Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Peregrines attacking buzzards

BBC 1 TV's The One Show had a feature from Exeter where the local peregrines that nest on St. Michael's Church in the city have taken more than a dislike to any buzzard passing nearby.
So far, Nick Dixon, local peregrine expert (and also advisor to our Derby project in its formative stages) has found 15 dead buzzards close to the church, all having been attacked by this one pair of falcons.
The birds work cooperatively. The male comes in first and the buzzard flips over to fend it off. As soon as the buzzard rights itself, the female dives in and sometimes hits it with her talons. It is this impact which kills their bigger enemies.
At the time of writing the latest episode (Tuesday 15th) isn't yet available on iPlayer but it will be quite soon I think. The feature is about 10 minutes in:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007tcw7/episodes/player .

The footage the BBC got of the peregrines jointly attacking a buzzard is rather distant but remarkable nevertheless. The ferocity and speed of the peregrines' attacks are extraordinary.
Well worth watching if you are in the UK (overseas folk will be unable to get BBC I think).
In Derby people have witnessed our birds attacking a passing buzzard at least once, but they didn't press home their attacks and the buzzards, although clearly rattled, continued on their way unharmed.
A few years ago, Jon Salloway obtained some great photos of one of the buzzards turned upside down with its talons pointing upwards trying to fend off the attacking falcon.
Derby peregrine attacks a passing buzzard
turned upside down to fend off its attacker.
Photo Jon Salloway
Buzzards have a very wide food spectrum ranging from worms (they eat a lot of them) to rabbits, voles and birds, including chicks taken from nests - so the peregrines' eagerness to keep buzzards at bay is quite understandable.

Nick B (DWT)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Recent images of the adult birds

Ian Bradley (aka superbrad) took these photos last week of our parent birds. We are grateful to him for letting us use his 'super' images. You can see more by going to the Derby peregrines flickr pages.

The male bird surveys the scene 

The female on a ledge just below the nest platform 
Apparently at least one juvenile has been seen recently but with so few people watching from the ground now, reports are few and far between. We would expect that the juveniles would have begun to move away from Derby - so hopefully they are beginning to lead an independent life.
Meanwhile, the Rolls Royce team that has been working with us since February is drawing up its final reports and I will be attending a handover session at their works within the next two weeks.

Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bell Ringing Open Day this Saturday 23rd August

Derby Cathedral Bellringers’ Tower Open Day, Saturday 23rd August 2014.
Roger Lawson, a bell ringer and supporter of the peregrine project, writes:

Regular viewers of the live webcam feeds will be familiar with the sound of the Cathedral’s bells, whether it’s the simple tunes at the quarters and hours, the full tunes at 9am, 12pm and 6pm or the full-blown change-ringing on Tuesday evening or Sunday, but have you ever wondered how they are rung?  Well now’s your chance to find out.
View of the bells from above. Thye are within feet of the peregrine nest platform!
On Saturday 23rd August, the bellringers are holding their annual Tower Open Day where you can climb the tower, learn about the various ways the bells are rung, see demonstrations of ringing and, under careful supervision, have a go yourself.
You’ll also be able to see the high-tech alcove which is home to the peregrine web-cam hub and recording equipment and, if they’re around, watch the peregrines live on the monitor. You can then climb the rest of the way to the top of the tower to get a peregrine’s eye view over Derby and the surrounding countryside.
The tower will be open from 10am to 4.30pm, with climbs every 30 minutes and the last one at 4pm. On the 11:30 climb there will also be a rare opportunity to watch the incredible mechanism which plays the mid-day tune on the bells.
The climbs are £3 for adults and £2 for children over 8 years old.

Nick B (DWT)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Hen Harrier Day and an Post Rally Update and BIRD FAIR NEWS

Sunday PM Update: Well the rally was somewhat wet but a great success!
Over 500 people turned up in torential rain and stood to listen to Chris Packham and Mark Avery. There should be coverage of the rally on TV (tonight) and in the papers tomorrow (and perhaps on breakfast TV too). (and on Mark's blog http://markavery.info/blog/ ). Some photos below.

Tomorrow (Sunday 10th) is Hen Harrier Day when people will gather at three locations in northern England to show their concerns for the plight of this bird which is all but extinct on English grouse moors (there should  be at least 250 pairs but illegal persecution keeps them excluded from their moorland home).
The Derbyshire gathering is at the top of ladybower Reservoir but the event is now 'full'.

So if you are not already booked to go, here's what you can do:
First read Mark Avery's blog to understand the background - scroll down a bit (but not that far!):


And second, if you are into social media, here are some options as set out by BAWC - Birders against Wildlife Crime, who originated the idea:

"If you can't make it to one of our events but would like to have your say and speak up for Hen Harriers...all you need is a smartphone or a computer, and maybe a camera and a willingness to take a 'selfie'!

Thunderclap: The groups organising Hen Harrier Day are co-ordinating a 'Thunderclap' — a method of using Twitter or Facebook to create an amplified message across social media. The message is sent out at the same time to all of the followers of the supporters who have signed up: in effect it explodes across social media like a thunderclap bursts across the sky. BAWC would like to thank the team who met (online) and discussed the message and timing of this campaign, and especially Naomi Rose of the RSPB who took the lead on creating it.
Twitter: Let's get #HenHarrierDay trending! If you'd like to show your support on Twitter please use the hashtag #HenHarrierDay when promoting or discussing Hen Harrier Day.
Twibbon: We've launched a Twibbon campaign for both Twitter and Facebook which, after just a few weeks, has attracted over 1000 users! Note that it is very easy to remove the Twibbon — just go back to the Twibbon website, find this campaign, and revoke permission for the Twibbon app to 'see' your account. Not sure what a twibbon is or why you might want one? Have a look at http://birdersagainst.org/bawc-twibbon-campaign/ .
'Selfie': Yes, we know, 'selfies' (photos of yourself posted online) have a bit of poor reputation now (thanks all you Z-list celebs) but actually they are a great campaign tool. And if you can't make it to a Hen Harrier Day event, how about being part of the action without even having to leave your home. We've uploaded a 'We're Missing our Hen Harriers' poster and simple instructions to http://birdersagainst.org/were-missing-our-hen-harriers-selfie-download/ . It couldn't be easier. Please do read the T&Cs, though; we wouldn't want to use your image using our image without your consent”.

Nick B
Male hen harrier by Chris Baines
Photos from HHD in the Dark Peak District of Derbyshire
Chris Packham and Mark Avery

500 folk listen to Chris Packham (left foreground)
Today (the inglorious 12th) there's plenty of coverage of the grouse/harrier issue on the media.
Best videos of the day itself are on You Tube - just search for Hen Harrier Day or go to Chris Packham's website or Mark Avery's blog.
Incidentally, both Nicks were present in the rain (and played an active part in the preparations for the day) plus several other peregrines volunteers (Sue peregrino included) plus a large contingent from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Ian L was due to have motor biked over from Notts but the rain was just too impossible - the roads were deep in puddles everywhere.

BIRD FAIR at Rutland Water is this weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday 15-17 August  http://www.birdfair.org.uk/ .  If you have never been it is an experience for sure! Massive event!
I'm going on Saturday this time and hope to catch Ed Drewitt talking about his book Urban Peregrines at 1.30 in the author's marquee. There's so many stalls and events/talks it is always difficult to know which day to go on!