across the UK.
If anyone sees a peregrine in the Peak District it should be reported to Bird Track online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01842 750050.