Saturday, 18 June 2016

All fledged...and the trials of the last one to go

As you may have seen from the previous post, all four youngsters have  now fledged.
The last one to go ( a big female) left this morning, watched by everyone at the Watch Point.
Wendy Bartter's video is here.
Here are some photos taken by Joyce Sawford, one of our trusty band of volunteers:

Landed in a sycamore tree
Mobbed by a mistle peace for the wicked!

A bit less hassle here on another church near
the cathedral
Now this is better and higher....but I certainly
need a lie down after all that!
There are more great photos (by Cliff P and Ian B) on the flickr site here.

Just a further little plea for donations before you all disappear and start watching football (ha ha)....
Big thanks to everyone who has donated this week....
The Project team

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Fledging gets underway and a request for donations

Update Saturday 3pm: all four have now fledged. The last one is now on a roof top near the cathedral and she has flown quite well to get there. She should be OK now. The Watch Point folk actually saw the last bird leave the platform and eventually located it quite low down on a building.
From there it flew to the roof top on which it seemed quite relaxed, despite the loud band playing at the back of the green where the watch point is held (down by the river). There was some gathering there this afternoon. We will upload some photos when we get them later this evening.
Thanks to everyone who helped today - a team effort! Cliff, who lives nearby, will make a further check this evening.

Update Friday:
the second one has fledged this morning, captured on Wendy Bartter's video here (about 2 mins. in). Thanks Wendy!
Please see our comment to this post (by clicking on 'comments' at the bottom) to read why we can't be down there checking 24/7 and why it isn't really necessary since 85% of our fledgings happen with no problems at all. Usually it is a member of the public who finds and reports a grounded bird. As you can imagine in a busy city centre, there are so many places a bird can land and even when it's up high, much of the time the bird is invisible from the ground however many streets you walk down to look upwards. Over the years we've spend many many hours searching, usually in vain, so we've developed a system that seems to work and to ensure that no bird comes to harm.
We'll do our best to report back on what we discover asap but inevitably there will be delays.
Thanks for your patience.
Cliff Pearson, who has helped us many times over the years to find fledged birds, has reported mid evening Friday that he can see both fledged juveniles on the tower as well as the two in the all's well, for now anyway. Thanks Cliff!
The Watch Point tomorrow should ahve better weather....we hope!
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Early morning today (Thursday 16th) the first one of our juveniles fledged from the platform.
Whether it was pushed or just fell off backwards we don't quite know but it was discovered later on the nave roof, immediately below the nest, none the worse for its fall.

Sliding down the slippery nave roof.....

Thanks to all the commentators who have been watching today plus those on the ground.
The photo below shows it on the balustrade:
Where on earth am I? Photo: Helen Naylor
With the weather set to improve as we head towards the weekend we can expect more fledging shortly. Let's hope the remaining three show a bit more finesse!

The next Watch Point on Saturday (10am - 2pm) could be quite exciting so do come and see if you can experience fledging happening as you stand watching.There's sure to be some fun and games.....

Donate to our Project
Unprompted, several of you have sent us donations this week - many thanks to everyone who did!
We are now appealing for more s
o if you can spare us some cash, please click on the 'donate' tab above. It is really simple to make a donation and now, with no lottery money to underpin our work, we need every penny we can get.
Thank you.

Nick B (DWT)

Monday, 13 June 2016

Not just peregrines on the cathedral and an Update

Update Thursday: the first bird to fledge apparently 'fell backwards' from the platform early this morning (thanks Garry!). It turned out it was on the nave roof below, so it's quite safe for the time being anyway.
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Update Tuesday 15th June: no fledging yet and the weather remains very poor which will deter them (unless one gets a push....!).
The Watch Point this morning was steady.....with rain threatening but staying away mostly. Thanks to Steve, Jane and Paul for running it for us. Paul reported that the male brought in prey about 3pm but that the female promptly took it off him and disappeared. Hopefully, after some plucking, she fed the chicks.....
NB did an interview for Radio Derby - listen here. It comes about one hour 15 minutes into the programme. 
Thanks to everyone who has been commenting, especially those saying there are still four  - which is always reassuring to know and saves us looking ourselves (all your comments appear among our emails so we keep an eye on them directly). 
Plans are in place should any of the youngsters come to ground. Since 2006 only six have done so - so let's hope this year they all get airborne successfully!
Hello to New Yorkers Sandee and also Samantha (and her class). Great that you are watching our birds! Oh, and hello to Puffin Class too!
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While we have obviously focused our attention on the peregrines, other birds have been nesting near by.
Take for example this nest of mistle thrushes on the stonework surrounding a window on the south side of the cathedral. You can just make out the nest two thirds of the way up the right hand side of the window.

There were four chicks which have flown today and are now in the adjacent trees I'm told.

Gary Roots took this photo of one of the parent birds nearby in the rain today. Like the peregrines, mistle thrushes make great parents, fearlessly chasing off any potential threats to their young.
A rather wet adult mistle thrush with food for its Gary Roots
Other birds that nest on the cathedral in most years include wood pigeons, stock doves and feral pigeons.
Since all these birds stay close to the building they are generally not in danger from the peregrines.
One spring, many years ago now, a pair of ravens arrived at the cathedral and began stealing the peregrines cached food. They even started to place a few sticks on a ledge to start a nest but the falcons soon put a stop to that!
Perhaps there are nests of birds near you, something for you to watch once these juvenile peregrines fly the nest? And if you have a birthday coming up, why not invest in some binoculars and see what birds you can see ('for real' this time) in your garden and your local patch.........
Nick B (DWT)

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Fledging time approaches

Our four chicks are now fully feathered, with only a few specks of fluff remaining.
So we can expect them to prepare themselves for fledging by wing flapping and getting on the edge of the platform to feel the air and get their bearings.
While it is possible that one of them might accidentally get pushed off and be forced to fly early, the wing flapping stage can (and usually does) last for several days.
It will also happen that one or more juvenile will disappear from the platform, only to re-appear again some time later.
They begin to climb up at the back of the platform to positions invisible to our cameras.
Already several observers have struggled to see all four of them and have thought one must have fledged only for it to reappear minutes later.
Since 2006, we have had seven or eight of the juveniles come to ground on their maiden flight.

This male came down in 2011. he was much easier to catch
and handle than any of the females!

Alert watchers or passers-by have contacted us and we had managed to catch the fallen birds, put them in a large cardboard box (within which they settle down and stop flapping) and take them back to the top of the tower for a second attempt. These 'second goes' have so far always been successful.
This morning I took a 'rescue' box, gardening gloves plus cloth (to throw over a fallen bird) down to the cathedral ready in case one does come to ground.
Two years ago none did. Last year only one did and here she is:

This big female came down in 2015.....quite a handful!

It is usually the heavier females that find it hard to maintain height on their first flights and end up on the ground, from which they can't get airborne again.
So, if you actually see a juvenile take to the air, please leave a comment on the blog. If you can see only three or fewer, keep watching because they may reappear from their hiding places!
Every year we expect to get many false alarms.....and I'm sure this year will be no exception.
As soon as we get news of one of the juveniles really fledging, we'll post the news here.
Latest video
Wendy Bartter has kindly sent this speeded up video made today of the youngsters, for which, many thanks Wendy. (I see a grand prix was taking place on the streets below!)
Nick B (DWT)

Report on Watch Point 11th June:
After a fairly uneventful start yesterday's watch point proved to be quite exciting with lots of action from both the juvenile and adult birds throughout the latter part of the morning and early afternoon. The young birds could be seen vigorously flapping their wings, and peering over the edge of the platform. The white downy feathers that were present last week are now almost completely gone and their beautiful juvenile plumage could be clearly seen through the telescopes. On numerous occasions at least one of the juveniles spent time perched confidently on the edge of the platform.

Part way through the morning a small flock of around four or five gulls (possibly lesser black backed gulls) drifted overhead causing the juveniles to set up an alarm call, and bringing the female quickly back to the tower. Despite being smaller than the gulls she put up quite a fight, immediately flying straight towards one of them of and bringing her talons in to contact with it. The gull was almost brought down but fortunately it managed to make a lucky escape. Quite a sight right above the watch point! 
The male bird arrived later on and after sitting on the tower for a while he treated us to some great fly pasts. A possible third peregrine was also spotted high above in the clouds. Both adult birds again provided us with lovely views whilst perched on the nearby hotel lettering. Helen Naylor. Watch Point volunteer.