Peregrine falcons are the fastest creature on the planet. Although never numerous, they can be seen almost anywhere where there are suitable cliffs and crags for nesting. The females are 20% larger than the males, with a wingspan of up to 120cm. They famously dive (or stoop) at their prey, mainly pigeons and other birds, from a great height, attaining speeds of up to 300kmh.
Having recovered from virtual extinction thanks to poisoning in the early part of the 20th century, numbers have increased in recent years, though sadly they are still persecuted in some places. They are doing particularly well in cities now, finding the edges of cathedrals, art galleys and tower blocks to be good alternatives to cliffs and crags. In the Lakes, rock climbing routes are sometimes temporarily closed to ensure peregrines can successfully rear their young.
Pied flycatchers & redstarts
In the mossy, fern filled, oak woodlands around the edge of Ullswater, pied flycatchers and redstarts appear in spring, having made the epic journey from West Africa. These beautiful birds seek out holes in trees to rear their young and they seem to have a particular fondness for the damp conditions found in the ancient woodlands of Cumbria. The pied flycatcher is on the red list of conservation concern, having suffered from a steady reduction in the type of mature woodland that they need over the last few centuries. They are still reasonably easy to see in the right places though. Try Hallinhag wood on the South-East shore of Ullswater, or Naddle Forest near Haweswater between May and July.