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WATCH: Peregrines hatch at Malham Cove

WATCH: Peregrines hatch at Malham Cove

Published at 6:15pm 12th May 2017. (Updated at 6:19pm 12th May 2017)

At least three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched at Malham Cove - to the delight of thousands of people.

The chicks started to hatch on 1 May and it is believed that there could be more than three, but views are obscured by the female who is brooding her young tightly.

4,000 people have visited the bird watching viewpoint since it opened for the breeding season at the beginning of April.

Amateur wildlife photographer Andy Pritchard made a special journey from Lancashire to see them.

He said: "The male peregrine was hunting right in front of the nest site when I arrived at the top of the Cove at 16.30. It got me thinking something had happened.

"During the next four hours, I managed to get a good glimpse of the newly-hatched first junior. The shots I took are poor-quality, as they were taken from 100 yards away in bad light. But I was properly chuffed to get them, especially if they can be used to promote the welfare of these magnificent birds."

The viewpoint has been especially popular this year, as the breeding peregrines were the subject of Channel 5's A Year In The Wild documentary series.

Ian Court, Wildlife Conservation Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: "The female is doing a great job of brooding the chicks and the dry weather has had a positive impact. Peregrines tend to do badly in wet springs.

"Over the coming weeks, the male will continue to do most of the hunting, bringing prey to the site for the female to feed the chicks. It is an excellent time to come to the Cove to see them."

Paul Brady, from the RSPB, added: "It's fantastic news that the peregrines have successfully produced young ones again this year.

"The next few weeks are going to bring lots of exciting activity, as the parents catch food for their hungry chicks, so I'd highly recommend a trip up to the viewpoint to see these birds in action and to get the latest updates from the staff and volunteers."

The free public viewpoint is at the base of Malham Cove, where information assistants and a team of volunteers are on hand to show people the birds through telescopes.

It will be open from Saturday to Wednesday until Sunday 30 July.