PEREGRINE falcons are nesting in the ancient ruins of Corfe Castle for the first time since the 1980s – and experts believe we have the lockdown to thank.

Eight weeks after the National Trust closed the historic site to restrict the spread of the coronavirus, it has been reported that wildlife has taken full advantage of the unusually empty attraction.

David Brown, National Trust ecologist at Corfe Castle, said: "With the site the quietest it has ever been, the great curtain walls are an ideal spot for these powerful birds, which look for isolated and inaccessible places to build a nest.

"Amongst all the uncertainty it has been heartening to see nature colonising the landscape in our absence."

The peregrine is the fastest bird – and the fastest animal – on the planet.

It can reach speeds of more than 200mph while making its high speed hunting dive, which is faster than the take off speed of a typical passenger jet and in the same ballpark as the top speed of a Porsche 911 Turbo S sports car – the fastest road legal 911 ever produced.

It can also reach horizontal cruising speeds of up to 56mph.

Purbeck National Trust engagement officer Tom Clarke said: "We think it is likely they are attempting to breed because the castle isn’t being visited.

"We know that peregrines are doing well locally, so it could be a young pair looking for a suitable nesting site, and happened across this quiet castle.

"It’s been a lovely piece of news to share within the team and village, at a time when everything seems so bleak."

Currently the castle remains closed to the public.

Tom said: "We’re going to reopen the castle when Government guidelines enable us to do so, and if the nest is still active we’ll ensure visitors keep an appropriate distance from the birds as well as each other."

Also, 27 Soay sheep have been introduced to the castle's grounds to keep the scrub down.

The new arrivals were chosen for their nimbleness on the slopes of the ruins and have the added benefit of eating and trampling bramble and ivy which could damage the ancient masonry if allowed to thrive.