Friday, 17 July 2015

Final Watch Point 18th July

With the juveniles still around the tower (and showing on the web cams), Ian Layton, our Engagement Officer has decided to hold a final (really final) Watch Point tomorrow Saturday 18th July.
Two of the juveniles together. Photo Roger Lawson

So if you've not been down to see the birds and meet Ian and his trusty band of brilliant volunteers, then tomorrow is your last chance.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant, which began back in summer 2012, finishes next month. Ian has done a superb job both in organising Watch Points for the public over the last three years and in engaging new audiences. In the absence of a grant next year, it remains to be seen if we can get Ian back to help us once more. A future blog post will cover both what we have achieved with the help of our £49,000 HLF grant and how the future of the project looks.
Meanwhile, if you would like to donate (and it is so easy via Virgin Moneygiving) please do so.
Just click on the 'Donate' tab on the home page of the blog and hey presto!

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Ps. And you anyone would like to join the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, please ask for a form at the Watch Point, phone the Trust office 01773 881188 (in office hours) or go to the Trust's website: and click on 'Join Us'. It's quick, simple and entirely painless!

The Trust has 14,000 members but is striving to achieve a total of 20,000 by 2020.
If you live in or near Derbyshire there are so many reasons why you should join us. And we also have many 'ex-pats' and others living beyond the county who support our work to Protect Wildlife, Restore Landscapes and Inspire People.
The Peregrine Project certainly seems to do the latter with over 350,000 hits this year to the blog and web cams and over 3,000,000 since the cameras began in 2007!

Watch Point report. Jane Tagg, one of our newest recruits to the ranks of our volunteers, reports that there was a steady flow of visitors.
Final Watch Point 2015 Joyce Sawford

All three of the juvenile peregrines were present during the morning though they flew off later, at which point, the adults were visible.
Hope that lion doesn't swish its tail! Photo Joyce Sawford
 So we were delighted that the whole family was still around to be seen and admired! 

A really BIG thank you is due to Ian and to his wonderful band of volunteers who have helped out in a fair old mixture of rain, wind and hot sun all summer. At least it didn't snow!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Post fledging post and a Watch Point summary

For those web cam watchers who live far away from Derby, here is a photo showing the layout of the cameras and nest platform.
The platform sits at the bottom left of the louvred 'window' which, incidentally is just wood and has no glass in it.
The two original 'nest cams' are sited on posts attached either side of the Nest Platform. A more recent camera with the wide-angle lens is fixed to the back of the platform, and looks out over the nest towards Cathedral Green below (where the Watch Points are held) and beyond to the River Derwent.
Tower Cam (sometimes known as 'pud cam' because it looks like a Christmas pudding) sits in the lead gutter to the left of the three carved 'Grotesques' which appear on the photo as dark blobs.
It is on these grotesques that the three fledglings are now sitting.

Here's the 'peregrine's eye' view from the top of the tower looking over Cathedral Green and out towards the River Derwent:
View looking East taking in the winter showing
Cathedral Green and the River Derwent
If you were to peer over the top of the tower and look down, this is the view of the platform some 20-25 metres below:
Photo looking down on the platform taken on chick ringing day
And here's a photo from a previous year of the adult male bird sitting on one of the 'grotesques':

Photo by John Salloway
Wednesday Watch Point (July 8th).
Over 150 people came through the Watch Point. They saw all three juveniles plus both the adults, though not all together (only one adult at a time).
At one moment, the juv males saw a pigeon and set off from the top of the tower chasing it. He didn't achieve a meal but clearly he's well up on his learning curve.
Here's a photo from a previous year (2012) showing three juvenile birds in the air, one of them carrying prey passed to it by an adult and the other two screaming that they would rather like to have meal that for themselves!:
Photo by Ian Bradley
It is this sort of exciting behaviour that you will see (with luck) if you come to the Watch Point on this Saturday, 11th July.
Last year, a less than competent juvenile failed to catch a prey item dropped for it in mid-air by the female. The prey dropped perilously close to people sitting outside a local pub (The Dolphin) drinking beer and eating their lunch! Fortunately it just missed landing in someone's pint pot!

Nick B (DWT)

Ps. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to the project recently.
If you've enjoyed the web cams and blog but haven't donated yet - please scroll down to the previous post to read about how to donate. It is VERY simple and easy and quick!

11th July Watch Point Report by Helen Naylor:
Another very successful watch point today, with plenty to show the steady stream of visitors that arrived throughout the morning. All three juvenile birds were seen on the tower, looking very fit and healthy and enjoying the sunshine. They made several flights over the watch point and around the cathedral. It was great to see them flying so confidently. The adult male was around for much of the time, even perching on the nearby roof of the Silk Mill Museum giving us superb close up views. The young birds were very vocal and could be heard calling to him on numerous occasions, hoping for some food! The juvenile wood pigeon that was still in its nest last week below the peregrine platform appears to have gone, so hopefully it managed to fledge successfully! Another big thank you for all the kind donations that we received today. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

We need your donations!

Update Saturday 20th June: Our webcams now have an internet connection, thanks to speedy work on Friday by Derby Council's infrastructure agent, WormPurple. However Stream 3 is temporarily inactive whilst an essential computer upgrade is carried out to replace an old Windows XP machine.
Reports on previous Watch Points are at the bottom of this post.

So, with all three youngsters having left the nest (please scroll down this blog to read the story), there will be less to see via the web cams from now on (even when they are working - and we do apologise once more for the recent problems which are clearly beyond our control!)
It seems a long time since March when the birds really started to display and start scraping a depression in the gravel for their eggs.
Since then, there have been well over 300,000 hits to the blog and web cams - testiment to the continuing popularity of this project - and the birds.
We hope you've derived pleasure from watching these fascinating falcons go about their breeding. Perhaps you feel a part of the 'virtual community' that seems to develop each summer. If you are lucky enough to live within reach of Derby, perhaps you've been to a Watch Point and seen the birds for real - and met some of the staff and volunteers (and 'supporters'), who make this project such an enjoyable one to work on.

As you will know, our lottery grant ends very soon. By August we will be back trying to stand on our own financial feet - so we make this appeal to you to make a donation to keep the project running in the future.
All donations are welcome, however small or large.
Last Wednesday, for example, someone drove up to the Watch Point and handed Steve, one of our volunteers,a crisp £50 note! If it was you - MANY THANKS! 
If you can't afford that much, we will be delighted to receive anything - however small. And every donor will receive a personal 'thank you' from the team.

How to donate - the details are to be found on the side of the blog home page and via the 'Donations' tab but here's a quick summary of the most commonly used methods:

1. Click the My Donation button on our blog homepage, or click below to make a contribution via our   VirginMoneyGiving page (or click above)

2. Phone the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust office in Belper (01773 881188) in office hours (9- 4.30 Fridays and to 5pm other week days) and make a payment using a credit or debit card. It is easy, quick, entirely safe and many donors use this method.

3. You can also donate at a Watch Point. They are on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

4. Send a cheque, payable to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, to DWT, East Mill, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1XH. Please enclose a letter or note making it clear that your donation is for the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project.

For further payment methods, please click on the Donations tab on this blog.

GIFT AID - if you are a UK tax payer, you can agree to have your donation gift aided which adds a further 20% to the total we receive with no cost to you at all! Please ask for details. Really all we need is your full address and something saying you are indeed a UK tax payer, willing to have this donation gift aided. 

Many thanks in advance,

The Project Team  (Nick M, Ian L and Nick B)

Report on the Watch Point on 20th June by Ian Layton:
Another wet – but still rewarding day on Cathedral Green today. 
Things started well with the two adults on the tower with two of the young more hidden against the brown stonework.
By the time we had fetched the kit from the Silk Mill and from the Cathedral and sorted out the multi-lingual A Board for Irongate – we were treated to one of the best sights of year so far. The two adults had decamped over to Jury’s Inn and were sitting to the right – one on the spire and one on the lettering on the east side. Then all three young appeared in short order against the skyline sitting on the hotel’s roof. The adult male took a short hinting trip and soon returned with what appeared to be a blackbird – which caused quite a kerfuffle with the youngsters!

At this time town was reasonably busy and we were quite busy on the scopes – but before long it began to drizzle quite persistently and the street soon emptied. The rain got heavier and we moved under the shelter of the trees but set a scope up closer to the Silk Mill pub where we could show the birds whilst having a little shelter. Unfortunately the rain seemed to get stuck over Derby and we lost at least a third of our time with very few people around.
The rain cleared up a little soon after 1.00pm and the streets became a little busier and we were able to return the scopes out to the Green where they belong. By close of play at about 1.45 we had counted almost 100 people at the scopes – a very good showing on such a wet day – and it was especially lovely to see our “new regulars” down on the Green again – so a special thanks to Jane and her Mum (“cos we know you’ll be reading this!) and to Saul, Blythe and their Mum too – who now know more about peregrines AND how a motorbike twist throttle works too! Glad to be of service!!
Throughout all this time the youngsters remained on the roof, hunkered down out of the weather, though one (probably one of the female young judging by her size) could be seen trying her wings out and hopping around the rooftop. On a couple of times the adults took a flit around the Green and around the tower but soon returned to Jurys Inn where they could keep an eye on their charges and seemed to be quite content despite the rain – which we hope means that all is well with all three of them. 
Update Sunday 21st 8 am. All the juvs on top of Jurys Inn.

Two juvs together on the tower -  Photo Roger Lawson
Watch Point 27th June: a sunny day at last and all three juvs on the cathedral - so there was plenty for everyone to see.
They're up there somewhere!
Antony explains the project's history

The next Watch Point is on Saturday 4th July between 10.00 and 1.30pm with the probability of a final one on July 4th. As always – everyone is welcome.
Report on 1st July's Watch Point by Joyce Sawford, one of our trusty volunteer helpers:
"It was very hot at the watchpoint today, 1st July. We arrived at 10:30am and all three fledglings were visible in various places on the tower and were very vocal. On adult was tucked in on the tower in a shady spot. One of the young ones took flight when the other adult arrived and joined it in several circuits of the tower before landing again. The young ones changed places several times, but spent most of the time resting on the grotesques and water spouts. 
We had a steady stream of visitors over lunchtime, particularly as quite a number of folks had brought their lunch to have a picnic on Cathedral Green. It was good to be able to introduce so many folks - some of whom were visiting Derby for the first time - to 'our' peregrines.
I have put some pictures up on Flickr".
Report on July 4th Watch Point: we enjoyed decent weather after a very thundery and wet night. The three juvs were on the tower in view but generally a rather quiet morning. The highlight was  a mallard with her brood of seven ducklings appearing as if from nowhere and walking them down to the river, watched and abetted by several of us from the Watch Point. 
We're on our Joyce Sawford

Phew, we made it....... Photo Joyce Sawford
Thanks to our volunteers Tony and Joyce, Helen, Sue H (coming up from Buckinghamshire!) and Antony plus Liz who was on the recruitment table.  And welcome to Jane Tagg who has offered to help us with running the Watch Points next year 
A banded demoiselle flew past us, as did a rather faded red admiral and one or two swifts flew high overhead. The wood pigeon squab on the nest just below the new platform is growing fast.....
Pigeon squab - keeping a low profile! Photo Joyce Sawford

Had the walks taken place (there were no takers unfortunately, people would have seen the tiny population of White Letter Hairstreak butterflies which live on a single wych elm tree on King Street near the cathedral. Colin Bowler saw about 20 butterflies mostly at the top of the tree but with a few coming down low enough to be photographed.
Can you see the 'white letter'? These scarce insects
are very small but up close like this, very beautiful.
Photo Colin Bowler


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

First fledger comes to ground (plus fledging updates)

For Updates please see the bottom of this post......

About  (or before) 7.00 am this morning (Wednesday 17th), one of the females (colour ring number 031) flew from the platform but failed to make it back to the tower. She was found by Colin Brailsford, one of the workmen from the cathedral, who cleverly managed to get her into a box until I arrived - great job Colin!
031 on the ground - photo Colin Brailsford
On inspection in the hand, she seemed fine - and very feisty too!
Looking none the worse.....
So I took her back to the top of the tower and released her onto one of the lead gutters:
How did I get back up here then?
Subsequently she flew to a chimney on a shop on Irongate close by but then took another flight and was lost to sight. She seems to fly strongly and should be fine now....hopefully the people at the Watch Point today will have a look around for her.
2 pm 17th Update: it seems that two juveniles (031 the grounded female and the male -032) have now fledged - there being just one (with colour ring No. 030, a female) left in the nest platform. A look around the local roofs failed to find either youngster but the parents seem very calm so probably they can see where they are from their elevated vantage point and are happy they are OK.
The Watch Point had a steady flow of visitors (including Linda and MaryT, two of our blog commentators). The weather was overcast and quite blustery...not ideal conditions for making your first flight!
Update 18th June 8 am: 030 still on the platform with the male 032 on a ledge just below (at one point face to face with the incubating wood pigeon nesting there!). No sign of 031. the female that came to ground yesterday but the parent birds seem very calm so she'll be up there somewhere. Four swifts flying about round the tower.
032, the little male, was sitting very close to the nesting wood pigeon below the platform.

Anyone suggest a good picture caption?

UPDATE Friday 19th June: the last chick fledged this morning, sometime after 5.30 am. Certainly by 8 am when I arrived at the cathedral, the platform/scrape was empty. Two males (the adult and the youngster) were sitting on the grotesques above the nest - a favoured sitting place. The adult female peregrine was on the highest point of Jurys Inn looking down, suggesting that one or even both her young female offspring may be up on that flat roof somewhere, out of sight. Certainly there was an air of calm, with neither adult flying about or calling, so with luck all three young birds are safely 'up on high'. Further checks will be made but do come down to the Watch Point tomorrow (Saturday) to meet our volunteers. For sure some of the birds will be visible, if not all.
Ps. Some great captions for the pigeon/peregrine photo above are among recent blog comments but do keep 'em coming!

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)