1:00pm Monday 24th March 2014 in News
Britiain’s smallest bird of prey the merlin is thriving in E Lancs
EAST Lancashire’s grouse moors are helping to keep the threat to Britain’s smallest birds of prey at bay.
Merlins are flying in to nest on heather moorland managed by gamekeepers for wild red grouse like those in the Trough of Bowland.
A new study for the Moorland Association (MA) has found dramatic gains in merlin populations on such land.
There are only around 900 to 1,500 breeding pairs of merlin in the UK but experts say the tiny birds of prey are recovering from a population crash in the 20th Century.
This latest study assessed the distribution of breeding merlin in England and found 78 per cent of records were on protected and conserved iconic heather landscapes kept for red grouse.