Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Donations, What Next? and an Update

Update Saturday 3rd July: no birds at the cathedral or on Jurys Inn early morning and just one juv. on the police aerial. The rest must be somewhere around. Under the cathedral I found a few teal feathers plus the wing of a quail.

Our birds took one in July last year and another later in the year..... The top right photo is from a Dutch 'bird feather ID' website. The one below is this morning's find at Derby. NB.


We would like to thank everyone who has donated so generously this year to the peregrine project. We have now exceeded our base target of £1500 which is what we need just to keep the web cams running for a further year.

In addition we have received a further £500 so far which will allow us to replace some existing equipment, reprint the leaflet, carry our some new publicity and perhaps, make some new innovations. The team will meet in the autumn and decide what developments we would like to make for 2011 and whether we have the funds to carry them out.

What next?
Although the adults are showing on the web cams from time to time, we expect many people to drift away from watching our birds and reading this blog now that the juveniles have fledged.

So, if this experience has opened your eyes to the wildlife around you - where can you turn next and what can (or maybe should) you do?

I would encourage everyone, wherever you may be, to support, donate to and where possible also join their local wildlife organisation. In Derbyshire this is the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) and you can find out more about what the trust does by visiting its website;

You can join DWT via the website or by phoning the Trust office on 01773 881188.
There are county wildlife trusts in every other part of the UK. To find you local one, whether it's Surrey WT or Scotland WT, visit the trusts national website

Then, why not visit your local nature reserves or attend a field or indoor meeting organised by the trust? Details are on their websites. The DWT website also features a weekly wildlife diary which is located in the 'news' section.

Carr Vale Nature Reserve near Bolsover
If you still have some money left over after donating to this project then there are many hundreds of deserving conservation projects both in the UK and abroad. For example, Terry has recently mentioned the great work that Birdlife Malta does trying to halt the slaughter of migrating birds (including many raptors) which pass over that island. The conservationists there are incredibly brave, facing physical attacks from the hunters and regular vandalism of their newly established nature reserves).

Obviously, DWT is the organisation we would hope to direct you to first and foremost since the trust has been a major partner and supporter of this project since its inception more than five years ago.

Nick B (DWT)

Ps. And don't forget the excellent project DVD 'The Peregrines of Derby' is still available at £9.95 (inclusive of p&p) from the museum and cathedral shops and by post from DWT by phoning 01773 881188.

Friday, 25 June 2010

The Urbane Birder and an Update

Update Saturday 26th June: all four peregrines were on the police aerial this morning, the two juvs together on a metal platform about half way up. Earlier I had seen both parents in the nest platform again performing pair bonding all's well!
The juvs flew strongly off the aerial at one point, returning soon afterwards - they also had food on the aerial.

My hastily digiscoped photos show the two juvs and (if you can spot her) the falcon just above them. Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

"Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Nick Brown is a dead bird watcher."

The words stood out and shocked me as I browsed through the pages of this month's Bird Watching Magazine in a newsagent in Derby's Westfield shopping centre. It's not often that you pick up a magazine and read that a good friend you've known for many years is dead. Thankfully, this was not one of those moments.

The words were written by David Lindo, writer and broadcaster, who writes under the epithet of "The Urban Birder". A couple of months ago Nick Brown had pursuaded David to come up to Derby and to write a piece on Derby's birdwatching hotspots. Inevitably this meant a visit to Derby Cathedral to see our peregrines, and David had been amused and intrigued by the revelations that Nick B. loved nothing better to do than scour around for the remains of unusual prey items dropped by our peregrines. We'd already found the remains of a Little Grebe on one of the grotesques, and Nick had jokingly described himself as being a "dead bird watcher". For someone dedicated to birdwatching in the urban environment, David Lindo loved the idea. And so began his article on page 47 of the July issue of Bird Watching.

We had taken him right along the River Derwent corridor, starting at Darley Abbey and going through the beautiful Darley Park, arriving at Cathedral Green where I met up with Nick, David and his photographer, Russell Spencer.

We introduced David to Tony Grantham, the Head Verger at Derby Cathedral and partner in the Peregrine Project, before going up the tower to show him where our peregrines were nesting. Afterwards we headed off downstream towards Pride Park where along the way we showed him a colony of Sand Martins which had made their home in the metal pilings used to reinforce the sandy river bank at one point alongs its journey south through the city (see photo). Here we saw a huge pike in the river and the electric flash of a Kingfisher darting rapidly upstream.

Our trip ended at another project I was involved in setting up - The Sanctuary Bird Reserve - next to Derby County football stadium. The site of a former landfill site, it's now home to countless more Sand Martins but also to Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Little Grebes, Skylarks, Reed Buntingss, Lapwing and many many other birds which have become increasingly rare across Derby as more and more land is put to commercial use.

It was great to see the Little Ringed Plovers mating and to watch numerous Wheatears which had stopped off on their way northwards to their summer breeding grounds. Beside me, our dead bird watcher was very much alive. Nick and David are both far better birders than I am, and it was impressive to hear them debating whether or not the tiny dot Nick had just spotted, floating high above our heads, was a Honey Buzzard high in the skies overhead. Whetever it was, even higher up still, perhaps a thousand feet or more in the air , a peregrine, almost invisible even with binoculars was circling, looking for food. And we also .......

.... Well, I could go on.
But why not read the The Urban Birder's article yourself in the July issue Bird Watching Magazine. It's just £3.95. Or take a walk down the River Derwent and see some of Derby's magic birdlife sites for yourself.

The accompanying photos show some examples of prey found at the cathedral:

A common tern in a lead gutter - photo: Joyce Sawford
Blackcap head - photo NB

Knot head - photo NB
David Lindo, The Urban Birder, beside the River Derwent Sand Martin colony (photo NM)
Artificial Sand Martin bank and lake at The Sanctuary, Pride Park. (photo NM)
You can read a little about the the Urban Birder's visit to Derby on his blog, here.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

More photos by Andy Byron and WP report

Important News on Watchpoint Cancellation - see end of this post.

We didn't have time to post these superb shots by Andy Byron here they are now. They were taken on Wednesday the day the second juv fledged. The falcon was flying round the tower top trying to encourage the first juv to fledge to fly from 
the high pinnacle top where it was impossible for the falcon to drop food down to it.

Thanks Andy!
We hope to make prints of some photos by Andy and Colin among others to sell for our funds - more news about this in about a week's time we hope...
So keep visiting this blog and the web cams since you may well see the birds again when they decide to spend more time back at the cathedral. We will continue to update the blog whenever we can and whenever we have news of the youngsters.
Watchpoint Report for Saturday 19 June.
As Nick has already posted on the blog, we located an adult (probably the falcon) and both juveniles on the Police radio mast at St. Mary's Wharf on our way into town before 9 o'clock. However, by the time we'd set up the watchpoint there were no peregrines to be seen. Our hopes were raised a few minutes later when 2 of the birds landed on the Cathedral but before we got a telescope set up on them, they had gone again. This became the order of the day, one bird or another being seen for a short while before disappearing again. The tiercel put in a long stint sat on Jury's Inn around the middle of our session and we frequently saw adults and juveniles on the radio mast but usually just one at a time.
Finally, we agreed that things weren't likely to improve much and closed the watchpoint at 1.30 (probably the earliest yet!) and went our various ways. Then, just as Chris and I were getting back to our car, the falcon and one of the juveniles appeared circling around the Cathedral tower for a couple of minutes. The female landed on a favourite perch just along from "pudding cam" but the juvenile drifted off in the direction of the Market Place and was lost from sight.
Andy, Chris, Celia & Helen
The Team

Watchpoint Cancellation
Because there is so little activity in the immediate vicinity of the Cathedral, we have agreed that we will not be running any more Watchpoints this season on Derby's Cathedral Green. Although the birds are still active, they do seem to have moved away much faster this year, gravitating towards the tall aerial masts of Derby's Police Headquarters at St Mary's Wharf near Chester Green. Don't let that stop you coming down to the Cathedral to look for yourself, but just don't expect the Trusts's scopes to be there.

On behalf of the Team, and indeed everyone who reads this blog, I would like to thank all of the fantastic volunteers from the Wildlife Trust who have given their time this to "man" the 'scopes during 2010. You really have help give that real dimension to this project - that of seeing wildlife in its natural environment, and have introduced it to many visitors to and residents of our city of Derby.

Many thanks, too, to those who helped in other ways or made donations to the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project. It's not too late to donate if you want to ensure our webcams and project continue running next season, or you may decide you'd like to join Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and support its numerous other conservation causes across our beautiful county.
Nick M.
Derby Museum & Art Gallery

Thursday, 17 June 2010

More photos and a video and good news updates

Saturday morning update: Andy and Chris found two juvs and the falcon all on the police aerial about 9 a.m. so perhaps the whole family has decamped there. Watch Point will go ahead today but it may be necessary to visit the police aerial near Fox Street to see any action if the birds don't return to the cathedral.

Friday 6 pm: Nick M has just seen two juvs!!! One on the Silk Mill chimney and a second on the police aerial. Yippee!!!!

Friday morning Update from the Watch Point:

We saw one youngster plus both parents - but not the second young one sadly.
The youngster, almost certainly the one that fledged on Monday, flew strongly and was taken food by the falcon which it ate on a chimney on the Silkmill by the river.
It was good to put faces to a few blog commentators (Hi Joyce and Mo) among others whose names I didn't manage to get!) and to see some old friends of the project too. People had travelled in especially to see the birds - eg from Abbots Bromley, Belper, Newcastle under Lyne and one couple who had cycled in from Sandiacre. Two women from an office by the cathedral came over and said how much pleasure they get from watching the birds through their windows and (sneakily) on their computers when the boss isn't about!
Just after 1 pm the rain began and definitely stopped play....
Update Thursday evening: sadly no sign all day of the juvenile that fledged yesterday. It was on a chimney stack above Irongate near the cathedral late on Wednesday evening when we left and it could still be up on a roof somewhere.....fingers crossed for that one.
The first bird to fledge has been on the tower today but had flown off onto the tall police aerial about half a mile away this evening. Hopefully it will make it back to the cathedral tomorrow.
Nick B.

Here is a video of yesterday's first flight by the second of our two young peregrine falcons to make it to fledging this year. It's amazing to think that only six weeks ago we were all glued to our computers, witnessing them emerge as tiny wet balls of feathers from the egg.

These photos are by Colin Pass and were taken on Monday 14th June when the first juvenile fledged (BTW he thinks they are both females - i.e. falcons which is good since it was the two males (tiercels) that survived last year).

Colin was there when the first one fledged but was not in positon at the actual moment. He took the photo of the two 'chicks' just before the further one fledged. The photos of the falcon were taken later. When she was sitting on the blue hotel sign she was evidently looking down trying to locate where the first fledger had got to.

As usual excellent shots from Colin and thanks to him for letting us use them.

Please scroll down one post to see Wednesday's (excellent) photos by Andy Byron and go down two posts to 'read all about it' as they say!

Nick B (DWT)
Ps. Now they platform is empty (and before you disappear to other wbecams) is the time to donate to this project if you've not done so yet. We are still short of our target by a few hundred pounds.
Details of how to donate:

You can donate in one of the following ways:

UK donors: Post a cheque made payable to DWT to the Trust at East Mill, Belper, DE56 1XH including a covering note stating that your donation is only for the peregrine project and your address so we can thank you.

Ring the Trust office in office hours (01773 881188) and make a payment over the phone by debit/credit card (office hours are 9am to 5pm, weekdays).

UK Taxpayers only: you can greatly increase your donation by filling out a Gift Aid form whereby the tax people give the Trust a further 25% of the value of your donation. The form can be sent by email or through the post…just ask.

Overseas donors: Please email asking for the codes you need so that you bank can transfer money to the DWT account. (Unfortunately Gift Aid does not apply unless you are a tax payer in the UK.)Donors from most overseas countries can also ring the Trust (on 011 44 1773 881188 ) to pay by credit long as you can work out when the office is open of course!It helps if you would clearly mark on your payment that it is intended for use by the Peregrine Project, either in the current financial year or carried forward, if unspent.

Payments should only be made to one of the three Project Partners. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is best placed for this. Please note that no other organisation or website is authorised to collect funds on our behalf.

Thank you in advance.

Pps Newcomers to this project: please note that you will see the adults and perhaps also the juveniles occasionally(even quite regularly) over the next few weeks and months from the camera which looks across to Jurys Inn - so don't leave us just because the nest platform is empty. In fact in previous years we have had juveniles return to the platform to feed and roost.....
The view will be changed soon so that the JI/top of gargoyles camera view is full screen.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Photos of today's fledging

Andy Byron from Nottingham took these photos this afternoon as the second chick fledged.

One shows the bird trying to get a foothold on the wooden louvres on the south side of the tower, without success.

Thanks to Andy for letting us use them.
Nick B (wildlife trust)
For the latest news on the two fledglings please scroll down to the previous post.

Lift Off!

Update 9.40pm Tuesday: the second chick to fledge flew around the cathedral several times this evening, landing on different buildings, ending up on a chimney above Irongate where it seemed to be settled for the night. Thanks to Cliff and Christine for keeping track of it (still not sure if it is male or female!). Monday's fledgling was up on a pinnacle near the tower top - clearly settled for the night there.

Derby's second peregrine falcon has fledged!
This photo shows the precise moment, captured and posted almost immediately by "Twwitcher" onto our Flickr photopool.

2nd Chick Takes to the Air - 16th June 2010 - 14.35

It seems it (she?) flew around 14:35 local time, though ironically we first heard the news via a phone call from Ruth in France to report her departure. So thanks to everyone who got in touch. As I write this (15:20) I've just recieved a text message from Nick B. to report that he has spotted the chick on the cathedral's nave roof, and that she seems OK. Whether or not she will be able to fly on from there remains to be seen.
Oops - a further call from Nick B. at 15:32 and she has flown on to one of the tall chimneys of the Silk Mill museum (the small one just left of centre on the photo), after not quite managing to make it to the tall, nearby Jury's Inn Hotel. But it does look like our second bird is a strong flyer and should be OK, too.

We gather that a photographer (Andy B) from Nottingham managed to capture the exact moment of take off, after waiting there most of the day with camera poised. He's agreed to send us some images and we'll try and bring this moment to you too. We'll retrieve a video clip of the fledging moment sometime tomorrow lunchtime if we can, and hope to post it just after lunch or later in the evening.

So what happens now?

It's still possible that one or both birds will come back to the nest ledge, and maybe confuse a few webcam watchers into thinking that they haven't left yet. But there's a much stronger chance that you'll see them at some point in the days ahead via the tower cam. This is a high vantage point on Derby Cathedral which the juveniles have used a lot in the past. So we'll switch the cams over in the next day or so to give better view looking across towards Jury's Inn Hotel. I'll also swap back the video recorders which have been running on both next cameras since yesterday so that the ledge is covered. (Apologies to those of you who wanting more video clips this season. It has been a very busy time for me both at home and at work recently, and it simply wasn't possible to find the free time to retrieve all the clips from inside Derby Cathedral Tower that you might have wished to have seen.)
(The photo shows the first fledger and the falcon both near the top of one of the pinnacles today. During the morning this bird successfully received food from the falcon in mid-air and took it first to the nave roof and then to the top of the Silk Mill, finally flying back to the tower top.)
Cathedral Green Antics
Despite the wonders of technology, nothing beats seeing peregrine falcons in real life. So this is where many of you reading this blog will now be earnestly wish you were living in or visiting Derby, because for the next few weeks there should be some amazing aerial antics to be seen from Derby's Cathedral Green. As the young peregrines gain in confidence their parents will be aiding the process of learning to hunt and fly, and all this can be watched from the ground. The Wildlife Trust-run Watchpoints will continue for some time yet, so if you haven't made it down to see them in the flesh (so-to-speak), do make a point of visiting in the days ahead. (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays c.10.30am-1.00pm.).

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Tuesday Update

Update: Wednesday 15:10. Our second bird has left the nest. Thanks to all the commenters - it seems it flew around 14:35 local time. We're off out now to see if we can check on her progress and will report back in as soon as possible.

We now have one successfully fledged youngster, plus one peregrine still in the nest tray which has not yet flown, which we see in the video below.

Last night (Monday 14th June) the only youngster to have left the nest ledge so far was spotted on the low tower of nearby St Michael's Church. Later in the evening it flew back to the north side of Derby Cathedral's tall tower, where it remained all night. Then this morning it flew strongly across to the top of nearby Jury's Inn Hotel (the building you see in our tower-top webcam) and then at around 9am it flew back again to land on one of the four tower spires.

Meanwhile its sibling remained in the nest, becoming somewhat agitated when the first juvenile flew back from Jury's Inn. From the amount of white feathers still on it, it probably won't fly today, though we can never be sure. Either way, it can't be long now. (see video above)

High in the skies over Derby city centre we also saw the tiercel (male peregrine) circling in the air, obviosly looking for potential prey, whilst the falcon (female peregrine) was on a ledge high up on the tower.

Monday, 14 June 2010

One fledges and is found later

Update: the missing youngster was found on the top of a nearby church which is now an architects office about 5pm. It stayed there until 7pm when it flew strongly back to the cathedral tower, landing somewhat inelegantly on a sloping ledge but soon getting to a better perch nearby. The first picture show the low tower of St Michael's church on the left on which the missing juve was found.
The second photo is a close up and shows the pigeon wire in front of the bird's breast on St. Michael's.

The third photo shows the bird on the north side of the cathedral tower having returned there from St Michael's. It seemed very settled there in the evening sunshine.

One of the two chicks (the more advanced one) fledged this morning sometime around 8 am. Despite three of us searching from 8.45 to 11.45 we have been unable to locate it.
In previous years, fledglings have landed fairly close to the cathedral, on roofs, chimneys etc and have been reasonably easy to find. Not so this bird which seems to have flown further away.
We watched the falcon circling over a wide area this morning (and indeed the tiercel too, higher up) as if looking for the youngster but she didn't give us any indication that she knew where it was.
We have looked on the nave roof, been up to the top of the two mult-storey car parks in the area and walked the surrounding streets but all to no avail (thanks Colin and Andy for your stalwart help!).
We have alerted the police and also the local radio and newspaper in case anyone sees a strange looking bird in their back yard.
There's not much more we can do except run a few more patrols round the area which we intend to do later. We'll keep you updated as best we can but please bear with us!
Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Ps Anyone who would like to donate to the project please do so if you haven't already! Thanks.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

More recent photos as we await the first flight

Update Monday morning: we've spent three hours wandering round the local streets, peering from the tops of multi-storey car parks etc looking for the juvenile that fledged early this morning but so far without any success. The falcon (and the tiercel) have been flying over the whole area perhaps also searching for their youngster. Hopefully the bird is not on the ground but on a roof somewhere and will take off and return to the tower later. There are so many flat roofs, back yards, derelict plots, trees etc that finding the bird is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Further update later today...

Update:Saturday's Watchpoint report has been added at the end....

Here are some recent photos via Flickr of the two juvenile peregrines, some taken from the ground by Colin Pass on Friday 11th June and some taken
via the webcams. Thanks to everyone for contributing them and especially Colin since he had to stand below the tower with his big, heavy lens and wait for the right moment!

There was not quite as much wing flapping on Saturday as we might have expected so opinions are now suggesting that fledging may yet be a couple of days off - even for the more advanced bird.

The forecast for the next few days is for good weather, perhaps with a few showers so that should not adversely affect the birds.
In a way, the longer they delay making their first flights, the stronger they will be and the less likely that they will come to ground...

The top four photos were taken by Colin. The two below were captured from the web cams by HelenSara and Craig. They show the chicks
waiting for food and then just about to get some!

Nice work everyone!

Nick Brown (DWT)

Here's the Report from the Watchpoint yesterday, Saturday 12 June

An early-ish start today! Chris and I were just starting to set things out at 10 o'clock this morning when a coach party from Chester on a sight seeing tour of Derbyshire ambushed us. We couldn't set telescopes up fast enough! So apart from seeing the Cathedral and Silk Mill museum as they had intended, they also got very good views of our chicks.

The falcon had already arrived at the cathedral at about 9.30 carrying a feral pigeon which she cached on a water spout and then sat back to enjoy the sunshine leaving the chicks calling to her and flapping to exercise their wings.

Just before 11.00 she suddenly took off over the river calling loudly and gaining height - a buzzard had drifted into her territory and was escorted off in the direction of the Bus Station.

This was followed by about twenty minutes of both adults flying together all around the area culminating in a breathtaking mock stoop by the falcon which took her low over Cathedral Green and around the corner of the Silk Mill before she soared away to land on the police radio mast near Chester Green.

Shortly after 12.00, we again saw both adults flying around to the North, sometimes landing for a while on Jury's Inn. The female then returned to her favoured perch just below the nest platform where she rested until, at about quarter to one, a crow flew across the Green and across the nave of the cathedral, just below the faclon - she launched herself at the crow and we later had reports from two ladies (who had travelled from Newcastle-under-Lyme just to see the peregrines) that an injured crow had been seen in Iron Gate trying to shelter in a shop doorway - presumably the same bird which won't be making the same mistake again!!!

Just as we were preparing to close the watchpoint (and this always seems to happen to us) the falcon took off again heading high over the Market Place area, we then saw why - the tiercel was coming in with a prey item. They flew around each other for a few minutes before making a food pass - the tiercel dropped his catch just as the falcon passed underneath him, she missed it at the first attempt but twisted around to catch it before it had fallen twenty feet. This was brought back to the Cathedral and plucked before being dropped into the nest platform, the falcon then returning to her perch.

The many visitors we had today (including a couple on holiday from Australia) were treated to excellent views of both chicks as well as the aerial displays put on by their parents.

Many thanks to all who came down today and thankyou for the generous contributions you made to our funds.

Andy, Chris and Helen.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Fledging (still) approaches

We are expecting the chicks to fledge probably within the next 2-3 days. The local police and RSPCA have been informed in case a member of the public contacts either of them having seen a fledgling on the ground somewhere. We have installed a stout box, gardening gloves and an old bedspread in the cathedral in case one comes has to be caught and taken back up the tower again for a second go.
(This 2007 photo by John Salloway shows two recently fledged young tangling with each other near the cathedral - with luck the 2010 youngsters will soon be doing likewise!)

The weather has been very poor recently - cold, wet and very windy...not conducive to making one's first flight! By the weekend things should have improved and wing flapping is likely to re-commence....possibly leading to a flight!

With just two young in the platform this year, the chance of one accidently catching the other with its wing and knocking it off the platform is less likely...we'll just have to wait and see.

This new photo was taken yesterday (11th) by Colin Pass to whom many thanks. Some wing stretch that!!

Several commentators have thought one of the chicks had fledged already - they are very difficult to see, especially on the right hand side of the ledge so you can be forgiven but please do try to make sure one has really left the ledge before you put up a comment if you will - we will get real alerts shortly and could do without any more false ones....
It may also be the case that one of the more adventurous chicks will climb out of sight onto the higher edges of the platform or up the central black strap giving the apperance that there is only one left. Check carefully for the ends of tails just in view somewhere!
Meanwhile once the weather improves there are likely to be watchers on the ground - at least in the mornings and afternoons and so if one comes down on a road hopefully someone will spot it in time to shepherd it out of danger from traffic.

The team members will do their best to get down to the cathedral as quickly as they can once we learn that a chick has landed - but we can't be there all the time of course.

We will update the blog just as soon as we can after any fledging happens.

Our fingers are crossed!

The team

Watch Point Update: today (Friday 11th) was quite busy with visitors from Italy, Greece and the USA coming to see the birds. The two chicks were doing only a small amount of flapping - perhaps they haven't yet recovered from the wetting they got yesterday! the female stood guard above but the male didn't show up all morning.....

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Fledging approaches, donors & Watch Point reminder

Watch Points operate on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10.30 - 1.30 - so if you are within reach of Derby, do come down and see the birds for real! Unless (as it was today - 9th) it is raining - in which case there won't be one!
A quick note to thank recent donors who have contributed over £400 to the project. We are on track to get the income we need...but not there if you've been entranced by the birds but not donated yet, please consider doing so. The Trust office is open weekdays, 9-5pm. For details of how to donate please scroll down to the post below dated May 23rd.

As these two chicks are developing so quickly, it will only be a matter of a couple of weeks before they take their first flights. Ever since the project began five years ago, we have been aware that this is a very dangerous period for them. Unlike natural cliffs, the tower is narrow so when these youngsters make their first tentative flights, they circle round but often fail to make it back to the tower. Instead they crash into nearby trees, land on surrounding roofs or, failing that, come to ground.

In 2006, the first year the adults bred on the tower, one of the three chicks came crashing down to the ground - in fact, right onto the busy road behind the cathedral. Fortunately several people were watching and had the presence of mind to shepherd the bird off the road and into a nearby business carpark. It was a Saturday and the car park was empty.

Someone rang me up and I rushed down to town to see if I could capture the bird. Armed with thick gardening gloves and a net, I soon arrived to find a small crowd gathered, intensely watching the fledgling which ended up on top of a wheelie bin in the far corner of the car park.

I was able to catch the bird, a large female, and soon we had her safely in a cardboard box. We then trudged up the 189 steps to the top of the tower with the box calsped firmly in our hands. Opening the box, the fledgling soon took off across the roof, eventually hopping up onto the stonework and down onto a ledge. After some hours she made a second and more successful flight, ending up lower down on the tower.
In each subsequent year we have had to make rescues of at least one chick. In 2008, three of the four chicks came down to ground. One, a male and noticeably smaller in the hand than the 2006 female, was spotted outside a nearby pub early one morning. Again, I was alerted and managed to capture the bird - quite easily this time...

After the press photographers had taken their shots, we took him up to the top of the tower and released him directly onto the stonework. While the female flew round the tower screaming her disapproval, he sat there looking a bit non-plussed! Eventually, he too took to the air.

So, we can expect one if not both of this year's chicks to require rescuing.....time will tell!

Ever since the web cams were set up, several schools in the county have discovered that they make an excellent teaching resource. In particular, schools in Mickleover, South Normanton and Stretton Handley have made very good use of this free and accessible resource.

It's great that several Derbyshire schools have now set up thier own nest boxes with cameras inside them. The pictures from those cameras are brought together in one website (see below for the link).
Nikki Mahadevan, who teaches at one of the schools I mentioned above, writes:

Great Tits, House Sparrows, Blue Tits and Kestrels all feature in the
Derbyshire Schools Birdcam Project this year. Following on from a hard
winter and late spring, the nest box birds have had their fair share of
dramas. Some of the early broods failed and the young hatchlings have also had to contend with unseasonably high temperatures.

We've seen predation by great spotted woodpeckers and possibly starlings too.
In one box, House Sparrows are raising a brood having previously destroyed some
Great Tit eggs!

Although many of our chicks are expected to fledge by the end of this month, we are looking forward to the Kestrel eggs hatching early in June.

We wish these schools, both teachers and children, good luck with their endeavours!

Nick B (DWT)

Photo from Flickr - this one was taken on 31st May by Twwitcher to whom many thanks.