The Cumbrian Peregrine Story by Geoff Horne, RSPB Gold Medal Winner.


“What we were doing was just something worthwhile. You know, helping these birds to recover from the low – very low – ebb that they were in, in the fifties and early sixties.”

Today, the high fells and crags of Cumbria are a stronghold for the Peregrine Falcon in the UK, but this bird of prey was on the verge of extinction in Cumbria in the decades after the Second World War.

The Peregrine population crashed between the 1940s and 1970s following the introduction of pesticides such as DDT. Lethal doses of these chemicals built up in the adult birds, causing death or thinning of eggshells.

Following a UK ban on the use of these chemicals, there is once again a healthy population of Peregrine Falcons in the upland valleys of Cumbria. Geoff Horne played an integral part in their recovery. At one point towards the end of the  1980’s the density of peregrines throughout Cumbria exceeded any other European population. Today sadly numbers of peregrines in Cumbria are now being reduced, partly due to a shortage of food but also due to illegal persecution resulting from the destruction of many eyries, the illegal removal of eggs and young. The west coast of Cumbria continues to be a problem for the peregrine resulting from the actions of a small minority of pigeon fanciers who see the peregrine as threat to their own interests.

It is disappointing that in the 21st Century Cumbrian peregrine eyries continue to be robbed each year of eggs and chicks.

Find out more about Geoff on the Biographies page.

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