Monday, 23 November 2015

Gear on the move down

Today, Nick Moyes moved all the various technical gear and gyzmos down a floor inside the cathedral tower. This involved turning the whole system off so we apologise if you were getting a black screen today!
It took two of us about six hours to make the move down. Unplugging everything was no simple task and each lead had to be labelled to ensure it went back in the right socket!
Fortunately the wiring Nick had employed back in 2007 when the web cams were set up was long enough to be fed through the ringing room floor and down into the room below.
Our new home is bigger than the previous one and well supplied with sockets too!
Clearly there may well be some teething problems (and the pictures seemed to be somewhat blurred at first) but we hope to have these sorted out when we next do a maintenance abseil....please bear with us.
Nick M figures out the wiring in
its new location
Finally, as if by magic, a picture appears on the monitor. There's some tidying up yet to be done but at least the system seems to be working.
The monitor in position with an old display board from upstairs
adjacent. This will be replaced before the summer.
A problem with Stream 4 seems to be caused by some external factor interfering with the signal as it travels from the tower to the Silk Mill Museum or, more likely, from the museum across to the council's IT.
One possible cause is a new hotel being built further down Full Street behind the cathedral. 
The new hotel which may possibly be getting in the way of the signal
with the nave roof in the foreground

Sorting this out is beyond our control but we have reported the problem - so fingers crossed.
We are aware of the ongoing problems with the camera that looks horizontally above the nest (towards Jurys Inn) and we plan to address this before the start of the new breeding season.

The project team
Ps. Stream 3 is off air until the spring.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Another one bites the dust

NOTICE: We have been asked to relocate our IT equipment into a different part of Derby Cathedral's Tower. This necessitates our webcams going offline at times. We hope to undertake most of this work on Monday 23rd November.

This time it isn't one of our peregrines but a juvenile bird from St. Michael's Church in Exeter, fledged (and ringed) in 2013.
It was found dead in Halifax in the spring with five lead shotgun pellets inside its body. The whole story has just been made public.
Read about it here .
X-ray of the Exeter peregrine clearly showing round lead
shot in its neck, base of skull and leg

It is of course illegal to injury, harm or kill any bird of prey, with special penalties if you kill a bird on Schedule One - and the peregrine is on that Schedule because of its rarity.
Sadly, peregrines are persecuted both up on the hills and moors where they come into conflict with the grouse shooting industry and also in more urban/lowland situations where pigeon fanciers sometimes decide to take the law into their own hands.
Where this bird was shot at is unknown but it seems more likely that it may have been shot as it flew over the grouse moors to the south of Halifax rather than in Halifax itself. We'll never know.
In Belper, a town in central Derbyshire, where peregrines have nested for a few years, earlier this year the resident male was found dead, again with lead pellets in its body. So we can surmise that many other peregrines suffer a similar fate but their corpses are never found.
Thanks to Lorraine for alerting us to this recent case and to Nick Dixon in Devon for the full details and the x-ray photo. Nick has been a constant supporter and source of wise advice to us here in Derby right from the beginning of our project in 2005/6.

Petition to ban the use of lead shot
The use of lead in shotgun cartridges is a subject much in the news at the moment. There is a petition to call on government to ban it completely since it does so much harm in the environment. Please sign the petition here. To read about the background (why it needs to be banned) please see Mark Avery's excellent blog here  - though you will need either to scroll back several posts or use the link saying 'Lead' on the right hand side of his blog. There are also concerns about anyone eating game shot using lead, a Mark explains.

Thank you.

The project team

Ps One bit of good news today is that the estate in Norfolk (Stody Estate) on which corpses of several buzzards were found (and proved to have been poisoned by the estate's gamekeeper) has been heavily fined.
To read about this see Mark's latest post.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Time for a read

We are now in the quietest period of a peregrine's year: the breeding season is long gone, the 'kids' have departed and the nights are drawing in. There's not much to see on the web cams either especially while the 'pud cam' that looks horizontally across the ledge above the nest is out of operation (it will be fixed sometime soon we hope).
So, maybe it is time to read up about these iconic birds and check back through video clips to remind ourselves of previous breeding seasons.
As for books on and about peregrines, here are a few I can recommend:

The Peregrine by J A Baker, 1967, with a new edition by New York Review Books.
Superb nature writing, a classic for sure. It tells the story of peregrines in winter on the Essex coast but in such a wonderful way that the book is difficult to put down.

The Peregrine Falcon by Derek Ratcliffe (Poyser Books 1980). This is undoubtedly the 'peregrine bible' written by someone who studied these birds in the wilds of Scotland and England and who was a supreme scientist. The text is very readable and well worth the effort. There are many fine vignettes by the wildlife artist Donald Watson.

Falcon by Helen Macdonald (Reaction Books, 2006). Well written, this book describes how the peregrine has been used in falconry for centuries, used a heraldic symbols and even worshipped as a god. A surprisingly entertaining read.

Urban Peregrines by Ed Drewitt (Pelagic Press 2014).
A comprehensive account of how peregrines have taken over our towns and cities. Our Derby project gets several mentions too.

Top Gun of the Sky by Martin Bradley Ceratopia Books 2013. A thin volume aimed at children but with some excellent graphics.

The Peregrine Sketchbook by C F Tunnicliffe (1996, Excellent press). Tunnicliffe lived and painted in Anglesey and his wonderful studies of cliff nesting peregrines were made at South Stack.
I'll put up a further post before the year end about peregrines and art - but there's no better place to start than with this marvellous book.

To see video clips look down the right hand side of this blog to find 'Archived Clips'. Or go to the You Tube site and search for either Derby peregrines or UKVC57 which also brings them up.

Nick Brown
Project team member

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Skype For Schools

Teachers! Would you like one of our Project Team to drop in to your school classroom to answer questions on Derby's Peregrine Falcons. We're willing to travel anywhere in the world to chat with you!

We can offer schools a free, 30-40 minute classroom chat via Skype on some Mondays or Tuesdays. These need to be pre-booked and can be tailored to best meet your class needs.

Children from Brigg Infants School in Derbyshire made these drawings
of our first Skype classroom session 
The activity would be teacher led, and requires preliminary teacher-expert hook-up to plan and schedule the Skype activity. We would expect your class to have already done some peregrine falcon activities, and to have watched our webcameras on Derby Cathedral. Pupils would be encouraged to think about what questions they might put to an expert. For best effect, these questions would already have been sent to us in advance by the classroom leader. 

We also suggest a preliminary Skype hook-up with the teacher a week before to discuss the teacher’s needs, and to agree on how best to approach the session. 

Our Skype session is best scheduled immediately after a school break or lunch period. This allows time to ensure everything is set up and working before the class arrives. With pupils positioned in front of the school webcam, the teacher could invite each one to come up, singly or in pairs, to ask their question. This is not to preclude spontaneity, but is intended to ensure a well-structured session. 

Our volunteer Team member would be happy to explain the background to peregrines starting to live on Derby's Cathedral, or the current position in the peregrines’ life cycle, and what might be expected to be seen on the webcams in the weeks/months ahead.

Following the Skype session, teachers could encourage pupils to do  follow-up work, such as KS1 children doing drawings to show how they class hook-up went, and the responses they got from the Project Team.

This is a new activity for the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project, and is volunteer run. So we may have to give priority to local schools if demand is high.  But for now we can offer Skype sessions only Mondays or Tuesdays, most easily between the local British time of 9am to 10pm. 

Download a  Session Plan  Or contact the Project Team volunteer to discuss availability: