WILDLIFE experts ringed rare peregrine falcon chicks yesterday amid fears that poor weather and poaching have taken their toll.
Ornithologists working in Kielder Forest’s 155,000 acres are monitoring 11 nests in Northumberland’s most remote corner.
Numbers were so low in the 1990s that nests were kept under 24-hour protection. While things are better now, conservationists are worried that last month’s storms have killed chicks.
Gales and lashing rain made it almost impossible for adults to hunt for food and some newly-hatched peregrine chicks perished.
Martin Davison, Forestry Commission ornithologist, said: “The bad weather couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“Young chicks have no body fat reserves and so need feeding soon after birth. One of the peregrine nests I’m monitoring has been reduced from three chicks to just one.”
There were also fears that nest raiding was back on the increase.