Hillwalkers need to be aware that peregrine falcons are now nesting on some crags in the Gap of Dunloe, the Burren and other areas. Climbers should be mindful of this and avoid climbing at crags if there are any signs that birds are being distressed. Hikers should heed this recommendation even if it means turning away and going elsewhere. Evidence of disturbance would include birds reacting to your presence by circling, dive-bombing and screeching. Disturbance places stress on the falcons and disturbs their ability to incubate their eggs, and also to hunt and supply their chicks with food adequately. The peregrine can be recognised by its blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head.
Peregrine falcons are protected under European and national legislation, and are the fastest creature on the planet. They can dive at speeds of up to 320km/h to strike its prey. When not attacking, the peregrine flies with a series of short wing beats and alternating glides, tilting to show its pale under-feathers and broad pointed wings.
Peregrines prey on smaller birds such as duck or pigeon. Because of this have at times been subject to persecution.
Conservation & Protection
National Parks & Wildlife Service Conservation Rangers have responsibility for wildlife protection in the Republic of Ireland. They have acknowledged the valuable role that climbers can play in the conservation of this magnificent species. Hikers should help by keeping an eye on known nest sites and reporting deliberate disturbance or suspicious activity.
The Irish Raptor Study Group is doing a national survey of breeding peregrines this year. If you come across breeding peregrines please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details of the survey are available on the Irish Raptor Study Group Facebook page. Furthermore, there is an article regarding the survey and in the spring issue of the Irish Mountain Log.