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Page last updated at 09:18 GMT, Sunday, 11 July 2010 10:18 UK
Avon Gorge home to five new peregrine falcon chicks

Peregrine falcon
The Avon Gorge peregrine falcons have successfully fledged 54 chicks

The newest residents of Bristol's Avon Gorge are taking to the skies to explore their new surroundings.

Five peregrine falcon chicks have recently fledged from their cliff-side nest and can be seen swooping through the air above the gorge and the Downs, as they perfect their aerial skills.

This year is the 20th anniversary of peregrine falcons breeding in the gorge.

Experts say now is the best time to view the birds as they can be seen screeching and wheeling through the air.

Ben Garrod at Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project said: "Having peregrine falcons right here on the edge of the Downs is great.

"They're noisy, boisterous and inquisitive but they're also majestic, agile and above all beautiful - we're so lucky to

Peregrine falcon gliding through the air
The peregrine falcon is a highly protected species

have our own peregrines in Bristol."

Local peregrine expert Ed Drewitt ringed the five chicks, under licence from Natural England, before they fledged.

Ringing the birds allows experts to identify them, whilst checking and tracking their movements - they can also record their survival rates, breeding and life expectancy.

The best place to view the birds is from the Peregrine Watch Point on the Downs.

The peregrine falcon is a highly protected species and is safeguarded by various national and international laws.

Numbers of the birds dropped in the 1950s and 1960s because of pesticides and persecution.

Now, their numbers have increased to around 13,000 breeding pairs in the UK.

In the twenty years since 1990, the Avon Gorge peregrine falcons have successfully fledged 54 chicks.

You can find out more about the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project's events programme, call 0117 903 0609 or visit the project website.

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