Friday, 27 April 2007

How things have moved on

Thinking back to this time last year, we were guessing whether the birds had laid eggs, how many and whether incubation had begun or not (the breeding season was some three weeks later, so incubation had hardly begun by this date). Now of course we can click a button and see the incubating parent, night and day which is quite magical! Twelve months ago, it was seeing the very tip of a wing poking up above the front of the platform that finally proved that incubation was taking place and that eggs had, indeed, been laid.
People visiting the webcam pictures or reading this blog will hardly be aware of the extra-ordinary amount of work which our partner Nick Moyes at Derby Museum has devoted to this project since the autumn in order to get to this state of affairs. As someone involved with this project from the outset, I must applaud his energy, skill, ingenuity and sheer hard work in getting the cameras up and producing such high quality pictures. Believe me it has not been easy, far from it!
Meanwhile, the wildlife trust is planning the public watch point events on Cathedral Green and prey recording continues. A little grebe corpse was found on 20th and on 24th, a golden plover, albeit a rather old and maggoty one!
In half term the wildlife trust will hold four 'family activity sessions' at the cathedral, focussed on the peregrines, and the museum will hold another in June. More on this later.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Almost Too Popular!

A quick glimpse of four eggs as the adult shifts position. This image was captured direct from the Streamdays webcam at 8.30 this morning Over 7,000 visitors since last week - and we're now really feeling the strain. 800 users were logged on at one time on Thursday!

Please, please may we ask you not to keep the peregrine webcam open on your computer when you're not looking at it? So many people have been doing this (including me!) that it's causing an absolutely huge drain on the servers supplying these pictures. We might have to reduce the image size or limit connection time if we don't reduce data demand. It's like leaving a tap running all day just in case you get thirsty.

It's easy to get around this: Rather than go straight to the webcam page, go here first: www.derby.gov.uk/peregrine Then, click on the obvious link to the temporary webcam page to view the cameras. Afterwards simply click your "Back" button to return to the main peregrine page. (You can keep that page open for as long as you like) To view the cameras again, simply click the "Forwards" button on your browser, and so on.

Alternatively, bookmark the webcam page and close it after viewing.

Streamdays.com are providing an absolutely superb service, at very reasonable cost. It's proving so popular that, to quote their Managing Director, Frank Crouwel, "To be quite [honest] with you, we have never experienced anything like this in the seven years we have been involved with webcam hosting. "

It's great being popular, and we think of data as being free - but it costs these guys to supply data to each and every one of you. Not even the servers at Derby City Council could do what they are doing. So please help them to help us! Or we might have to scale down the service in some way.

Thank you for your co-operation
Nick Moyes
Derby Museum & Art Gallery

Follow this link to see more webcams hosted by Streamdays

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Take a Closer Look

Since launching the internet webcam four days ago we've had nearly 3000 visits to our webpages. We've increased the size of both camera images and, for a short time only, we've zoomed in Camera 1 to give you an even closer look into the private life of Derby's peregrines.
(Note: we sorry that the night-time picture was out of focus on Wednesday night. We didn't realise there would be such a difference in image quality under infra-red. We'll zoom back out a bit more just as soon as we can.)

After the excitement of Easter's egg-laying, which didn't quite make it live on-line, we now have a quieter time as both parents incubate their eggs around the clock.

For us the work continues to develop the website, bring you an audio channel and, of course to plan the various events and peregrine watches which the Wildlife Trust, in particular, will be leading on.

Thanks to the guys at Capita and Streamdays for connecting us up to the web last week, and for presenting our video stream so effectively, as this saved image shows.

We now have a new shortcut to help you reach the main peregrine page on the Derby City Council website. It's www.derby.gov.uk/peregrine From there follow the link to a new page containing the webcams at http://195.224.106.202/peregrine/webcam.htm

If you can't load the images on your computer, you may need to install an up-to-date version of Flash player. It needs version 7 or above. You can get an update at this link: Flash Player update You will probably need adminstrator rights on your PC to install some software.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Flying High - We're Live

We did it! At last, all the Team's efforts have paid off. We're out on the internet, and you can now watch Derby Cathedral's peregrine falcons as they incubate their four eggs over the next 28 days.
Just follow this link to the Peregrine Page on Derby City Council's website
- or alternatively, try this link to a temporary webcam page to see the images themselves.


A Peregrine launches into the air from Derby Cathedral. Photo: J.Salloway
  • We have two video camera streams for you to watch, changing every three seconds. Later we will have two sets of static images and an audio stream which will be more suited to dial-up users. Please tell us how you find viewing the pages, and forgive any glitches or breaks in service as things bed down. (We had one over Saturday, but a reboot of our video server by the Head Verger at 7.30pm resolved the problem!)

If you wish, you can give us feedback by leaving a public comment on these blog pages, or you can complete the "Contact Us" form at the bottom of the peregrine page of Derby City Council's website to make direct contact with the project team.

My goodness, it's been a long hard slog, and immensely frustrating at times, but well worth all the hours and hours at home and at work, making plans, writing risk assessments, talking to suppliers and IT experts, as well to other peregrine projects around the world. Thanks to everyone who has helped to get us to this point, including those who gave donations or grants. See the main Peregrine Project Page for full details.

Nick Moyes
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Fourth Egg

The adult female is about to leave the nest as the male has just arrived to take over for a short while. Click image to enlargeWe now have confirmation of a fourth egg, laid on Tuesday morning between 8.30am - 10.30am.
It's unlikely that another egg will be laid, as incubation is known to start in earnest after the penultimate egg appears. A review of the last few days footage shows that both parents are now incubating almost continuously.

All four eggs starred briefly on BBC TV's regional news this evening, and we're hopeful tomorrow will see some developments on the IT front which will bring live pictures on the web one step closer. - Please watch this space for further news.

Two adults and one of last year's chicks all together on the nest platform. Female in foreground, male to right, juvenile on edge of nest platform. Click image to enlargeOne event which we did not expect to see was the repeated appearance at the nest of one of last year's chicks - now a juvenile. It is browner in colour than the adults and has white patches on its head. On two separate occasions over the Easter weekend our cameras and video recorder captured the young bird intimidating the male so much that he ceases incubating and flies away. It then spends about five minutes investigating the eggs - even giving one an accidental kick whilst indulging in some practice nest-scraping, before the adult female appears and gently takes over the incubation of the eggs. Its presence seems to be tolerated, and it's likely to remain around all summer, perhaps even helping to feed this year's chicks.

The juvenile peregrine really lays into the adult male to get him to get off the eggs. Click image to enlargeThe photo on the right shows the juvenile bird from last year having a good go at the incubating male. We see lots of claws and wing flapping until he eventually gives up and moves away. We know that our birds are not reluctant to see off both buzzards and other peregrines that enter their airspace, so its clear that they are willing to tolerate the presence of the young bird. Perhaps anthropomorphically, we've could liken the juvenile's actions to those of a teenager, copying some of the actions of the parents without fully appreciating what's going on. The parents tolerate this behaviour as they've already invested a lot in its upbringing. Perhaps in return it will do a spot of baby-sitting for them!

Monday, 9 April 2007

Easter Eggs

The camera's were checked on Sunday afternoon to reveal the appearance of a third egg!! On checking back on the recording it is estimated that this was laid around 6.30am on Easter Day - making it a real Easter Egg!!!! Although another egg could be expected on Tuesday, incubation should now begin in earnest. Tuesday is a Tower Open Day at the Cathedral so there will be plenty of opportunities to check the 'state of play'.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Even more eggs-sighted! - video clips

We now have two eggs! The Cathedral's Head Verger rang this evening to announce that a second egg had been laid. We'll know exactly when once we review our 24hr video recording after Easter.
Meanwhile after the excitement of our first egg, here are some key video moments captured on Tuesday morning. Double-click the image to play this YouTube video.

At 5:46am the egg is laid, and we get our first glimpse of it just moments later. Just before dawn the male arrives to take his first look at the new arrival in the nest before flying off again. Under our infra-red light the egg looks white, but then we see the egg in daylight for the first time. The male does his bit at keeping the egg warm, although we've already seen periods of many hours this week when the egg is left exposed. This is normal. Incubation of peregrine eggs only starts in earnest when the last egg in the clutch is ready to be laid.

But we've included one final surprise. We were stunned to see one of last year's juveniles turn up on the nest platform to inspect and touch the egg. Note the amazing moment when (she?) lays over the egg and does some nest scraping actions before the adult male arrives and, rather timidly, takes back the egg and sits down on it. We were really surprised to capture these moments, but we#ve since learnt that it is not an unknown occurrence for juveniles from a previous year to get involved in a nest, even to the point of feeding a chick. (If you can't see the video when you double-click the image, there are some stills in the blog entry below. )

Thanks to Philip for updating our peregrine information leaflet. You can download this by going to "Key Links" on the left side of this page.

Finally, we have now been assured by Capita that they will get us connected to the internet by Monday 16th April, if not before. So watch this space for news.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

So, egg-sighted!

First view of the new egg, laid on 3rd April 2007 at 5:46am Click image for larger viewA delightful surprise awaited us this morning when we turned on the monitor in the cathedral tower - we have our first egg! It was laid at 5.46am on Tuesday 3rd April, and was captured on film under infrared illumination. We will be working hard over the next couple of evenings to try and bring you some video clips. Meanwhile the moment of egg laying was shown on Wednesday evening on BBC TV's "East Midlands Today", and you can watch the news clip here.

Obviously everyone involved in the project is really excited, and we're hoping it won't be the only one. (No further egg was seen when we check again on Thursday)

The falcon inspects and gently moves her new egg. Click image for larger view Just before laying, she stood absolutely still in the nest scrape for a full 40 minutes, before slowly turning round just once, after which we got our first glimpse of the egg. By daybreak we saw the egg in its full colour, a beautiful dark, rich red/brown. They both seemed so proud - as are we! The most usual clutch size in peregrines is four. The eggs are reddish-brown and are laid at intervals of about two days. Only when the clutch is complete will the female (the falcon) begin incubation. The male will then do all the hunting, providing her with food. She will leave the eggs to feed and the male will take over incubation while she does. However, when she's ready, she soon returns and ousts the male from the eggs.

First view of the new egg in daylight. 3rd April 2007. Click image for larger viewWe're really sorry (and not a little frustrated) that we still can't bring you live webcam pictures, but this doesn't seem too far away now. We're assured by Capita, who are Derby Council's IT consultants, that they can get our first image stream out to you by Monday 16th April, if not before. The wireless internet connection is nearly complete, and it's then just the job of configuring our video server to send out the pictures. Whether the first images you get to see are static pictures or a video stream depends on how easily Capita find it to send stuff out from behind our firewall.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Some cold wind

Visiting the cathedral early yesterday morning, the bitingly cold NW wind had forced the peregrine pair to huddle against the stonework on the top ledge on the South side of the tower, as far out of the weather as they could get. Meanwhile, blown down by the wind, an old woodcock carcase and the leg of a little grebe were found below.
The previous day they had been nest scraping again soon after the series of tower tours during a cathedral open day had finished. These tours have no significant effect on our resolute birds.
Whether we get an egg before Easter remains to be seen....it begins to look like we might have to wait until the week after....but only the falcons know!
Meanwhile, enjoy the nest scraping and courtship displays seen on the video clips included in earlier posts!