THREE peregrine falcon chicks have been reared by a nesting pair of the rare birds of prey at Corfe Castle.

In May, this year, the Echo reported that peregrine falcons were nesting in the ancient ruins of the National Trust-managed castle – for the first time since the 1980s.

Experts believed it was the pandemic lockdown that led to the nesting pair taking up residence.

Indeed, at that time it had been eight weeks after the site had shut, and wildlife appeared to have taken full advantage.

Now, the three chicks takes the total of peregrine chicks discovered at National Trusts sites this year to 11.

Tom Clarke, nature engagement officer for the Nation al Trust, said: "Despite the peregrines having up to 700 visitors walking past each day after we reopened, the youngsters are doing well and are starting to fledge.

"The peregrines moving in just as we went into lockdown was perfect timing. It gave them a quiet castle to make a nest and lay their eggs.

"By the time we opened the eggs had hatched and the parents were very unlikely to abandon their nest.

"They’ve wowed our visitors for the past six weeks and are now starting to leave the nest.

"Visitors are currently able to see the parents luring their offspring into the big wide world by offering prey that they’ve captured.

"We’ll never know if the pair of birds would have moved in without lockdown, but we are hoping that this pair will come back next year having discovered an amazing site and learnt to tolerate people being below their nest.”

Corfe Castle reopened to the public, with social distancing guidelines in place, last month.

The peregrine pair built their nest 70 feet up on the Keep walls of the 12th century castle.

Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals in the world. Adults hunting prey while stooping – a high speed dive – can reach speeds of more than 200mph.