Thursday, 31 May 2007
Ps. They also liked the night-time sequences and might use these on the 'nightshift' part of the programme. Fingers crossed.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
The day brightened up after a wet start and both adults took advantage of the sun and wind to soar high above the cathedral this afternoon, accompanied at one point by a passing sparrowhawk.
The family events went well and the children had great views of both adults through the telescopes. They also made model peregrines, watched a short powerpoint presentation and played food chain games on Cathedral Green. Catch 'em young!
We have had more feedback including kind words from someone watching in Hawaii. Thanks and welcome!
More good news on the sponsorship front today too, with Capita UK now offering us more staff time and £1000 towards our financial needs. More on this to follow. Incidentally, visitors to the watchpoint have donated over £200 already - many thanks if you have put a pound in the donations box!
Finally, BBC TV's Springwatch website has links to our web cams on its home page. Let's hope they decide to show some of the video footage we have sent them sometime during the next three weeks.
Monday, 28 May 2007
Meanwhile, we watched the female pluck some prey and feed it to the chicks. The male joined her on the platform briefly, as viewers of the webcam between 10-11am may have seen. Later, he flew off, making a very distinct alarm call at another male peregrine which was circling the tower high up. Was this an intruder or perhaps the young male from last year's brood?
While on the Green, we met a man who was filming his grandchildren fishing on the river nearby two weeks ago. He spotted a great spotted woodpecker flying upstream which he started to film. To his amazement, it was chased and eventually caught by the male peregrine right in front of his eyes! He managed to capture the whole event on film and we hope he'll lend us a copy so we can share this observation with you....
Sunday, 27 May 2007
Naturally we were forced to cancel the watchpoint. The forecast for tomorrow isn't much better either......
Saturday, 26 May 2007
Friday, 25 May 2007
27 comments so far and a further dozen direct to the Trust indicate that the site is very much appreciated and being avidly watched in many places in the USA, Canada and Australia, with further peregrine addicts in France and Hungary as well as many across the UK!
Please keep the comments coming. Reply either directly to this post or to the previous one or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are particularly keen to hear from teachers about how they are already or might like to use the peregrine story at school. Such responses are best sent to the email address above if you will.
The family events on 29th and 30th May (see 19th May post) are aimed at 7-11 year olds with a parent accompanying them. They are filling up nicely now, with just a few places left. Ring the wildlife trust office on 01773 881188 in office hours to book a place.......but hurry!
We have put together a powerpoint presentation and a 'make a model peregrine' activity for the children who will also get to see the birds directly through our telescopes.
Very soon the chicks will be viewable from the ground as they begin to poke their heads above the front of the platform to view the world for the first time. This is a further incentive to visit the watch points which are now running daily on Cathedral Green between 10am and 2pm, weather permitting, and thanks to the volunteers who have been running them for us!
Until now, our project has utilised their expertise in wireless connectivity and server configuration in a normal customer-client relationship. i.e. someone pays for their skills, and this has been the City Council.
But now we hear that they are keen to support our project by offering us free technical support. Not only that, they are keen to meet the cost of a second "Peregrine Watch" banner which will more effectively promote and publicise our manned Watch Points on Cathedral Green, in both this and future years. The Watch Points are now running every day in good weather from 10am-2pm right to, and perhaps beyond, fledging in mid-late June. (see blog entry for May 15th)
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Saturday, 19 May 2007
We hope to develop the educational side of this project as soon as we can. If you have ideas for linking the peregrine story and the web cam pictures to school curricular work in particular, please get in touch (email@example.com).
This half term the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is running four pre-booked 'family' activity sessions on the peregrines at the cathedral, aimed at 7-11 year olds, accompanied by their parents. Those on Tuesday 29th May are full but there are still some places on Wednesday 30th, both am and pm. There is a small charge. For details and to book places, ring the Trust office on 01773 881188 anytime after 9am on Monday.
Details of a similar event run by Derby Museum in June will follow later.
Friday, 18 May 2007
Three cameramen, sound recordist, interviewer and producer gathered at the Peregrine Watch Point (now on Cathedral Green every day from 10-2pm) to talk to shoppers and passers-by.
Later, whilst we were filming inside the tower we were lucky enough to see on-camera one of the chicks doing its first "projectile poo" - by 8 days old they can squirt out their faeces some 15-20cm. This is the white mess you see on the wooden sides of the platform, but sadly the activity doesn't quite come across that well with static web images.
There was mild concern yesterday about the adult male's left eye, which he was keeping closed for much of the time, though it did not stop him hunting for food. We'll bring you more news of this in the next few days.
As well as the Peregrine Falcons, two other local wildlife features in Derby were being filmed: the crayfish at Markeaton Brook, and the sand martins and skylarks at The Sanctuary - which is the city's first bird reserve, right next door to Pride Park Football Stadium.
Thursday, 17 May 2007
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
So, provided you live near enough (sorry to our foreign web-watchers, eg those of you in New Jersey who sent such a nice comment to the blog) please do come down to Derby and join us at the Watch Points organised by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust which will be running on Cathedral Green daily from 16th May. Weather permitting, we plan to be there with telescopes between 10am and 2pm each day.
Cathedral Green is situated at the back of the cathedral and from there we get good views up to the tower (though not into the platform of course). The Assembly Rooms multi-storey car park is just 100 metres down Full Street and there is on-street parking as well (metered except on Sundays). Buses run close by and the train station is only 20 minutes walk away.
If you have your own optics, do bring them along, but we will have a couple of telescopes for you to use, so don't worry if you haven't.
Last year, we had over 2000 visitors in less than three weeks. This year we plan to run the Watchpoint daily until the two chicks fledge in June....that is, if we can get enough volunteers helping us to run it! If you would be interested in helping, we need people able to stand for up to four hours on the green, helping visitors to get good views of the birds through the telescopes. If you could help, please phone Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188 and leave your name and phone number, or your email address and we'll get back to you. The office number has an answer machine running outside office hours.
To check if the watchpoint will be running, go to www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.com.
See you soon maybe?
Monday, 14 May 2007
Note: if you are a new visitor to the blog, be sure to scroll down and see and hear the excellent YouTube video of the chicks being fed.
Sunday, 13 May 2007
Peregrines traditionally live and nest in very exposed mountain and sea cliff habitats and are use to getting wet as well as brooding chicks in heavy rain...though they obviously don't like it any more than we do! For now, we can only keep our fingers crossed....
The platform has many drainage holes and these were checked in February when the gravel was renewed, so we trust there will not be any build-up of water beneath the chicks.
It will be interesting to see if the parents attempt to feed the chicks while this rain persists. No doubt they have stashed some drier prey somewhere on the tower in case of weather like today's when hunting is presumably out of the question. Attempting a feed might not be a wise move right now......
Identification of the sodden corpse that is partially lying under the brooding bird is problematic but if you think you can identify it, please add a comment to this blog entry. (Subsequent comments suggest a thrush - thanks for that).
Postscript: At about 18.50pm the rain stopped and a feed took place. Two dry-looking chicks were seen begging for food. So all's well though I guess we must abandon hope that the two remaining eggs will hatch.
The brooding falcon still looks incredibly wet now that she has settled back on the chicks....it will be a long, uncomfortable night for her!
Around the cathedral this morning were some teal feathers and also the rather soggy remains of a black headed gull. While these species have been recorded as prey here at Derby before, a feather from a robin found recently was an additional species to add to the lengthening list we already have.
While at the cathedral, it was good to see swifts back in town, screaming overhead early this morning. Last year we found swift feathers beneath the tower and we know from other urban peregrine nest sites that these fast fliers are not fast enough to evade the talons of peregrines.
The male bird was dozing on the edge of the platform and he was still there when I returned home and turned on my computer, so it may occasionally be worth switching to see the view from the other camera when the brooding bird seems settled and inactive.
In Columbus, Ohio none of their four eggs have hatched this year, so now they've all been removed in the hope this may trigger the adults to try again. But it does seem rather late in the season. Do visit their blog, if only to see the stunning photo of their female, Scout, taken as she was defending her nest site as the addled eggs were removed.
Friday, 11 May 2007
Thursday, 10 May 2007
The photo above shows our female settling back down to incubate her remaining eggs and to protect the two new arrivals. Checking the video recorder today, we can see that the first egg probably hatched around 9.30pm last night. At one point, sometime before dawn, the adult female could clearly be seen eating one of the egg shells, though the chicks stayed mostly out of view until the morning.
News of the arrivals soon spread, with Radio Derby covering our arrivals both in their news bulletins and with a good interview with Nick Brown from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust late this afternoon. We’ll be getting film footage off to BBC TV tomorrow.
Visitors to our webcams this evening may have wondered why the picture kept coming and going. This wasn’t because the 3,000 visitors today caused the guys at Streamdays a problem – it was simply our light sensor which detects the change from day to night. The artificial illumination on the Cathedral’s tower was causing the sensor to trip in and out, changing the camera from daylight to infra-red mode. There’s little we can do, I’m afraid; the option of a quick abseil to adjust the camera is quite out of the question!
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
And now our eggs are about to hatch. In fact, we thought yesterday that they had already done so, as we've received feedback from a peregrine expert that our female was sitting differently on the nest. We watched the cameras all afternoon, but spotted four eggs on a changeover at 3pm. We thought the strong winds were causing the larger female to brace herself by spreading out her wings, but today she still has an outspread posture, even in calm weather. At 11am her four eggs were still visible to us.
So what are the signs to watch out for? Donna Daniel at the Columbus Peregrine Falcon Project in Ohio has just published some wonderful notes about what signs we might see. She's kindly let me reproduce them here, with a few modifications of our own.
When will they hatch?
Firstly, incubation takes about 33 days, but it's difficult to say when the birds actually start. Counting from the date of the 4th egg, which appeared on 10th April, 33 days is 13th May, so that is when we predicted hatching to occur. However, it's not an exact science, and if we count from when the 3rd egg was laid on 8th April, this gives us a hatching date of 11th May. But all along we've been saying somewhere between 8th -13th May to be safe!!
Don't be surprised if hatch begins earlier and don't panic if they are late! And, remember that the eggs won't all hatch at once - they will hatch over a couple of days.
Given that, here are some signs to help tell when hatching is close:
A day or so prior to hatching the chicks will begin vocalizing from inside the egg and pecking to work their way out. The adult birds can hear the chirping and feel the vibration, so their behavior will change. While throughout the majority of incubation they have sat tight on the eggs, they will now become very restless. They will get up and look down at the eggs more often, settle back down, and be up looking again within a short time. We have a microphone above the nest scrape, but it's not online yet. Sound will still be captured on film, and we will be monitoring it from our office inside Derby Museum.
After hatching the chicks need to be kept warm, so our female will brood the hatchlings. This may look similar to incubation but she will actually be sitting up higher and may hold her wings out from her body more than we see during incubation. Finally, keep in mind that some or all of the eggs may not even hatch. We have no plans to intervene in any way with this natural process.
Our female is now showing increasing interest in the eggs beneath her. At 5pm yesterday the male arrived carrying a small prey item, ready plucked, which suggests his instinct to bring food to the chicks was prematurely kicking in.
So let's hope for good weather, and enjoy watching the eggs hatch live on camera. And if you want a sneak preview of what's to come here, why not visit the live streaming video webcams in Ohio, where recent talk has been of a small hole appearing in one of their eggs.
Thursday, 3 May 2007
We're now settling in to a routine of around 500 new visitors, plus another 500 returning visitors to our webcams every day. We welcome you all, and thank you for heeding the call to close your browsers after watching. It's done the trick, and drastically lightened the load on the Streamdays servers.
The Derby Cathedral peregrines have now settled into an incubation routine, too. It's clear that the female sits on the eggs for most of the night, getting relieved either an hour or two before dawn, or shortly afterwards. There are usually a couple of changeovers during the day before she resumes again for the night shift. Only once so far has the male spent most of the night on the eggs.
These changeovers nornally takes less than a minute, but once or twice the eggs have been left exposed for six or seven minutes.
Sometimes the sitting bird simply doesn't want to move. More than once the larger female has seemed to stand bemused by her failure to rouse her partner, or vice versa. But she's bigger, and when she waddles slowly in from the right side of the platform he invariably gets up and flies off. If you see a changeover online you're quite lucky. Had we managed to get our audio channel up and running in time this would have been a useful early-warning of a changeover, as the birds call to each other with a gentle chirrupping or ee-chupping sound when one of them arrives on the ledge.
Meanwhile, enjoy watching.