One of the Malham peregrine falconsThe appalling weather this summer is blamed for a fall in numbers of visitors enjoying a view of Malham’s pair of peregrine falcons.

But more children came to see the raptors, which nest on the 80m-high limestone Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales. A special viewpoint, with telescopes, is set up each spring and continues through the summer to enable visitors to see the birds in close-up.

One of the Malham peregrine falcons

Carl Watts/RSPB

Ian Court, of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said visitor numbers were still encouraging, with more than 27,000 people using the Falcon Watch facility. 7,777 of those were children, more than double last year’s total.

The site was closed for a number of days because of flooding.

Mr Court said: “It’s great news for the peregrine population in the Dales that, once again, the birds have reared two chicks on this site, and it’s even better that so many people have come along to witness the event.

“The numbers are very encouraging because they suggest that people were braving all but the worst of the weather to go and see them.”

As well as the peregrines, visitors to Malham were able to see green woodpeckers, little owls, redstarts and cliff-nesting house martins.

David Hirst of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said: “It’s a special treat to see these fantastic birds in such a spectacular and awe-inspiring setting.

“Sadly, despite the obvious public interest in these record-breaking birds, away from well-watched sites such as Malham birds of prey such as peregrine falcons still face illegal persecution.  This is an unacceptable situation and the RSPB is calling for an end to illegal killing of birds of prey."

The RSPB is urging supporters to sign up for the campaign via its website