Today we have received a photo through of the first Merlin nest seen this year, hopefully this will be the first of many. The Merlin is the smallest U.K. Bird of Prey and there are only 900 to 1500 breeding pairs in the whole of the U.K. Because of the small numbers of these birds they are a classed as a Red Listed Species (Highest Conservation Priority).
The estates are working closely with other organisations to protect and monitor Merlin numbers. Due to the Merlins being Red Status, anyone who visits their nests do so under a strict licence given by Natural England, this is to try and keep disturbance to an absolute minimum. The nests are normally visited once to confirm the chicks are there and then a later visit to ring the chicks. As Merlins are an endangered species it is essential to try and gather as much information about them as possible.
Years of study and careful management by the moor owners and their keepers makes the North York Moors an extremely important place for the Merlins to live, and this is a real positive for the area as the numbers here are now very stable.