They are Britain’s smallest bird of prey but there is some good news for the species with breeding of merlin increasing on grouse moors over the last 20 years.
The Moorland Association (MA) says the birds are breeding well on heather moorland managed by gamekeepers for wild red grouse, however the figures show the picture is not as rosy in other upland areas where the birds of prey are found. A recent independent study for the association found there were four times more breeding records for merlin on the managed landscapes than moorland without keepers.
Peak District head keeper, Fred Mitchinson has been working with licensed bird ringers and recording numbers for over twenty years and said the findings were very encouraging.
Breeding records appear to have doubled on grouse moors in the last 20 years - however the same figures revealed a fall of more than half in other upland areas.
Mr Mitchinson explained: “I take great pride in knowing I have had a direct impact on the success of these wonderful little falcons.