THE peregrine viewing scheme at Malham Cove has welcomed its 200,000th visitor since it began in 2003.

Over the years, the project – a partnership between the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the RSPB – has shown people some of the spectacular wildlife in and around the Cove, at the same time raising awareness of the wildlife and nature conservation issues in the National Park.

Visitors to the Cove are able to see a range of upland bird species but it is the nesting peregrine falcons that are the star attraction.

Project staff and volunteers have been on hand with telescopes in all weathers to showcase the spectacular birds of prey as they raise their chicks and to highlight the work of the authority and RSPB.

With four young peregrines raised this season, it has been another hugely successful year.

Authority wildlife conservation officer Ian Court said: “It’s a huge achievement to reach this landmark figure and we are really pleased, especially as 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of the national park.

“The popularity of these birds has never waned. As well as first-time visitors, many people have made several visits to the Cove during the season and come back year after year to keep track of their progress. And the figure includes more than 35,000 children who have stopped to see a Peregrine – many for the first time.”

Kate Struthers, RSPB Yorkshire people engagement officer, said: “It’s fantastic that there have been 200,000 visitors to the Malham viewpoint. The birds have had an incredible year and provide such a spectacle, with food passes and aerial displays really adding to the visitor experience that keeps bringing people back."

The 200,000-mark was hit with a visit by John and Lindsey Eccles from Aberdeenshire and their children Cameron, Michael and Andrew, who walked away with a number of gifts

“We’ve had a fantastic day out in the national park and then to come to the viewpoint and see the peregrines and get a gift is the icing on the cake,” John said.

The viewpoint will be open from Saturday to Wednesday until August 3.

As well as the peregrines, Green Woodpeckers and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are frequent visitors along with House Martins, Redstarts, Swallows and Little Owls.