Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Calling all teachers!

Last year Ian Layton, our HLF-funded People and Peregrines Engagement Officer, with the help of a small group of dedicated teachers, prepared a number of Peregrine Resource Boxes for use by schools in the county and city.
These boxes contain a whole host of things to help you use these magnificent birds, the web cams and the blog in your curricular work. And they are entirely FREE to loan!
Contents of a resources box displayed
If your school is one run by Derbyshire County Council, then Georgina Greaves at the council is the person to contact if you want to loan a box. Boxes are delivered to your school via the normal channels. Georgina can be contacted by email at environmentalstudies@derbyshire.gov.uk or on 01629 533439.
An imaginative menu for a peregrine!

Four red eggs drawn by a child at an infant school.....
If your school is in Derby City, please contact peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk and we will arrange for you to have the single box that serves the city.
Nick B (DWT)
Ps. Ian will be starting work with us again within the next few weeks. Hurrah!! We also plan to put some of these school resources online, too, for anyone to use.


Sunday, 15 February 2015


As the nesting season approaches, we once again see typical courtship behaviour on the peregrine falcons' nest platform. Thanks to an anonymous commenter, who very helpfully left a note to say they had observed interesting behaviour at 13.55 on 12/2/2015, we were able to retrieve from our camera the short video clip below. This is quite typical of their courtship routine, and suggests we are yet again on track for a successful nesting season.

The second clip was captured just 20 minutes after sunrise on 17th February 2015. The much larger female is in the nest scrape on the right hand side, although this wide-angle perspective does make any object not immedately under the lens look so much smaller than it really is.

Please leave a comment on this blog if you observe activity worthy of sharing. Date and exact time are really important to help us retrieve the relevant video clip.

PS:. And a big welcome to any newcomers to this blog and to the web cams, especially if you were at the talk in Loughborough last Friday (attended by over 100 folk). The smudge on the camera lens will be cleaned off by Nick Moyes when he abseils down to the nest to clean it up and check and clean the cameras, sometime in the next 2-3 weeks.
Pps. Nick has put over 50 video clips on You Tube since he set up the cameras in 2007. They show all aspects of the peregrines' lives including bringing prey back, courtship (as above), egg laying, hatching etc.
To find them, use the QuickLink at the right side of our homepage. Or  put VC57UK into a search once you are on YouTube. If you want one topic, such as egg laying, the put 'Derby peregrines egg laying' into the search box.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Scraping into February

Over the last few weeks we've been seeing our adult peregrines spending more time together, and certainly more time nearer to their nest site half way up the tower of Derby Cathedral.

A view of Jury's Inn from the traffic lights by
Queen Street in Derby. 
On many occasions in recent days I've had to stop at traffic lights by Queen Street on Derby's inner ring road. There it's possible (if not driving!)  to look up and see either one or both peregrine falcons atop the huge blue 'Jury's Inn' lettering advertising the hotel's name. From there the birds have a clear view of their nest site, as well as the ability to bask in the warm sunshine from the south.

With courtship displays and heightened nest activity nearly upon us, the Project Team have turn on 'movement detection' on our wide angle nest camera. This can be set to look at different areas of the field of view and to automatically save a short video to a memory card within the camera. This can then be remotely downloaded and checked for interesting happenings. It can be a slow process to check them all, but sometimes  it yields interesting events, like this one just as the bells were ringing at 4pm this afternoon. This really gives you an idea of how the nest scrape gets its name.

We shall be seeing a lot more of this kind of preparatory action over the next few weeks. If you spot something you think we ought to see, do please help us by noting the exact time stamp on the webcam screen and leaving a comment on this blog. We can then do our best to check whether the moment you saw has been captured, and to share it for all to see.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Drifting into February

Anyone new to this blog and our Derby Cathedral peregrines may be surprised that, even as early as February, the pair begin to court and scrap a depression in the gravel.
This pair have been with us since 2004/5 when they first began to be noticed. So they are an old couple, well used to each other by now.
Not surprisingly, there isn't the same level of noisy display flights as there was in the early years though courtship behaviour on the platform or 'scrape' seems undiminished.
If you are lucky enough to see and hear the pair together on the gravel (as Lorraine in Devon did recently), you will be able to hear the 'e-chupp' calls, especially from the female as the pair bow to each other and go through their 'ritualised' courtship 'facing each other and bowing' displays.
It is clear how dominant the larger female is (the male is about a third smaller - hence the falconer's name for him - the 'tiercel'  - from an old French word meaning a third).
If you have never seen courtship or heard the 'e-chupp' calls we have over 50 You Tube videos available for you to watch.
To find them, once on You Tube do a search for VC57UK (Nick M's code) which will then bring them all up together for you to scroll down to the ones you want to see. Here are a few suggestions of some that show courtship and/or nest scraping (using the feet):

2008 Derby Peregrine Falcons (8) Courtship and E-chupping

2008 Derby Peregrine falcons (5) Courtship and Nest Scraping

Derby peregrines 2013 (6) Nest scraping and a good peer at you all (this is excellent, taken using the newest, wide angled lens!)

Our female takes a look at the new lens soon after
it was put up ( early in 2013)
And a mating sequence (best watched after 9 pm!):

2012 Derby Peregrines (8) Good mating Sequence.

All these clips were extracted by Nick Moyes, our technical wizard. For each one he had to climb the tower to the ringing room, find the clip on the video server (no easy matter!), save it to a CD and take it home and put it on You Tube. Where would we be without him?

Nick B (DWT)