Have you seen this beautiful bird of prey in the skies above Dundalk and Louth?

Wildlife Ireland

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Have you seen this beautiful bird of prey in the skies above Dundalk and Louth?

Have you seen this beautiful bird of prey in the skies above Dundalk and Louth?

After years of decline, the peregrine falcon - a remarkable bird of prey - is returning to the skies of Ireland in healthy numbers once more, according to a new survey.

The bird - which is the fastest in the world - is found mostly in mountainous and coastal areas - such as the Cooley mountains - but can also be found more and more in towns. A favoured spot for the bird is at the tops of churches and cathedrals.

Over 400 breeding pairs have been recorded across the country as part of the survey. The survey involved the Irish Raptor Study Group and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, among many volunteers.

In the 1960s peregrine falcon numbers declined sharply, with many suggesting a pesticide used at the time was one of the major causes.

According to Bird Watch Ireland peregrine falcons are a "bird of prey (raptor) with a short hooked bill. (It is) a species of falcon with a heavy powerfully built body, medium length tail and wings which are broad close to the body and pointed at the tip.

"The female is larger than the male. Male and female plumages are the same, unlike Merlins, the species most likely to be confused with Peregrine. Adults are bluey grey above, with a barred tail; the underparts are white and finely barred, the check, throat and upper breast are plain white and contrast with a black hood and thick moustachal stripe. Juvenile birds are similar to adults but have brownish upperparts and streaked, not barred, feathers on the body."

Bird Watch Ireland also suggest the best place to spot them.

"Look for them on estuaries in the winter. If a flock of waders or wildfowl suddenly fly up, it maybe that a Peregrine has flushed them. If they are about they will often be perched on fences or other vantage points. Walking suitable cliffs in the breeding season may give dramatic views of Peregrines hunting.

So make sure to keep an eye on the sky for this wonderful bird of prey around Dundalk and north Louth.