Tuesday, 28 July 2009


As you will no doubt have noticed, we're still having problems with our wireless link (Cisco 1200 series access point) which sends our signals out from Derby Cathedral. The engineer came on Friday and replaced the faulty unit - but the problem remained. The original unit was recalled by the manufacturer for tests. Once again, it's apologies from us and that familiar phrase: "we'll keep you informed of developments."

Injured Peregrine
Regular blog readers will be aware that one of this year's juvenile females suffered a severe wing injury which will prevent her ever flying wild and being capable of fending for herself.
We refer to her as "010" after her ring number, but she is now being cared for by a falconer who has long been supportive of our project. Colin now calls her "Cathy" - after the Cathedral - as he says he needs a name to shout to her when he's exercising and getting her to fly. Colin reports that she is doing fine as can be seen in this high-quality video made by local photographer, Jon Salloway, and taken about two weeks ago. It shows the incredible progress she has made since she was found on the ground, but her damaged wing can be clearly seen in some of the shots. Since then Colin reports that she is still doing well, and we're pleased to support him in the fine job he's doing with her.

Derby's birds have suffered a 50% loss this year, which is better than normal for urban peregrines. The greatest risk to birds is in their first year; elsewhere in the UK and around the world some nests have failed completely, or others have suffered natural losses, whilst others have experienced persecution at the hand of man.

In other news: Nick Brown from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust from reports that at a peregrine nest on a church in the town of Grantham in Lincolnshire about 40 miles East of Derby, a quail leg has just been found bearing a ring put on in Belgium in May. This is the first recovery ever of a foreign ringed quail in the UK, never mind one caught by a peregrine. The bird would have been caught close to Grantham, rather than being taken by a wandering peregrine traveling over to Belgium. In other parts of the world, peregrines do migrate long distances, but here we see them staying relatively close to their place of origin, and spreading out gradually to return to those areas from which they had declined so dramatically to a point of near extinction some 50 years ago. The 5 to 6 year old children from Brigg Infants School in Derbyshire have produced a short but stunning video telling the story of Derby Cathedral's peregrines in 2009. We hope to bring this to you in the very near future.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Trust the Wildlife Trust.....

Now that the breeding season has effectively ended, followers of the web cams and blog will be wondering what to do with themselves and already several suggestions have been made about switching to other peregrine webcams elsewhere - indeed watching web cams on other species.
Meanwhile, if you have enjoyed your involvement with the project this year, there are a few things you could do to get more involved with us.
The project is a partnership between the cathedral, the city museum and the county wildlife trust. The first two partners will promote themselves later.
The third partner, the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, is a charity and a non-profit organisation set up in the 1960s. For its income it depends partly on the support of its 12,000 members who pay an annual subscription. Some members also choose to make donations in addition and an increasing number leave us money in their wills.
This income in greatly enhanced by contracts with local councils and by funding applications made by the Trust staff (of whom there are now some 25 people). Funders include the national lottery, landfill tax, charitable trusts and some corporate supporters. Most of this money is short term and hard to get hold - so each year the Trust finds itself with a (usually relatively small) deficit and has to adjust its work and its expenditure accordingly.

Clearly the work of the Trust now relies heavily on the paid staff, without whom it would achieve very little.
Having said that, our wonderful volunteers (numbering over 500) make a major contribution to the Trust's work.

These people contribute their time in many ways: some volunteer to help with the peregrine watchpoints and without them we simply couldn't run them at all! Others help on our many nature reserves around the county. Others do office tasks and a few give their time as trustees, overseeing the work of the Trust and ensuring it develops and operates in a proper manner.

The Trust works in many ways to look after the wildlife of Derbyshire and to draw local people towards a better understanding and appreciation of that wildlife. This Peregrine project is just one (small) aspect of the Trust's work which you can find out more about by visiting our website at http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/ .

The Trust's involvement with this project has been there from the very beginning but, as we have said many times before, without the strong partnership with the cathedral and with the museum, this project would have achieved nothing. We each contribute different and complementary elements to make up the whole.

So, if you are not a Trust member already (especially if you live in or near the county), you might like to consider joining us. Several of you have done this already. Others have joined their own local wildlife trust in whatever county or country they live in - and in many ways, that is just as worthwhile (remember the old addage "think global, act local").

Alternatively, if you have not done so already, a donation to the project would be very welcome. Such donations are currently handled by the Trust on behalf of the project and this system has worked well so far. Details of how to make a donation are here


Finally, you could offer your time to the Trust as a volunteer. For more details please see the website above or contact the trust via the website contact points.
Thank you.

Nick Brown (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Ps. The landscape photo shows a part of the Peak District in North Derbyshire where the Trust has a series of important nature reserves. The last photo shows some of our work with children, here making a giant spider!

Webcam update (Updated)

Derby Cathedral stained glass window
An IT engineer arrived today to replace our faulty Cisco 1200 series wireless bridge. This is the radio link that connects the Cathedral to Derby City Council's networks, and thence to the big wide world.
Unfortunately it is dead in the water but the replacement unit had not been shipped out in advance as the engineer believed. So there was nothing to replace it with. We will have to wait until next week now before they can return and configure the new system.
We'll keep you informed if there are likely to be any further problems.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Not out of the woods yet

As many readers to this blog will be aware, our female juvenile peregrine was found with a permanently damaged wing just over a week ago. She will never be able to survive and hunt for herself in the wild. She has been to the vet a number of times, the last being yesterday, and her future has still to be decided. Colin, a local falconer, has been caring for her since she was discovered and has kindly produced a progress report on Monday's visit:

Not out of the woods yet.
The vet was pretty pleased with the strength and movement in her right shoulder joint. In fact perhaps a little surprised in just what movement and strength she did have. He was pretty impressed at what we had achieved and said I had made a good job. The shot in her abdomen seems to have moved and looks to be breaking down. This does not worry him as the lead level in her blood is very low at the moment.
X-ray of peregrine falcon 010 showing lead shot in digestive system and damage to right wing joint
However what does concern him is her long term care, and where she will end up.

In an ideal world he would like her to be cared for by a falconer, though she will never fly well enough to become a hunting falconry bird. But I believe she will fly well enough to keep fit and enjoy the freedom that flying free brings. The reason he is keen on her being cared for in a falconry background, is the constant contact and handling this brings every day which allows her to relax among people and give her a quality of life. He does not want her to end up in an aviary where, without constant contact and handling, she would revert back to being wild and become fearful and feel trapped. In that situation he feels the quality of life would be very poor, and euthanasia would be his recommendation.

In short, she goes back in 3 weeks time to see how we have got on with her training, and to see just how far her flying has progressed. When I go back I will tell the vet that I will try to commit to her welfare long term; this is something I had not given a great deal of thought to yet, as all I had thought about until now was getting her as well as possible and flying to the best of her ability.

On a good note I have been granted a registration document from Animal Health (DEFRA) for her as her keeper, it arrived this morning.

The project team adds:
Our thanks to Colin for reporting back on the situation following 010's visit to the vet today. It's clear that not only have we - the Project Team - got an obligation to look after 010's best interests, we also have an obligation not to force 010 upon Colin, or indeed someone else, who might feel duty-bound to look after her for years to come when, deep down, that isn't really what they might want or could manage.

The vet is clearly concerned to ensure that eventually there is a long term commitment to her upkeep and quality of life, and it would be wrong of us all if, by our support for what Colin is doing now, we push him into a corner that he never expected to be in. His decision - and ours - need to be made on what's best for all involved, and for now we are immensely grateful to him for his superb care of this injured wild bird.

You have all been so supportive of what Colin is doing. However, we're worried that the intensity of your support via the blog comments might force him into making long-term decisions he wouldn't otherwise make. So we'll continue to support him, of course, in the great work he has been doing but also in what has to be a completely separate and long-term decision which impacts not only on the bird's future, but also on his own.

Footnotes: Another local photographer, John Salloway, has posted a high definition video showing 010's progress. Follow this link to John's Blog

We are expecting an engineer on 14th July to repair or replace our wireless bridge - so apologies for the protracted breakdown in webcam service.

Would anyone spotting either of our two juveniles please leave a comment on the blog for all to see?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

News from the western front

This morning a trip to town early discovered both adults and one of the male juveniles. On the right is one of the two male juvs. He was begging for food from the falcon that was sitting nearby (left photo) both on a pair of aerials.

Overhead several swifts were flying about and a cormorant went over much higher.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch so to speak, the tiercel was on the platform, preening.

No sign of the second juvenile but there are a whole lot of roofs and other suitable perching places in town!

Apols for poor quality of the photos....

Nick B (DWT)

Friday, 3 July 2009

It's Always Sunny in Derby

Our webcams have frozen on a lovely sunny scene yesterday in Derby. Unfortunately today's heavy rain clouds cast a shadow on many things, including news of our webcam internet connection.

It appears that our Cisco wireless access point is faulty, and may need to be replaced. Looking at its oddly flashing lights today, it seemed to be continuously trying to reboot itself. Not good news. Thankfully we are supported by Serco, Derby City Council's IT new support organisation. Their monitoring systems had already alerted them to a problem, and they were investigating it at the same time as I was.

So what's a wireless access point, when it's at home? Basically its a radio connection that links Derby Cathedral to the City Council's network, allowing the webcam signals to get out to Streamdays, who then serve back those pictures to you, our viewers. A faulty unit means no signal is getting out, and the unit may have to be replaced - we shall know more next week.

This is a surprising failure as they are normally very rugged devices, rather like a wireless router, and Cisco equipment is top-of-the-range. Serco hope to check it out on Monday, and we should know more soon.

Meanwhile, anyone for the potter's wheel again?